Monday, December 3, 2012

The Roller Coaster

We've hit the eight month mark since Dude took his own life and all of us close to him embarked on this grief journey. It's not a journey we ever expected to be on. Not one that we would ever choose. I can say there has been some intense pain, sorrow, anger, thankfulness, blessing and growth all mixed in these eight months. There have been some very dark times and some times when the light shines ever so brightly through the darkness. There are days when it is hard to believe it has been eight months already. Sometimes it feels like it has been a matter of weeks; others, it seems as if years have gone by!

A couple days ago when I started thinking about how I was feeling and what I wanted to capture at the eight month mark, I was excited to say that I finally felt like I was coming alive! And, I would still say that is true. I am starting to come alive and will write another blog post about how it really is true that joy can be mixed with sorrow, light does shine through the darkness, and moving forward with your life is the best way to honor your loved one. When I set out on this journey I heard all of those things, but didn't believe them. They just didn't seem possible - at least not for me. But, I've slowly come to see that they are possible and I am slowly experiencing this joy without guilt.

As I was watching Sunday football, my feelings started to change a little bit. Consequently, I felt I would be lying if I told you I was doing really, really well after 8 months. My feelings began to change when I heard the news of the Kansas City Chiefs player that shot his girlfriend and then took his own life in front of his coaches. Upon hearing the news, I remembered the intense pain that I have experienced and my heart breaks for those families. I know their pain and I never wanted anyone else to experience this pain. The news also made me thankful that nobody but Dude was hurt in his last act. He took his own life, but did not intentionally hurt anyone else.

Many people think suicide is a selfish act. I used to think that before I became a suicide survivor. Having seen the immense pain that Dude was in, I am convinced that he took his own life to end his own pain. I harken back to my own experience after surgery when I typically get this allergic reaction. The itching is so bad that it turns into pain. I start to go crazy and beg the nurses to do anything, anything to stop the pain! I imagine that my pain paled in comparison to his, but the desire to stop it was just the same. He was sick and believed the only way to end his pain was to end his life.  He also did not understand the amount of pain he would leave with those left behind. If he truly understood the magnitude of his decision, he would have never done what he did. He never wanted to hurt anyone.

I feel for the family and friends of the two victims. The pain is unimaginable, unspeakable, devastating and confusing. I remember the days when I was in pain so deep it was hard to see a way out. I watch his teammates moved by emotion and remember Dude's funeral and the days and weeks following when a bunch of grown men just crumbled into a puddle of tears. A sad sight. A sad sight, indeed.

Even though the recent events in Kansas city brought back a little of the initial pain, I was also able to go out and buy a Christmas tree and ornaments this weekend. I was able to do some Christmas shopping and to experience joy.  Joy without guilt, which is huge! The tragic events reminded me of the tragedy in my own life, but my response also served as a measurement for how far I have come in my grief journey.

Losing your best friend SUCKS. It is a life altering experience and I have had to work very hard to get to where I am today. On Thanksgiving, it felt like Dude was missing. Last week, I burst into tears because I desperately wanted to call Dude and tell him something. The realization that I couldn't was heart-wrenching. Some days I get a little angry about all that has happened. But, all in all, I have this incredible sense that he is with me. Always. I have also noticed that there are less days with tears. Not a day goes by that I do not think about what happened. I think about Dude and what his new life with Christ must be like. I imagine that I will always think about him. It's not easy nor wise to forget such an important person that influenced half my life. I also know that even though he is gone, he will continue to influence my life. He and Jesus are always with me.

Thanksgiving is over, but I am still grateful. Grateful for my faith. Grateful that God created me to feel a range of emotions and loves me unconditionally. Grateful that my response to the recent tragedy showed me how far I have come. They aren't kidding when they say grief is a roller coaster. I have always had a love/hate relationship with roller coasters. Many I am scared to get on, but am proud that I did when the ride is over. This grief journey will not end quickly, but I am proud of the progress I am making. It's a growth experience.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever
1 Chronicles 16:34

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