“Life is short. Life is fragile. Things can change in an instant.”
We’ve all heard these clichés throughout our lives. They are often said without much thought. We often just agree with these ideas, but usually think, “It will never happen to me.” That’s what I always thought growing up; that these were just sweet quotes people said, but this year I learned they are, in fact, all very true and real.
We usually do not think about how fragile life is or how much it can change in the blink of an eye. Once you experience a suicide loss, this becomes very real. When someone ends their life, their single act – in one instant – takes one life away and changes other people’s lives forever. It is that one moment that changes everything. And those few minutes will forever alter who you are.
After losing my mother, I recall researching her method and trying to calculate how long it took. How did I not find her in time? Was it painful? And the questions went on and on. Then one day, through tear-filled eyes, after three days of not sleeping, I realized it took all of one minute for her to die – just 60 seconds. There are 1,440 minutes in each and every day, and this one minute, despite the other 1,439, changed my life forever.
As time went on, this thought bothered me more and more, and I began to realize that, yes, this did change my life (and me) as an individual forever, but am I really going to let one minute ruin the 60+ years I hope to be lucky enough to still have on this planet? No. It will always affect me, and I will always long for my mother, but would she want me to let this define me? Break me? Depress me? I don’t think any loved one wants that for another.
I know it breaks my heart to know she was there, so why would she want me to be there? She was on this planet for 45 years, and one minute changed what could have been her life. It could have been a beautiful life filled with grandkids, traveling, and leisure, but she could not get through that minute.
An appreciation of time and how much time we have here is something I’ve gained from this loss. Life is so short, and it really is so fragile. It ends in an instant. Everything – all the relationships you have built, the bonds you have made, and your accomplishments, can be gone in one moment.
I never realized this before my mother died. Everyone close to me, who died before her, had been sick for at least a few weeks – except for 2 or 3 accidents. Losing my mother showed me that I need to value the time I have here – to create a beautiful and happy life that my mother would be proud of and take care of myself and my mental health in order to achieve this.
Those we have lost would not want us to live in agony, for that is not how you love. So, if you can honor your loved one by taking care of yourself, and turning back into life, try. They didn’t get the chance to, but this experience can show you how important it is and just how quickly it can all be taken away. Try not to focus on what you’ve lost, but view what you still have.
I had 21 years with my mother. My siblings got less, and I am sure many others in the world as well. I had her at my first day of school, graduation, when I got my license, went to college, and bought my first home. Yes, she will miss the rest of my life, but I will live it as if she’s still there, always cheering me on, because that’s what she’d want.
Life can still be joyous and beautiful after a suicide loss, but you may need to change your perspective.