Two Years Later… Still on the Journey

I have learned that as a survivor, I can be whole again.

On December 2, 2010, the man I loved to distraction sent a text message to three people saying that life was too difficult. He turned off his phone, went out on the front porch and shot himself. In the two years that have followed, I have learned a great deal about surviving suicide.

In the early months following his death, I was in excruciating pain … all of the time. I felt like a fish hooked deeply and painfully. No amount of writhing or maneuvering could free me from that pain. I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t. I tried drinking, but drinking just made me sadder. Nothing brought relief. When I tried to think of what my future was going to be, I was overwhelmed by sadness and fear and revulsion for a life I didn’t want. Someone (actually, Ronnie Walker) told me not to think about the future –it was excellent advice. She told me to just try to get by minute by minute, until I could handle hour by hour. Two years later, I am able to think weeks or even months out, but trying to plan years out just depresses me. I have learned that’s ok, I only have to do what I can.

Several months after his death, the terrible pain started to ease. I thought I was returning to normal. When you’ve been so far down, each little improvement feels like a huge movement up. Other people also saw the improvement, and some felt like I was back to my old self. But I was not normal. I have learned that normal, if it returns, takes a long, long time. And that however long it takes, you have to accept that and work within your new limitations to get through.

I have seen that tiny disappointments can now result in emotional meltdowns and days and days of depression. My resiliency is not what it was. I had always been cheerful and optimistic, but eventually after the loss, to protect myself against disappointment, I began to imagine the worst and plan for it.I wasn’t obsessing about the worst; I was just preparing for it. If the worst didn’t happen, it was a relief instead of a crushing disappointment. Viewing the world that way works against my natural personality, but it allows me to function. Some people find it disturbing, especially if they knew me before, but I’ve learned to do what works for me.

I have learned that those who have not survived cannot be expected to understand what survivors are going through. People may be cruel, or they may be kind. In the early days, I reacted much too strongly to well-intentioned but ignorant people. Perhaps my reactions taught them something, but probably not. Now I’ve learned not to listen to the opinions of those who don’t know, and I’ve learned to tell them firmly (but I hope not rudely) that I hope they never have to know what they are talking about.

On this grief journey, I have changed. I was an outgoing, bubbly, optimistic person who loved life and truly believed that no matter how bad things looked, they would work out somehow. Now I know that terrible things can happen, and you may not be able to stop them. I used to believe my strength would allow me to absorb blows and move forward without being crippled by them. Now I know I can be brought to my knees in pain, but still rise up and live each day. And I have learned that even if you don’t really love all of life, there are still moments of great joy to be found that make it worthwhile.

I have learned that grief is selfish. When you are grieving, you cannot be the good friend and thoughtful daughter or sister or parent that you once were. I found the expectations and needs of others, however much they loved me, to be a burden. And for a while, that’s ok. But you do have to work back to thinking of others at some point. And I have learned that getting in touch with gratitude helps with that. Counting whatever blessings you can find helps heal you. This may feel like hard work, but trust me, without gratitude you won’t survive as a whole person.

And I have learned that as a survivor, I can be whole again. Perhaps I’m not the bubbly, outgoing, optimistic and resilient me that I was, but still a whole person. I may never have the life I wanted, but I am learning to accept the life I have and truly appreciate the good parts of it.

I am still on this journey. I can make the adjustments I need to make to compensate for the scars that I bear. I can contribute to the world around me. I can return the love that others give me. And I have learned that I can have wonderful moments that would not have seemed possible two years ago, and the only way to have them is to keep surviving.


This will be my first without my husband and also without my mom. I recently got back from my son-in-law’s funeral and while I was there, I received a text message from my nephew. It really pulled at my heart strings and made me do some deep thinking. He said that he was very proud of me for making the trip alone –a first for me flying somewhere by myself.

He said that he was worried about me after my mom passed, but then he became really fearful for my mental well-being after my husband completed, shortly after mom’s death. He said that my husband would be so very proud of me that I am making those very difficult first steps and trying to find my way in this new world.

The fact that I was able to travel by myself was a big step for me in gaining back a tiny sense of self. He made reference to the fact that he knows for sure that my husband would want me to thrive, as that man lived more in his lifetime than most people do in 10 lifetimes. He said that my husband would expect nonetheless from me. He said that I should honor my husband’s wishes and thrive and live life to the fullest.

I always remember my husband telling our grandkids, friends etc. that we should always “REACH FOR THE STARS.” Personally I feel like I am just going through the motions, still taking one day at a time because if I think too far past today, I start getting freaked out, and thinking about the future just makes me sad.

No one in my family really knows what to do for the holiday season. I think they are all tiptoeing around me for now because they don’t know what to say or what to do. We typically get together, so I thought a lot about it the last few days and decided that I was going to have Thanksgiving at my house. One of my sisters and her husband are going to come stay with me for a few days and help me do the setting up and cooking. Although I really don’t need the help, it will be nice to have someone here. I figured that if I didn’t do anything I would just sit here like a bump on a log and be miserable, sad and cry all day.

For me, working through my grief, staying busy really helps me mentally. I think my family is relieved that I volunteered to have it at my house. Maybe I will be too exhausted to think. That is my hope anyway. with cooking for at least 20 people. Good thing is I get to keep the leftovers ha ha ha –just what my big ole butt needs NOTTTT lol …


Originally published by DSM on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

The Journey: Choosing to Live

I’ve reached a point at nearly 10 months where I believe I have to make the biggest choice a person bereaved by suicide could ever have to make. The choice seems to be the choice to live. “Choose life.” I used to think this was a glib, shallow statement. But now I realize it is deep–so deep.

If I could choose to end this pain, would I? Yes! I am desperate to end the pain, but the problem is, it’s impossible, without ending life itself. I’ve been to the edge and back and in a way, I will always be drawn to just ending this pain, stopping it. This has affected my outlook on deep levels. I no longer care if I am diagnosed with cancer tomorrow. I don’t drink much alcohol, but I smoke now and again and I don’t care what it does to me. I completely understand now how some people can become drawn into and die from opiate addiction. I will never do that but I have 100% empathy for those that do.

The real choice is now showing itself to me: choosing to live.

Somehow, I have to do this while continuing to grieve. I didn’t think it was possible to do both, but I have reached a point of being so sick and tired of being in constant pain and sorrow. I’ve been making attempts to go out more socially and meet people. Every time I do this, I’ve been able to get a bit more of my personality back. I’ve enjoyed the distraction of talking to people and doing things, but always at the end of the day, I come back to being alone with myself and thinking of my partner and beseeching the universe to please send him back to me. What a huge hole he has left in my life and my being. He is so incredibly missed.

I must still make the choice to live, despite this. I feel I must go forward although the pain is so crushing at times I can hardly breathe. It is frightening to go forward because I’m scared I might at any point fall into a deep black hole. I don’t quite even know what I mean by this. I think I’m scared of further loss, further misfortune. It feels like any further hurt could break me. But yet again, this matter seems to come down to choice. Choosing to have this fear and still live life.

Perhaps I need to honor and respect the fact I have any such choices… perhaps I can choose to be survivor rather than a victim.


Originally published by Cathy70 on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

Survivor Experience: Those Unanswered Phone Calls From Him to Me

I have been re-playing and reliving those last sad agonizing hours –those unanswered phone calls from him to me. I remain haunted by the unanswered questions.


For whatever reason he was reaching out to me –and I will likely never really know why –the fact that he did is what led the police to contact me following his horrific and tragic death by suicide.

As I mentioned in my last letter to you, we had not yet announced our coming together to his friends or family. We had so wanted to do this together –in person. They likely would not have known to contact me –or how…

I may well have gone through days of agonizing why he wasn’t calling me –emailing me–texting me–or returning my attempts at contacting him.

I may have found out about his tragic and horrific death by an internet posting, a newspaper article, a rumour, or some other ghastly impersonal way….

His reaching out to me may well have been his last and most loving gift to me….

I am shaking and crying so hard I can barely type….

This is going to take some time to process…


Originally published by Inshock on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

The Journey: Two Years and Counting

Oddly I’m feeling him close to me again recently. Only this time it feels different. This time it feels like he is encouraging me and urging me on. Seems to be wanting me to know that he was sick and didn’t mean the things he said and did. Lots of subtle signs, special songs and just the way the parts of the universe come together sometimes. God, I don’t want to let go of him and what we once had! I know I have to move on–and I am–but it still hurts. It’s been so long it almost seems surreal to think that he was really here with us. I’m truly grateful for the occasional dream that let’s me live in my fantasy land for a bit.

