***Trigger warning: discussions of suicide, death, grief, strong emotions. Please only read if you feel comfortable doing so. If you are feeling suicidal, please skip to the end of this post and contact the national helpline for immediate assistance. Remember, you are not alone!***
The beginning of October marked the one-year anniversary of losing a loved one of mine to suicide. I took a bit of a break from social media and haven’t shared much here either, as I wanted to take some time to honour their memory and sit with my feelings on my own. It’s hard to believe that it’s really been a year. As difficult and challenging as the past year has been, I thought it would be helpful for me and maybe others to fully reflect on the year and what it’s looked like to grieve, and still be grieving, one year later.
As I remember their passing and how absolutely insane the past year has been, I’m reminded of duality. Initially, I felt guilty because I didn’t really feel that sad at the start of the day, and I was expecting to feel sadder. But as the day went on, it hit me at random moments – feeling the sudden urge to burst into tears when wandering around the market in Seattle, or taking in the views, or feeling the need to do something to remember them by. I decided to get some flowers and toss them in the ocean, which felt like a nice and peaceful moment. Perhaps they are returning to the earth and ocean that we all come from to begin with.
The duality I felt primarily came from my mixed emotions. The anniversary of their passing occurred when I was in Seattle for work. So, even though bits and pieces of me were sad, I also felt joy and excitement about being in a new city and getting to explore all it has to offer. This is where duality comes in: there are multiple parts of us that can hold multiple emotions at once. We don’t have to be one thing or the other. I’m sad and still mourning their death and grieving, AND I’m excited about being in a new city and having the chance to explore. I’m heartbroken over losing them, AND I love those that are still in my life. I struggle with my mental health, AND I’m still able to find many moments of joy and happiness. So I guess the point is, I feel it all at once.
The days surrounding their death were hard. Thinking back to where I was a year ago is even harder. I remember feeling like I was suddenly in a black hole and didn’t know if that would ever go away. Truthfully, I barely remember anything at all during those first couple of months. Gradually, I began to remember again, and get back to myself. Some folks who study grief have described it so well, in that it doesn’t fully go away, but your life grows around your grief. That is exactly how I feel: my life has grown and so many big changes have happened, but it still hurts and it always will – that’s how we know it’s real. I’ve also heard grief described as love that has nowhere to go, and that couldn’t be more true.
When I visited BC again recently, I was able to visit the cemetery and their grave. The grave is covered in grass now instead of the dirt that covered it a year ago. There are lots of flowers and hearts in memory of them. Somehow, time has passed, but it feels so strange and like it shouldn’t be passing without them here. I wish I could feel them nearby but I don’t; perhaps, they are already dancing in the sky. Simultaneously, I know that I don’t necessarily need to be at their grave to feel their presence and remember them. I think they are all around, and I could feel them anywhere.
I always need to remind myself that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Even if I only visit their grave once a year, that’s okay. If I don’t visit at all, that’s okay too. There are other ways to remember them, and for me, one of those ways includes living my own life to the fullest. Another way includes focusing on my mental health, because it truly is one of the most important aspects of our lives. I will always continue to focus on these aspects, that I feel are important to honour their memory. Everyone will have their own experience of grieving and remembering, and it is necessary to honour what feels true for you.
I know that I’ll never be the same because of their passing – but I think that’s okay. Part of me will probably always be grieving, and that’s okay too. It doesn’t just go away after a year, or two, or five. That’s how we know they were special and had a big impact on our lives. Sending so much love to anyone else suffering through grief right now. Know that you are not alone, and however you choose to grieve is the right way for you to do so. <3
***If you are feeling suicidal, please also know that you are not alone, and contact the 24/7 help line for immediate assistance in Canada: 1-833-456-4566****