Be Me for a Minute

I’m astounded lately by the total lack of empathy, charity and basic human compassion some people exhibit toward those of us struggling with traumatic grief. I’ve been accused of trying to “own” the grief over Mike’s loss, as if by talking about my grief process I’m somehow depriving others of their own grief. In my suicide survivors support group, widows talk about their husband’s families blaming them or being told by impatient relatives to “get over it already” when it’s only been a few months. How can people have so little compassion? Because they’ve never stood in our shoes.

So, I challenge you… Be me for one minute. For just sixty seconds, try to imagine what it’s like to get a phone call from the sheriff’s office that changes your entire world in an instant… to rush to the ER and find the only man you ever loved comatose on a table, to hear the doctor say there’s nothing they can do, that it’s only a matter of time. Imagine going home and finding a pool of your husband’s blood on the floor, scraps of his clothing that the paramedics cut off him, the bullet casing from the self-inflicted gunshot wound that ended his life. Imagine the guilt you feel when the sheriff asks you, “Did you know he owned a gun?”

Or imagine being the woman who watched her husband take a dive off the balcony of their 22nd floor apartment, who saw his body smashed on the ground far below. Or one of several mothers in my group who found their children’s lifeless bodies.

Be us for just one minute.

Imagine living with this loss day after day. It’s the first thing you’re aware of when you wake up in the morning, the last thing on your mind when you finally fall asleep exhausted. It drags you down all day, threatens to pull you under in a whirlpool of grief and despair. We all deal with it differently. Some of us return to work within a few weeks, manage to get up every day no matter how bad we feel because there are bills to pay or children to care for. Some of us are still not sleeping, barely able to keep food down, unable to think clearly a few months after the suicide. Some of us can’t close our eyes, not once, without seeing the awful image of our loved ones as we last saw them, dead by their own hands.

You may think you know what this grief is like, because you lost a grandparent or a parent or maybe even a spouse to illness or accident. I promise you, unless you are a survivor of suicide, you do not know. And I wouldn’t wish that knowledge on my worst enemy.

We know you don’t understand. We know you CAN’T. We get how awful this situation is for you to even contemplate, that the very thought of standing in our shoes can cause you to retreat from us in fear. We’re not expecting you to understand. All we ask is that you allow us to experience our grief in our own way, on our own timeline. All we ask is that you not make this any harder on us than it already is.

If you can walk beside us on this journey, hold our hands, pick us up when we stumble… You are our angels in human form and we love you.


~ by hourbeforedawn on February 22, 2011.

15 Responses to “Be Me for a Minute”

  1. Lira, I pray that I will never, ever know how it feels to walk in your shoes. My heart goes out to you and I hope that one day you will make it past the horrific pain to a place where your memories comfort you.

    Big love to you.

  2. (((((((Lira))))) You are so totally seen, and while I don’t understand….I offer you complete compassion and unlimited grace ❤

  3. I can’t imagine…and hope & pray that I never have to experience this. My heart goes out to you…and I wish that an overwhelming peace could be yours. I’m sorry that others ‘think’ they have the answer when they have not an ounce of understanding. Sending you BIG love ~

  4. lira, i can’t even imagine what that feels like, and i hope i never have to know this feeling first hand.

    i feel for YOU, and what you are going through and what you will always go through.

    i think of you often lira, know that you are in my thoughts

  5. What you just described was the topic of discussion this evening at our grief session. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, children, all together in varied sections of society have left behind the disbelief that such a thing could happen to our loved ones. It appears that no one can possibly understand our grief. The only relief for us is the other people in the room who have survived a suicide. We had new people in the room this evening which is not uncommon. A remark was made that our group is their salvation, it reflects our normal, our understanding, our healing. Gerry and I pray for your continued recovery.
    Love, Mom and Dad Curry

    • Dad, you’ll never know how much your support means to me. You and Gerry-Mom are in my thoughts (and in my heart) daily, and I pray that you find healing too. Love you.

  6. sweetie…say it!!! Say it loud and speak your truth!!! Bravo! I am in awe that your words are so beautiful and true. while I don’t know the grief you speak of, I deal with my own grief. And so many times I have just wanted to say what you have said to others. In my own grief journey, I have learned a key thing – our modern culture does not like grief in any way, shape or form. To feel something so intense is hard.Yet there is something so primal in that wailing that the heart wants to do. So my sister, I say wail and those that are uncomfortable with it, well look in the mirror and be real for a minute and feel something.

  7. Sending you love…

  8. I do walk beside you, if I were closer I would hold your hand and pick you up when you stumble, but I am a world awsay and I never feel the words I have to offer are adequate, but Lirababe…my thoughts and my heart are with you…always have been. I am so sorry you have suffered unneccesary hurt from others, that makes me mad, and sad. I know it seems ‘not real’ when we are oceans apart, but you are so loved, so very held, by so many around the world, and I am proud to be one of them.

    Love Nixie

  9. ((((hugging you))))

  10. I’m stunned that people would act that way. Even I can’t imagine myself in the situation you describe; I can only say we’re sharing our experiences of grief, of what it is to lose our soulmate. I’m so incredibly grateful to you for the kind words and support you’ve offered me when I would understand you wanting to focus on yourself, your grief and your love.

    Thinking of you.

  11. lira, i think of you often and pray the pain eases although i know it will never go away. i don’t know how anyone could accuse you of anything…there is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. as usual your way with words rings true. you still hold the love in place that you had with mike, and i hope he and everyone else knows that. let the rest (meaning other peoples negative p–p) fall away.

  12. Lira..i get it..i really do…and im sorry u get it too..There are things that ppl just will never get. Sending u all the strength and courage u need to keep getting up and going on(((((you)))))

  13. Hear, hear…

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