The further I get from the chaos that was our final two years (of fifteen) together, the more I realize just how abnormal it all was. Just how serious his mental illness was. I cry when I think of the pain and turmoil he was in. I cry when I think of the mistakes I made along the way. I take comfort in knowing that he is resting now and finally at ease.

Once again, it’s time to reevaluate my life. I have been staying so constantly busy that I just haven’t found the time to go through most of his things. I have a million excuses for not facing this head on. It’s time to stop waking up in a bedroom that looks like he still lives here (guitar propped in the corner, clothes in closet, hat hanging on the door, his books on the nightstand). He doesn’t live here anymore but he will always live in my heart. I hope he knows how much I love him, that I forgive him and will NEVER forget him. I pray he forgives me too.

If I Could Have Just One More Day with You

I would shower you with kisses.

Walk hand in hand to the beach

And tell you over and over again

How much I love you

How much we all love you

How much we need you in our lives

How so very important you are

How you’re our son’s favorite superhero

How you’re in my every waking thought

And the thought of life without you undoes me

How much your son needs you to grow up and be a man–a good man like you

How the world became terrible when you left

How I have to learn to breathe again and I don’t want to

How sorry I am that I never told you enough of this when you were here

How broken we all are

How much I will love you forever

And every day I wake up

I’m a bit older

And closer to the day

We will meet again

And I will kiss you with tears streaming and wait impatiently for that day

And that’s when I will stop crying

And stop missing you

That moment I take my final breath.


Forever my husband and Jesse’s Daddy

Survivor Experience: Ride of My Life

I hate this roller coaster ride. It was not my choice to ride. I was pushed into it. Sometimes the ride is fine and at first I feel okay. “I can get through this,” I say to myself. Then out of the blue –like a sneaky trick –I am plunged into a dark hole that is so terrifying I have to use all my strength to hang on for dear life. The timing is unpredictable. In a twitch of an eye, the plunge starts in the middle of a job meeting, at a red light, in a store, with friends or not with friends. Alone or not alone. This is exhausting and I feel like a used worn wet rag.

The ride has a sadistic sense of humor. It doesn’t want me on alone so it sends others to keep me company. Their names are Guilt, Anger, and Depression. They are very friendly. They each have their own personality and want me to join in with them.

Guilt tells me, “It’s my fault, I should of been more aware and less self-absorbed.” Then Anger screams loudly to Guilt so I can hear him too, “It may be her fault but he should have never abandoned her like that!” Then my new companion, Depression chimes in sadly and says over and over “You both are right so why bother with anything –even living–because now nothing really matters.” These new companions never fail to point out something I didn’t realize or remember. They seem to make sense of this tragedy and I almost give in and believe them.

But then along the sidelines and in the stands I hear a team, people of all ages on the Alliance of Hope forum, male and female, each with different viewpoints and beliefs. Like one voice I hear them faintly at first and then more loudly. They say, “No, don’t believe them. They are not your friends! Your loved one was ill and didn’t mean to hurt you. Your loved one was in pain and wanted the pain to end. You would have done anything you could at that time to help. Don’t beat yourself up it is not your fault. You cannot control or make choices for others. They made their own choices good or bad. They would not really want you to suffer so much over this. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Cry and just breathe. It will be alright. Drink water and eat something nutritious. We’ve been through this and can help you get through this too. We will always believe you and support you. Always!”

Listening to this team, a warm feeling grows and gives me hope. I start to feel like I am getting stronger and want to trust and live again. I know deep down they are right and what they say is truth. My former companions Guilt, Anger and Depression start to fade into the background and the roller coaster becomes slower, steadier and more on an even keel and I want to get off.

Everyone here is that one voice -the Alliance of Hope team. You told me all these things and cared, loved and believed in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. This Memorial weekend I want to say thank you all for helping me get my life back. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you all. God Bless.

HomeyTheresa’s essay was originally published on the Alliance of Hope forum for suicide loss survivors and was reprinted with permission. HomeyTheresa lost her husband to suicide.

