Dan – the trauma of losing you has passed. But the grief of missing you, and my love for you, is just as strong as ever.
It’s been 13 years today since I lost my fiance, Dan Rieske, to Clinical Depression. He had a potentially fatal disease, yet he refused to seek medical treatment because our society told him it wasn’t a physical illness but a weakness of character. He was ashamed by his illness because the world around him told him he should be ashamed.
My daughter also has a mental illness, and the same society that drove Dan to suicide also tells her the same thing. “It’s all in your head” “You’re such a weirdo” “You just want attention” “You need to get off all that medication and find out what the real problem is” “Everyone gets depressed, you just need to learn better coping skills”
Hey society, we know what the problem is – a chemical imbalance in the brain. Dan and my daughter and everyone else with a mental illness have no more reason to be ashamed than a person with Alzheimer’s, or brain cancer, or Parkinson’s disease, or any other physical disability in their brain.
Our society is the one who should be ashamed. Every person who has ever questioned my parenting skills, or my daughter’s character, or pushed me for the “real” reason Dan committed suicide – should be ashamed.
She lost her battle with cancer, and leaves behind her partner, my friend Bobby. I’m very upset. She struggled for so many years. It doesn’t seem fair, but does it ever? I’m having a hard time expressing my sadness and anger. I know I need to cry and I just can’t. For some reason, I’ve always struggled with expressing that kind of emotion. Crying. It doesn’t come easily for me, and I don’t know why. But after my experience losing Dan, it’s become even harder for me to express grief. I think because my grief for Dan was so traumatic, I’m afraid to go down that road again.
Dear Suzy, I feel the tears welling up and my chin begins to tremble. But then I blink, shift my focus, pet the dog, clean something. Until my mind wanders back to you again. The tears haven’t fallen yet, I’m afraid to let them go. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to say goodbye. You had the best Christmas tree of anyone I’ve ever known. You were gracious and kind to everyone you met. You saved Bobby’s life. You are dearly loved. You will be sorely missed.
You who could not stand to hurt the smallest of creatures, how could you end your life so violently? You who knew that I could not stand to see an injured animal, how could you leave me to find my heart and soul in a pool of blood? Oh my God! Please just don’t let this be real, or please let me escape the images and the pain.
Yet I know in my heart that in your darkest hour that morning, you did not wish to hurt me. I just have to believe this. Today I don’t see any way to keep living, but I must because of our son. How I would love to sleep forever and let the pain go.
Grief is the normal reaction and response to loss. The loss can be due to a death, divorce, loss of a job, loss of custody of a child, or anything involving the separation of the individual from someone or something important to them. Often, when we think of grief, we only think of death, but the loss of a relationship can feel exactly like death to many people.
It can be quite scary and alarming to watch someone in the deepest throes of profound grief. Often, people will become almost paralyzed with uncertainty about how to help, or what is normal. Sometimes, normal grief can become “complicated grief” in which grief becomes debilitating and does not improve over time. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that a person cannot accept the loss and resume their life.
On the flip side, many times a grieving person will hide away the true extent of their suffering. The people around them may not know how much pain they are in, and how much support they really need.
I’ve added another resource for grief support to my Resources/Support page. It’s a grief support program with a group locator. I typed in my zip code and got a very long list of local churches that are hosting grief support groups. It does seem to be a Christian church centered program, although searching around on their web site, I see no indication that this is a Christ-centric program. It appears to be for all, and the program looks quite exceptional.
The group locator includes the US, Canada, and International. Here is the link: Find A Group
If anyone has, or does participate in the program, please let me know how it is, thanks! Also, if you know of other wonderful grief support, mental health support, or suicide prevention resources, please share them with me!
In many ways, it’s more difficult for me to discuss grief than suicide. You would think it would be harder for me to talk about the suicide of my fiancee, Dan, than to talk about the grief I experienced after his death. But, when I talk about suicide, I talk about HIM. When I talk about grief, I have to open up about ME. Show all the pain I hid away for so long…
Yeah…that can get rough.
Below are the 2 posts I’ve written that are specifically about Grief. Please take a moment to check them out: