# 46 – #MondayBlog – Coping with a Loss from Suicide

# 46 – #MondayBlog – Coping with a Loss from Suicide

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“How you cope with a loved one that has died by suicide.”  This is a tough question because for one – I am so saddened that someone else had to go through what I had gone through, and two – I am definitely not an expert and I live day by day.  However, I tend to jump at the chance to help someone else or offer advice when needed…it’s therapy for me too!  (So trust me…ask away! And I am particulary thankful I received a request to write on this topic…so thank you!)

I lost my husband in 2011, almost 5 years ago….

It doesn’t get easier with time as many people say. Which I hate to say…but it’s something that just kind of sits there in your mind…no better…no worse.  You just learn how to cope.

I had two, practically babies, to raise and I think I just went into a mode where I had to worry about them and everything else that my husband left behind.  I don’t think I even worked on coping for the first few years.

It’s a very hard topic to understand and in the beginning and I would read a lot about suicide.  However, I stopped because then the blame game comes into play.  You read about the signs and then you think “Oh my god it was right in front of my face”, but it’s not your fault.  It’s not anyone’s fault.

One of the first things I did was go to therapy.  I just needed to talk about so many different topics.  Now I know, therapy is not for everyone, but it has and does help me a lot and I continue to go to this day.  It is just nice to talk to someone, who has no relation to the family or the issues and get their advice.  Sometimes I think I just sit there and blabber about nonsense, but it gets it off my shoulders and doesn’t add it to any of my friends or families shoulders.

I have also attended a conference they have once a year at a local community college that is for Suicide Survivors and at one point in the conference they break you out into groups by the person you have lost.  This was the first time I have spoken with other people that have also lost someone to suicide.  It was a very emotional experience; however, you almost develop a deep connection with people that were once strangers.  Support groups are also good because you see people at all different stages of grief and listen to how they cope with their feelings.  You finally have that “Me too!” moment with people that “get it”.

I have also participated in Out of the Darkness walks every year since Dan has passed away to raise money for research and education.  This is another place that, unfortunately, gets a larger and larger group each year, but it is also a way to connect with others who know exactly what you are feeling.

It’s not easy and there is no magic answer.  This year was a particularly hard year for me around November (when he passed) to about the beginning of this year.  I feel like life has settled down and I am finally dealing with the loss.  I don’t think I have yet to completely deal with the loss, but just always remember, one day at a time.

I think of him several times a day and that has never stopped and I don’t want it to either.  I guess it’s just how you start to look at the situation and how you need to move forward with your life.

I know I have only scratched the surface of this topic, but if there is anything you would like specifically answered or how to find resources to help deal with your loss, please reach out and I will offer whatever assistance I can.

I have a feeling there will be a Part 2….stay tuned.

Picture by: Ivan Friande Lic: CC

Kristen

# 16 – Getting Back to Reality

# 16 – Getting Back to Reality

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As I return to work today from being on disability from my gallbladder surgery, I can’t help but think the last time I was out of work for an extended period of time is when my husband passed away.  It’s also kind of ironic that this morning I must have passed three BMW’s…all white…(which was his favorite car), all in a row.  So talking to out loud, I said “So you must be with me this morning” and “Did you see those crazy boys of ours horsing around at the bus stop…boy they really need you to wrestle with”.  I asked him to give me some extra strength to deal with the tough times and I miss him.

It’s been a long time since I have actually talked to him out loud.  His name gets mentioned a lot throughout the days.  The boys and I were discussing how D looks just like him and has his broad shoulders.  It makes them smile and my heartbreak at the same time.

A few weeks back I sent away to get some old camcorder films made into DVD’s….I CANNOT wait to get them back and have the boys watch their father.  Especially M, he can’t remember him and he tries so hard to recall those memories.  These movies will forever be treasured (and please let there be some decent footage too!)

I once had a friend tell me to make sure I get a wedding video because her daughter had suddenly passed away and she always has that to watch.  I did not get the video…I thought it was an extra expense and I hate the way I look on film.  Well now I wish I had that video so badly.  We didn’t have iPhones then for anyone else to have any video either (wow I feel really old saying that but really it wasn’t that long ago).  I recommend to anyone getting married….get the video.  It will be cherished by plenty of others besides just you…who cares how you look on film.  Also family pictures…my husband and I never got a chance to take a full family picture.  It was always on our “To Do” list.  Now I get family pictures done of me and my kids (even though I continue to hate being in pictures).  My photographer put it perfectly….they are not going to cherish the pictures of themselves when they get older, it will be the ones where you are also in them.