Clean the Toaster!

I’m in the grumpiest of moods today. I’m pissed off at work. I asked if we could get a new toaster for the office and was told to go clean the toaster. This has really irritated me because there are dozens of people who use it. I work at a landfill so you can imagine how dirty it is. When I would get told stupid things at work, I’d have M to bounce things off of and agree how stupid my coworkers can be. Now I sit here in a pissed off mood, angry I don’t have anyone to vent too, and am stuck with a disgusting toaster. I know it’s such a small thing to be irritated about, but in the big picture I don’t have anyone to tell these little things too. I feel like crying.

Originally published by Krisanc19 on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

Beyond Surviving

November 29, 1999. Alan and I had been seeing each other for a year. We were in love. We were planning a life together. But this night, just before we went to sleep, he said he felt a kind of terror inside.

He had just graduated from law school and had been hired by one of the top law firms in Los Angeles. But he hated the job. His passion was for helping people in need–especially children, and the law firm wasn’t giving him any satisfaction. I told him that he should start looking for general counsel positions in some of the non-profit organizations working on the causes he cared about.

That Tuesday night, I got home early and waited for Alan to get home to have dinner. But he didn’t call and he didn’t come over. My repeated phone calls to his office and cell phone went unanswered.

Just after 9:00 PM, the phone rang. It was his roommate: “Danny, Alan has hurt himself very, very badly. The paramedics are here. I’ll call you as soon as I know what hospital we are going to.”

Five minutes later, the phone rang again. It was Alan’s roommate once more. “Danny, I have some bad news. We’re not going to the hospital. Alan’s passed away.”

A friend drove me over to Alan’s apartment. There were EMTs and police there. I was in a state of total shock. I didn’t go into Alan’s room. They explained to me that he had suffocated himself. As I saw them roll the gurney in to take Alan’s body away, I started yelling, “I don’t want to see him in a bag. I don’t want to see him in a bag.” I went into another room and closed the door. I could hear the banging of the folding legs of the gurney. I heard the wheel squeaking as they rolled Alan past the door of the room I was in. It made me sick.

I didn’t go to the wake. I didn’t want to see Alan embalmed. I didn’t want to see that beautiful face with make-up caked all over it.

The first week was hell. Hours seemed to take months to pass. All I had any motivation to do was calculate the math for the time I had left on earth to endure the pain. I’m 39 years old. I just made it through a week. If I live to be 80, I need to do this 2,132 more times. I guess I can do that.

Friends sent me books about suicide. Night Falls Fast by Kay Jamison was especially helpful.

I once heard a minister say that when we are most broken, we are closest to God. One of the things that got me through the days was a paranormal sense of perception. I could see synchronicities that either never existed before or that I never noticed. It seemed like Alan was present–speaking to me. I was walking one day with a friend who was also grieving the loss of his partner. He stopped as we were walking and reached down into the gutter. He picked up a medal that had an angel on one side and an inscription on the other that said, “Angels shall guard thee.” He said I should have it. I wore it around my neck for the next seven years. Not more than a few weeks after he gave it to me, I was driving to the marina to meet Alan’s mother who had flown in for a visit. Driving down the 405, a rainbow appeared–the first I had ever seen in twenty years of living in Los Angeles. Alan loved rainbows. I told his mother the story of the medallion and showed it to her. Her jaw dropped. She opened her purse and pulled out a medallion identical to it–not close, but identical–that a friend had just given her.

I began to heal slowly. I let myself have my process, and I let myself heal according to my own schedule, and no one else’s. I didn’t pay attention to people who would say, “Aren’t you ready to move beyond that?” I knew I’d be ready when I was ready and not a moment sooner. I was kind to myself and I gave myself all of the patience in the world.

Two years after Alan died, I decided to launch a huge fundraising event to take suicide out of the closet and put it on the map. I had already invented the AIDSRides and the Breast Cancer 3-Days–events which had raised hundreds of millions of dollars for those causes. The new event was called, “Out of the Darkness,” and it would be a 26-mile walk through the night to raise money for suicide prevention. You had to raise a minimum of $1000 in order to go. 1200 people walked and netted 1.3 million dollars for the cause.

