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Thursday, September 5, 2013

on loss and grieving

Paul and I received news that one of his best friends died Tuesday.  And just like that, the world as we knew it before is over and things are changed.  When I find out someone I care about has died, my brain separates time into before I found out they died and everything that comes after.  It sounds a tad dramatic, but it's the best way I can describe it.  Life just isn't quite the same when you lose someone you love. 

Our friend took his own life.  I debated sharing that piece because ultimately it doesn't matter how our friend left this world, what matters right now is that he's gone.  This is the second suicide Paul and I have experienced since being together, and I'm having the unfortunate opportunity to learn that this form of death changes the grieving process.  There's more guilt, confusion, anger, "if onlys" and "what ifs."  But ultimately, the reality is the same.  The person you love is gone, and no amount of questions or what ifs will bring them back.  

Paul compares it to a heart attack.  For some people, they can survive their first heart attack and go back to living their life.  For others the first one is massive and deadly.  The first person we lost had many "heart attacks," the friend we just lost only needed one. 

The past twenty-four hours have been a blur.  They've been filled with shock and a feeling of numbness.  We saw our friend just two weeks ago on our trip to Oregon.  We visited the coast together, we watched seals together, we got beer and crab together.  He's so alive in our pictures, how could he suddenly just be gone?  

People who knew our friend are heartbroken by his death.  Heartbroken is an accurate description.  Grief breaks open your heart and fills it with emptiness.  You go about your life the best you can and wait for your heart to slowly return to its new normal.  You take the support from family and friends and slowly let your heart heal and fill with their love.   

I've learned that I only make it through these sad hard times by surrounding myself with people I love and by staying active.  We kept plans to go to the Mumford and Sons concert Tuesday night, instead of sitting at 
home.  The concert didn't feel the same of course, but it felt like the right place to begin grieving.  We received messages throughout the concert from family and friends expressing their condolensces.  I remembered how comforting it feels to hear "let me know if there's anything I can do."  The presence and words of comfort of loved ones is so healing.  

The next few weeks and months and anniversaries will be difficult.  It feels too overwhelming to think of making it through this whole period of grief with Paul, so I'll do my best to sit with the pain of the present.  I'll remember how many good memories we had with our friend.  I'll support Paul the best I can and let him handle his grief in his own way.  I'll let myself feel what I'm going to feel and be gentle with myself with whatever form my sadness takes. 

I never feel more grateful for time we spend with family and friends then at times like this.  Life is so short, and I am so thankful we have lots of good memories with the people we love - I'll use this as a reminder to hold the 
people I care about in love and make sure they know how important they are to me. 

Paul has shared information about the Suicide Prevention Network to our friends.  If someone you loved has died by suicide, remember you are not alone. 

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