Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my son’s suicide.
I was blessed to receive phone calls and text messages from friends and family to check on me. They wanted to see how I was doing, did I need anything and let me know they were available if I needed to talk. Each one of these conversations were uplifting and encouraging. It meant a lot to know that people really do care and that my son is not forgotten.
As his angelversary approached, I went through my checklist of events leading up to his death.
When was the last time I saw him? When was the last time I talked to him? Where was I when I got the phone call?
Thanksgiving was the last time I saw my son alive. He stood next to me in the family photo with his left arm wrapped around my neck and his hand resting on my left shoulder. When I find myself missing him, I feel the weight of his hand. It is as if he is letting me know he is with me, and everything will be alright.
- What is the significance of the number 14? Friday. What is the significance of Friday. December. What is the significance of December. Separately, this date, day and month mean nothing in particular. However, when I put them all together, it is the day Connor died. This year December 14 was a Wednesday. But it is forever ingrained in my head as a Friday. It can’t be a Wednesday, Tuesday, or Sunday! It can only be Friday.
I am not sure why I think this way. To others it may be irrational and nonsensical. It is not harmful or damaging to anyone – including myself. Sometimes in grief, I hold onto some craziness to survive.
I thought about my son yesterday, yet it didn’t dominate my mind and what I did. I felt like his memory was running in the background of my life, not dictating each and every move.
As I was talking to one of those friends who checked in with me, I compared my grief to an app on my phone. An app that I don’t use all the time yet is easily accessed and requires very little energy. Yes, my grief now feels like an app.
After 4 years, I reached a point that if I don’t think about my son every day, I am okay with doing so. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. It simply means I am moving forward with life. As I must. As he would want me to.
As I work with clients, they find it difficult to imagine NOT thinking about their loved one. They think it is blasphemous, forgetting and dishonoring their loved one. Then one day, much to their surprise, a day goes by that instead of their loved one being the first and dominating thing on their mind, they have other thoughts. What will they eat today? When are they going to shower? Who will they talk to? What chore do they need to complete? At some point, they realize what happened.
At first it startles them, maybe guilt surfaces. At this time, in their loss journey, it is a normal reaction. I encourage them to give themself permission to heal. It is important to notice their progress and allow themselves to go on with their grief journey. They will come to the point that their grief runs in the background of their life. Forever present. Not always on.