~ K

Picture by: Ales Kladnik Lic: CC

# 14 – Problems…We all Have Them

# 14 – Problems…We all Have Them

15347212616_98af610d11_cPicture by: Tobias Wrzal Lic: CC

Problems….It’s probably the one thing we all have in common.  There are so many cases where everything looks bright and shiny on the outside, yet there is something brewing on the inside of everyone.

I feel like I always catch myself saying, “Everyone has something”.  I’ve had my own share of problems and even now I am envious of certain people that look like they have it all together…wishing my life was more like theirs…amazing wardrobe….make-up always done nicely…kids are so polite….beautiful house.  I try to tell myself, don’t be jealous…it’s an ugly trait. Plus, who really knows what goes on behind closed doors…you may not want their life either.

I participate every year since Dan has passed away in a walk through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I have to tell you….each year the crowd gets bigger and bigger.  It makes me so sad just to look at these other people and I am wishing they did not go through what I have been through.  Everyone has shirts made up of their lost loved ones…some with pictures, sayings, team names, dates….and suicide does not discriminate.  You see all ages…unfortunately.

We all wish we could go back in time and do a million things differently….but you know what….we can’t.   We have to accept what is and move forward.  I hope by volunteering in these walks, donating money to research, attending support groups…that somehow these numbers of people will decrease each year.

All we can do is try, right?!?

If you would like more information on the Jersey Shore Walk or any AFSP walks that are held around the country, you can visit their website www.afsp.org or my personal donor page can be found at Walking for Dan.

~ K

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#4 Holidays and All of that In-Between

IMG_7130On the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day, the kids are bouncing with excitement that the Leprechaun will be making a visit to our house, while they are asleep, to cause mischief.  Trust me when I say this……this was NOT my idea.  Some teacher of D’s told him this story and now I have had to follow through each year.  So here I was after work, searching through a CVS looking for Lucky Charms, St Patrick’s Day anything, and gold chocolate coins.  When D got home from school, he must have spent an hour creating a “Leprechaun Trap” to catch him in the act!  This little a**hole is not causing chaos in my house….it’s currently in a decently clean state.  And why D printed a picture of his brothers face on the trap…is still a mystery to me.

I have a love hate relationship with holidays…any of them.  The magic that I see in my kids eyes make it all worth it.  If I did not have them, honestly I would not celebrate probably more than half that I do now.  It has been very hard to get excited about any holiday anymore.  It is painfully obvious when the whole family gets together, that I am there…alone.

The first Christmas we spent in our new home, it felt so strange setting up the gifts all by myself, taking a bite out of the cookie, making sure Santa drank his milk, and the reindeer got their special food we made them.  I also found some money left under Santa’s plate from D….”just in case”.  I know Dan would have gotten a kick out of that one!!  Waking up Christmas morning, was soooo extremely exciting for the kids!  As any kid, they couldn’t contain themselves and the size of their eyes grew when they saw the tree with all of the presents.  “It was worth it” I said to myself when only a few hours earlier I was finishing wrapping what seemed like a million presents and filling the stockings, cursing the whole way through.  When I finished and saw all the presents by the tree and lit so beautifully….I missed him…bad.

Parts of me get mad he’s not here.  How could you miss all these birthdays, holidays, school accomplishments, parent teacher conferences (those are up there with hurting the most actually).  I won’t know the answer….ever.  But please keep the signs coming…they mean more than you know!

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

~ K

#2 Becoming a Widow at 32

#2 Becoming a Widow at 32

I never realized how fast your life could change…until the day that did change my entire life…happened.

Forever engraved in my head, sitting at my in-laws house waiting….waiting….waiting. Listening to the sounds of my mother-in-law giving my children a bath upstairs.  All I could think was…this kind of thing does NOT happen to us.  Everything will be fine.

Then it happened…no one likes to see the police office walking up to your front door.

All I remember saying is,

“But he is going to be alright, right?!” 

The Police Officer saying “What do you mean?” 

“You will take him to the hospital and he will be alright, right?!”

My husband died from suicide.  I had two boys that were 15 months old and 4 years old at the time….what the hell was I going to do?!?  Why did this happen?  Why didn’t I go after him?  A million other questions fogged my brain the entire night.  I remember waking up the next morning at my in-laws house and watching my 15-month old son play in the living room at the crack of dawn.  What was I going to tell my kids?  How will I be able to walk back into my home?

In all honesty, I don’t really remember what exactly happened the next few days.  What I do know is that after the wake and funeral….I had to be a mother and keep going.  I had to take charge of what was going to happen with everything that had lose ends and everything in the future.  Thinking back on it now, I think “How in the world did I handle all of that”, but I was in auto-drive.  I couldn’t curl up in a ball and lay in my bed all day, even though that is ALL I wanted to do.  My boys depended on me, I can’t let them down.

I am devastated……but I got this (I hope)!