Dear Fellow Survivor,
When I lost my son, Josh, to suicide in 2001, I wasn’t sure I would survive. Other survivors reached out to me in those early months and years, providing hope and that was so important. Many years have passed since then, and my pain has softened, but I still remember the searing and raw emotions of early grief and know you may be feeling that now.
They say that grief is a journey. I believe that is a good way to describe it. There are many things I have learned along the way, and I would like to share some of them with you. I have a strong suspicion that you also will relate to much of what I have learned.
I have learned compassion. My “old self” was so busy, I never really noticed others around me. Now I do. I even notice when strangers are unhappy. I feel for them and try to make the moment better for them, to bring them peace and comfort.
I’ve learned tolerance. Little things that used to seem so big to me, are now just a speck of dust. I’ve been through the worst event possible, so anything else should be a walk in the park. The ups and downs of everyday life, the disappointments when things don’t go as planned – well, they just don’t seem to matter anymore. Life goes on and I intend to live it to the fullest and not sweat the small stuff.
I’ve learned empathy. I can look into another person’s eyes now, or read a post on the Alliance of Hope forum, and feel the pain that person is feeling. Knowing how someone is hurting lets me offer comfort and caring.
I’ve learned to love. Without restriction, without rules, but with my whole heart and soul. I’m a much nicer person now than I was when my son died.
I’ve learned faith. It gets me through each day. The faith that all things happen for a reason, that there is a better place when life is over, and the faith that I will see not only my beautiful son again but all the others I have lost over the years as well.
I have learned these things because of my son, Josh. I miss him terribly, but I know I will see him again and I talk to him every day. I love him deeply, and I regret that he felt he had no option other than suicide. I understand the depth of his despair, and my heart aches with him.
For those just starting on this journey through grief, I hope this gives you hope. Life will go on, and if you learn from the experience, it will be a fulfilling and peaceful life again – just different from what you thought it would be before you lost your precious loved one.