With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I’m trolling my Facebook wall and everyone is making plans to spend the day with family and friends, eating, watching football, and celebrating. My family plans to do all this as well, but there is a damper on this Thanksgiving, it will be our second one with my brother Pete took his life and the first since Alexandra and Stephanie took theirs in January and October of this year. On top of having to get through Thanksgiving, Monday will be two months since we lost my sister. Sometimes it really does feel like the hits just keep on coming.
One thing my family and I decided to do tomorrow is to make sure that we give thanks for the things that we have as well as saying something we are thankful for about the family members we have lost. It’s funny how all of us in the past 16 months have had the same experience of people avoiding any conversation of Pete, Ali or Stephanie, as if mentioning their name, might somehow make us hurt again (I find it funny that all these people actually think that any of us have STOPPED hurting since they died).
Personally, one of the things that I’m most grateful for is the shower, silly as it sounds, because it truly is the one place in the house where I can go and be completely alone. I take REALLY long showers, almost to the point of cold, because it is one of the few places that I go and cry as loudly as I want and no one hears me. I know there have been full days and even one full week, that I can remember where I didn’t cry at all and at first I felt guilty about that, but eventually my therapist managed to finally get me to believe that smiling, being happy or not crying does not mean I have forgotten or that I’m “over it.” It simply means that I’m starting to make peace with it and moving on a bit. Once I decided to go back to school and have a specific goal in mind (wanting to use my tragedies to help others either avoid the same tragedy or help them get through it). The people who know me the best say they haven’t seen me so focused and driven. I think one of the main reasons for this is because I do not, under any circumstances, want my brother, niece and sister’s deaths to be in vain. I am going to have something positive come out of this. I’m moving in that direction as I get more and more involved in groups such as With Hope, the Amber Craig Memorial Foundation (www.withhopefoundation.org) and the AFSP (www.afsp.org) by becoming a policy advocate on the Federal and state levels. I will be contacting my representatives in the Federal and State branches of government, advocating for the AFSP to get policies added and/or changed to make mental health illness and suicide prevention more public to save lives.
People that I know often tell me how strong I am my family thinks I’m the “rock” that’s holding us together. The problem with having those “labels” makes it hard for me to publicly show or tell anyone how I’m really feeling. I do have one friend who will listen to me over and over and over, will spend time with me even if I turn into a bawling lunatic and prays for me everyday. Now I know there are many, many people in my church family who pray for me often. But occasionally it strikes me, without any feelings of malice or contempt, that people really don’t ask me anymore how I’m doing? They may say it in passing because that’s what you ask people, but I never get the impression or feeling that they really want to take the time to stand there and have me tell them exactly how I’m feeling. I get that it makes people uncomfortable, which is why I’m grateful for my grief support group.
I found this picture last night and it completely summed up what I’ve felt now for a while. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.