One year after Alan died, I met the kindest, sweetest, gentlest man I have ever known. Jimmy and I have been together now for eight and a half years, and six months ago, through the miracle of surrogacy, we had triplets–three beautiful babies, two girls and a boy–Annalisa, Sage, and Rider.I think fondly of Alan, but my heart has healed. The days of thinking my life was over have given way to the knowledge that my life has just begun.

I am filled with a sense of one powerful, singular truth, which is, if you just stay in the world, have patience and have faith, anything is possible–absolutely anything. God’s imagination is infinitely more powerful than our own, and if we just stay here, we will get to watch her play with it, and the most unthinkably beautiful things will unfold in our lives.

Just before our children were born, my friend who gave me the medallion that I’d worn around my neck for seven years gave me three beautiful little silver crosses, one for each of our kids. Now I wear them around my neck. Angels still guard me, but Jimmy and I have three little angels to guard on our own.

This essay was written and originally published on the Alliance of Hope blog in 2008.

My Morning Cup of Latte

It’s 5:00 am and I’m wide awake ready to start my day. This was my routine for years. As a woman who juggled a busy career and a family, I claimed the early morning quiet hours to be mine. The corner of the couch, my book and a cup of tea greeted me each day at the same time.

My husband who, by the way was never a morning person, teased me relentlessly about losing out on another hour of sleep each day before shuffling off to drop kids at school and head to work. I told him he should try it. That having an hour of no stress and just quiet time seemed to prepare me for my day. We both had careers in management and shared the stressful demands that came with it. Add in five kids to boot and you had what often times felt like a mixing bowl with the beaters on full speed and only dry ingredients. Years later my husband finally decided to try my “early morning rise and relax” therapeutic approach to life. The next thing I knew every morning at 5:00 am he would roll over and ask “are you ready? Let’s go, I’ll make the coffee.”

Our routine quickly became what would I would describe as one of my most beautiful times in my life. Reading a book at 5:00 am gave way to early morning discussions and opening up to each other. For the first time in years we got to know one another, every morning on the corner of the couch over a cup of coffee. We talked politics, our managing styles and challenges at work, kids, church, family and sometimes his depression.

One day he thanked me and confessed that he had never been a morning person and now after all this time he found that inner peace I often spoke of and explained that it really did help him prepare for his day. He was an amazing leader, passionate, visionary, inspiring and always wore a big smile. His hobby was restoring old cars and over the years we had what felt like a local car dealership with and endless variety of vehicles in various stages of restoration waiting their turn to shine again. Once finished he would sell that one and start the next.

We had all kind of adventures over the years, some with positive outcomes and others less desirable. Challenge seemed to be the norm in our family so we just learned to embrace the ever shaking ground beneath us and kept going. His worked moved us all over the U.S. and we never stayed in one place beyond 1-3 years. Our kids learned to be adaptable. Okay maybe more like tired of it but it was what it was.

I would describe him as someone who bored quickly. He was in need of something different and new all the time. This, in and of itself, was tricky as a spouse because about the time I thought he was finally satisfied, he was looking for his next fix.

He was a great dad although he second guessed himself much of the time. We were a blended family and our children were very young when we married. Our story isn’t perfect but certainly qualified for unusual. Our children meshed like biological children. We never used the term “step” and always referred to each other as dad, mom, sister or brother. Most people who knew us couldn’t even tell we were blended. Behind the scenes of course there were many of the challenges of working through the demands of “Ex’s” and the all too tiring push and pull of getting kids to the other parent and then back again. Stress, stress and more stress.

My inner dark thoughts and feelings bring me back to reality where I am still angry and sad. Still, as I look back it amazes me how much of the good I can focus on. It’s a beautiful story but I know behind it all a thread that once bound us all together has simply been pulled out, unraveling everything. Here I want to memorialize his beautiful soul, forget the wrongdoing, the disagreements, the imperfections and focus on just the happy parts of what was our lovely and sometimes dysfunctional life.

I still get up every morning and sit on the edge of the couch. I rarely read but in the quiet I whisper to him all the things I would say as if he were sitting there. Sometimes I feel like he’s actually there and it brings me peace. He was my morning cup of latte.


