Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My 6th month report card

When tragedy strikes, I've noticed there are two responses. People jump to surround you or they back away not knowing what to say or do. For the most part, I've experienced the former and cannot be more grateful. I think back to coming home from Dude's service and my mom was remarking how it seemed how I was protected that whole time. I had the opportunity to spend some hours on Davis School Road, to reconnect with people I hadn't seen since college, to meet some of Dude's friends I had always heard about but never seen face to face. They shared stories, condolences, laughter and sentiments. A few college friends and I went to Primanti's (which I thought was gross, but it was the first meal I'd eaten in a week) and we just wanted to be together. Nobody wanted to be alone. My closest friend from college, MSD, flew in to be there with me and to share a hotel room (the honeymoon suite of the Bridgeville, PA Holiday Inn! HA! That has a story in itself). I was in complete shock, in a fog, but in the darkest time in my life, I was not alone. And, I am still not alone. Even when I desperately want to be by myself and process what all of this means, God feels closest and sometimes it feels like Dude is close by, too.
I've experienced a good amount of loss in my life. All of my grandparents have died, my aunt was killed in a drive by shooting when I was 9, my childhood friend died in a house fire,we lost people in our high school (one to suicide), I was even close to death myself a number of times as I fought to stay alive the first three months of my life. But this is different. This hurts more than any of those other losses. This loss is complex and painful and shocking and sudden and confusing and heartbreaking. This loss is one that will leave a hole and questions that cannot be understood until I get to heaven. And, once I get there and I see Jesus and Dude, I probably won't even care to ask the questions that swirl around in my mind now. So, while those other losses are noteworthy, they aren't as profound or as deep as this one. This is whole new territory for me and I'm a terrible navigator.
I mentioned above that I am grateful for the way people have surrounded me during this. And I am. So grateful. But, with all of those people come a host of opinions about what I should do and how I should feel, most from people who have never experienced a loss like this before. I take in every word because I know they say it from a place of compassion even though I may not interpret it as such. But, I do have two people I use as my thermometers to help gauge my progress through this unfamiliar territory.  AJC, a close friend,  lost her mom four years ago somewhat suddenly. The other, MSD, was a psychology major, was good friends with Dude and I and knows me very well.
I remember when I first told AJC the news she brought to the forefront the roller coaster of grief I will experience for (unfortunately) the rest of my life. She said I just want you to remember you will have good days, bad days and sometimes you just won't know what will hit you when. But, she said, it is important to experience all of that, but to do your best to manage it so it doesn't always seem so overwhelming and debilitating. I've clung to those words and throughout this journey, I've tried to do my best to allow myself to experience the pain, but to continue to move forward. I talk to her almost everyday and I've been able to talk about things besides the loss with much more ease lately. Now, I know you're thinking that a lot of posts have been about grief. Yes, that's true because writing helps me sort it all out and I want to remember these feelings. It is also easiest for me to write about grief because there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about this. I have other posts they just take more effort and need pictures and I am too drugged up right now to get into all that. AJC also encourages me to continue with the support groups which have been so helpful and echo the ups and downs that she reminds me will be present.
MSD calls and checks on me every week. She offers a different perspective because she spent a lot of time with Dude and I. She also studied psychology and is in the healthcare field, so she tags her professional opinion onto our conversations at times. I mentioned last week that for the first time, I felt like I was making some progress. Her response, "You know, Jess, I agree. I think you are".


Toughest times: at night or early in the morning

Most helpful resources: Grieving a suicide by Albert Hsu, grief blogs and support groups, Mary

Treasures: my guardian angel earrings from Alyssa and John; the Lego White House Dude built before he died; photos

Most relaxing: talking to Ava

Biggest challenge: Prayer -- my mind is all over the place so I pray simple prayers

Most thankful: for my friends who surround me even when they aren't physically close, for the LSAT because it helps my mind tremendously and helps me to move forward.

Favorite grief eat: Cupcakes, duh!

Grade: P for Progress -- Not that close to healing, but progress, for sure.

Since I have never been through this before, I am thankful for everyone's support, and particularly the perspectives of AJC and MSD. As AJC reminds me, "You are going to get through this. You will not fall. There are too many people looking out for you and we will not let you fall". Truth.

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