I would imagine that anyone who has suffered a tragedy at some point – in my case, the suicide of my brother nine months ago – hears comments to this effect: “Oh, but compared to what you’re going through, my problems are meaningless … I feel silly telling you.” I know these comments come from a place of kindness, but it can be incredibly frustrating.
After a tragedy, the hardest thing to reclaim is any sense of normalcy (hence, the name of this blog!). Whether you like it or not, you’re thinking about what happened each and every day. Knowing that life goes on around me, as unreal as it may seem, helps with the healing and makes it seem like it just might be possible to someday move past my grief.
So on behalf of all of the “survivors” out there, yes! We want to hear your problems, challenges, fears, heartbreaks. Your problems are not meaningless or petty – they are real, they are yours, and we want to know what’s going on in your life. Yes, we have gone through (and are going through) something terrible, but we do not own the world’s pain, nor have we set extreme benchmarks for what constitutes a “problem”.
I know that in some ways, I will always be known as “the girl who’s brother killed himself”. I cannot change this. But I will not let it be the only thing that defines me.
I have been shown amazing levels of kindness and friendship since my brother died – and I look forward to returning the kindness to my friends in need.
How bold to be so open. Good for you. Let it be contagious; I guess it already is. It is so difficult being honest sometimes, for me… I certainly can’t speak for anyone else… because honesty demands owning that pain you write about, accepting the events as a fixture and over time allowing the good memories to be the dominant. The love, positive influence, funny moments–the good chapters are fixtures too. For me, it has taken the passage for time–in some cases decades–for my emotions to strike a balance.
My father died when he was one year older than I am now. A young man who loved his three sons.. I never really allowed myself to mourn- that would be owning the pain. Instead, for years, I was very angry and deeply sad. He and I were born on the same day of the same month, and no one else provided the raw material and fuel that made possible the life I lead. Now, many many years later, he visits me me, bringing different episodes from our time together. Sometimes, whatever it is, makes me chuckle–like the time he was trying to teach how to swim under, but his body never left the surface.
What hurts the most in me now is not the loss, but the many things a did to make his life more difficult. And how absolutely oblivious to all the work he did to ensure my life is better than his was.
Death, regret and confusion a sharp and painful reoccurring theme throughout my life. Almost two dozen members of my senior high school died before graduation. Over doses, drunken house fires–horrible middle of the night auto accidents took the lives of six friends. Half of them were in a band with me. I was directly responsible for the accident that killed the other three.
Homicides, shootings, knife fights (once cut a kid)–all these things and more I store in an iron vault within.
Laura- I have never discussed, or certainly written about it ever before. I have found that I can’t live my life in a constant state of regret, although sometimes I unavoidably do. Its all in there somewhere.
What I can do is help other and make amends (although attempting to make ammends is not always welcomed
Thank you Sol, for showing such honesty. It’s hard – and it can be painful. But after only nine months I realize that if I don’t let it out, I. Will. Explode. I know you have a bit more distance between now and the time when your life shifted its normal … but it’s never too late to start to heal. I’m only one door away, and mine is always open if you need it. 🙂
How wonderful to read your blog and to keep up with you through what you write. Thank you for sending me the link. I think of you so often, especially as I’m in the final stages of organizing the book to send out to publishers. I did readings from it this past summer and the work was well-received – always an encouraging moment for a writer.
I look forward to reading these entries and the ones to follow.
Thanks Anne! I never considered myself to be much of a writer, but with everything that has happened over the past year there are so many stories and observations waiting to pour out of me. Please excuse the amateurish writing – I never was one for similes and metaphors – I’m just trying to finally be honest about how I feel and how well (or not-so-well) I am moving on.
I’m late to the reconnect party, and did not know about your brother. I can’t say I ‘get’ what you must be going thru except that my aunt & uncle killed themselves when I was in the 3rd grade — my cousins, who came to live with us, were profoundly hurt/damaged by the act. I am so, so, sorry for your loss.
However, I do understand/have experienced a bit about grief & loss & moving on (or not) … our roads are somewhat different, but feel free to reach out if you need an ear … Kate