It has been two years since the loss of Kyle to suicide, and looking back I wonder how we have made it this long. A dear friend, who has lost a child of her own, recently sent me the email from our conversations and our joined pain. Although the pain is as real and the hurt just as deep, the despair has subsided. I contacted her because I knew that she knew my pain. How it happened doesn't matter, only that it has happened. From day one, I didn't know how we would continue, and she let me know it was one minute, one hour, one day at a time. And that is true, not figurative. I wanted to die right then, right there, and end the pain. I knew that what was good and right in the world was no longer in it. I knew that for as long as I lived, I would have a void in my heart, an inability to feel true joy, and inescapable pain. Two years later and those thoughts have so far been true. Seven years later for my friend and I believe she feels the same way.
If you are reading this searching for answers to your own loss, I cannot give you answers, only suggestions for things that have aided us. My friend was very helpful in her words about one step at a time, one day at a time. There is no big picture. There is no time frame. There are only steps, acts. Take one step. Do one thing. Then do the next. Then the next. Get professional help immediately, for your sake and for the sake of others. There is no shame in getting help in any aspect of your life. The damage to your heart, soul, and being is as real as a broken leg or cancer, so get the help of a professional. We have gone to counseling as a family and individually. I have been on and off meds for the past 2 years. I am broken as a person and sought help, so if you are experiencing "unseen" pain, do the same. It helped our family to get on the same page, help to understand what steps would help us, help us to understand the differences in our grief and how it is shown, and the importance of planning for days in our lives that we cannot avoid.
For me, my faith in God, the loving grip of my family, and the active warmth of my friends have helped me each day. It is easy to say faith in God, and of course your family loves you, but let me emphasize the "active warmth" of friends. Texts are good. Calls are good. Cards in the mail are wonderful. Nothing helped me more than the physical presence of friends. If you want to help your grieving friend the most, be there in person. And don't take no for an answer. In fact, it might even be best to show up unannounced. The loss of Kyle threw me into depression (not that I am out), and it is so easy to say "no" to invites. Really it is so easy to say "no" to everything. Do not give up on your friend and say " Well, I asked them" or "I guess they don't want to see anyone". Of course we don't. We hurt so badly that we do not want to see anyone or do anything ever again. We want to crawl underneath the covers and wake up in our heavenly home with our precious child. But we (those of us with losses, in pain) need you here, now, on earth, even if we don't make it easy.