Originally published on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

Tips from Survivors: Accept Help

I just replied to a post here from someone whose family had just left and they were now alone. This really got my mind spinning, so I’ve decided to write this post.

On the day that my husband Tom took his life, the first person I called was my nephew. He’s 34 years old and a pastor. A year earlier his own father-in-law had taken his life. Jeff made calls to the rest of the family for me and then headed up here -a 500 mile drive -early the next morning.

That first night I was alone. I had told my neighbors I was just fine and needed to be alone. Wrong. I ended up calling the chaplain’s 24-hour hotline with a lot of worry about whether to call 911 for myself. I couldn’t stop shaking -my legs just continued to kick, my head was pounding, I was crying so hard I felt like I couldn’t get a full breath. That wonderful woman explained what was happening to me physically and the hormonal flush that was happening to my body due to stress. She talked to me from 11:00 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. I finally had calmed down. She told me I had to lay down, I didn’t have to sleep, but I had to rest. I never did sleep that first night, but I did finally calm down a bit and rest.

I don’t even remember my nephew Jeff actually arriving that next morning -lots of memory gaps in those first few weeks -but I clearly remember us sitting on the deck and him talking to me. I listened intently because I knew he’d been through this situation only a year earlier and I knew he loved me very much.

I clearly remember him very seriously saying: “You are a strong person, but you cannot do this on your own. You have to accept help from your family and friends. We’re all here for you. Don’t tell them you’re fine, you’re not, and it’s going to be a while before you are.”

The first time I laughed was that day when he so very gently said, “I mean nothing by this, just asking. Have you showered?” I told him I actually had showered that morning. He told me, all anyone can ask of you right now is to eat, drink, and sleep. If you shower, that’s a bonus. No one can expect anything more, including yourself.

His analogy of this grief was like walking into the ocean. In the beginning, every wave is huge and will take you down. Eventually smaller waves will hit you and you’ll stumble through them, then another huge wave will take you down. He said the waves will get smaller and there will be more time in between, but there will be times a monster wave will come out of nowhere and take you down again, but you will get back up, you will not drown.

He urged me to seek grief counseling, offered to take me to my doctor for medication, he cooked my meals, he offered to do ANYTHING, including clean my house. He sat in the living room and read while I talked with Tom’s sister in the kitchen. He wanted to give us space, but wanted me to know he was there for me if I needed him. He was my perfect first angel. He was calm and loving and he truly understood how I was feeling.

A week and a half later I saw a grief counselor for the first time. She urged me to call my doctor asap for some medication. I went home, called the doc, and saw him that afternoon. He did prescribe anti-anxiety meds for me for a short period of time to just help me breathe/sleep/calm down.

I had family and friends visit over the next few weeks, some staying for three days, one for ten days. I don’t know how I would have made it without all of them. They overlapped each other -as one left, another would arrive. I needed company, but I need peace, so one at a time was perfect for me.

I am extremely fortunate to have a couple next door that I’m very close to. They were here “that day” and have remained my guardian angels. In the beginning we had a code -once I was up, I opened the garage door. She would appear in her robe with her coffee within minutes. She and I would sit on the deck and just drink coffee and chat for a little while. I had dinner at their house numerous times. Sometimes one of them would just bring me a plate of food. She drove me to counseling since I couldn’t possibly drive myself -I had no focus whatsoever.

It’s been just shy of six months now. Of course I’m still not “okay,” but I realize I am going to survive this. In the beginning I couldn’t even function. Everything was difficult. I clearly recall having to purposely breathe. I’d get dizzy and realize I’d just stopped breathing. The first 10 pounds just fell off, then another 7 over time, but my weight has stabilized. I will survive.

I would just urge all of you to accept the help that’s offered to you. This is too huge to get through alone -at least it was/is for me. Whether it’s the county chaplain, your religious leader, doctor, counselor, family, friends, neighbors, accept the help. The people that care about you want to help you too. They can’t fix the situation, but I know that just cooking a meal for me helped them feel that they were doing something.

Sorry to have rambled on so long, but today I’m looking back and realizing how much help I was offered and accepted and how extremely grateful I am to all those people for the love and support they’ve shown me. I hope all of you have good people to help you through this time also. I also include all of you in my prayers regularly. I hope you feel the love of everyone on this forum. This forum has always been here for me too, 24/7, and it’s been a tremendous support.


Originally published by Tom’s Wife on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.

The Journey Continues

Good Morning. As I sit here mentally preparing for work – or trying to – I find that there are so many things going through my mind – and the questions continue – and fragmented thoughts lacking focus or purpose swirl about with seemingly random abandon.

It is so very difficult to see beyond his suicide. It feels impossible right now. It is almost as though my thoughts and perceptions have been hijacked by this tragic event. It dominates my every thought, my every moment, my every interaction.

I spoke with a very wise, compassionate, knowledgeable, and caring survivor yesterday. Someone who has walked many emotional miles and endured many hard fought years of learning and reaching out on this journey. She has embraced her healing. She is my hero and models someone I so aspire to. It was profound.

Through our conversation I was able to imagine and to hear of glimpses of a life no longer held captive solely by the specter of suicide. There was no forgetting. There was no “getting over it,” but I gained a sense that forgiveness, purpose, peace, hope, love, and empowerment are all possible –and that the joy I so miss can be had.

PTSD – the thief of my peace, the robber of my inner tranquility, the blinder of my perspective, the chain that binds me to my present state of chaos. Through this most comforting of conversations I have come to see that this phenomenon is something many, many of us survivors share. Its effects leave us feeling constantly helpless, hopeless, traumatized, and victimized –perpetually trapped in a whirlpool of despair.

Yet through educating myself about PTSD, perhaps the help of a skillful therapist, the support of other survivors, perhaps medication be that “natural” or conventional taken with due diligence, self-healing processes such as meditation and art therapy, and a purposeful desire to move through and beyond this PTSD, there lies hope waiting for me to grasp it and reawaken it.

I am coming to understand that I can eventually experience a shift of focus from the dominance of his suicide, to grieving and celebrating his life and to honoring him and myself through healing.

This journey is long and difficult. At every corner there are unknowns. I have no frame of reference for this, no personal compass to guide me. I am under no illusions now.

I know that I must embrace it if I am ever to see a life beyond it -or in spite of it -or with it. That I must not give up “the good fight” to my eventual healing.

And that I must, as I gradually grow physically and emotionally stronger, day by long day, week by week, month by month, year by year, become an active participant in my healing –knowing that there will be many, many times I will stumble and backslide. I did not ask for this, and neither did he. Nevertheless, it is here.

It is a process, a journey, a path that grows step by hard fought step, tear by tear, memory by memory, experience by experience, victories and set-backs, healing and renewal, throughout the remainder of my life.

I have no idea how this journey will continually reveal itself and I am frightened by the unknown, but continue I must.

A journey that continues, a personal odyssey, the honoring of his legacy and building of mine.

Be kind and gentle to yourselves,


From Anger to Sadness

I am so, so sorry for your loss. Sorry for all of our losses.

I experience anger all the time. Some ‘provoked’, some not. I have a very short fuse, and it’s been overwhelming and confusing for me. I’ve always been opinionated and strong, but had an optimistic disposition, and was pretty laid back.

I’ve come to realize that those characteristics are buried for right now, while I try to come to terms with this experience. I’ve tried to find healthy outlets for that anger –journaling, working out, taking a ‘ten count’ before I respond when I’m upset.

I can go from wanting to smash everything in my path, to gut-wrenching sobs in 2.4 seconds. So far I haven’t broken anything, but in my mind, I’ve smashed everything to bits. I’ve chopped wood a couple of times, and that seemed to help, except my concentration is gone and I nearly took off my foot. No more sharp objects for me!

I struggle in dealing with this aftermath. His pain is gone (and I truly am thankful for that,) but mine is never-ending. This is the part that makes me angriest I think. That and all the things he took from me when he left.

I’m just starting to wrap my head around the fact that he was terminally mentally ill. That quite possibly I prolonged his life by loving him as much as I did. … I realize he didn’t do this to me or to us. He was ill, his judgment clouded, his brain chemistry altered. When I think of those things – how ill he was, how much pain he must have been in, psychologically and emotionally to believe this was the only way out of his problems and pain — then my anger usually turns to sadness. Sadness for a beautiful life lost so senselessly and tragically.”