Owning My Grief

After contemplating my last post, and the many responses to it, I want to clarify one point. When I said that you can’t know what the grief of a suicide survivor is like, even if you have lost a loved one to illness or accident, I did not intend to in any way diminish the grief that every widow suffers, that every parent suffers who has lost a child. I didn’t mean to suggest that my grief “trumps” yours. It’s simply not comparable. The suicide of a loved one creates an extra set of issues for those left behind, ask any mental health professional who works with suicide survivors. We struggle more with guilt and are more apt to blame ourselves for the death. We also may have intense abandonment issues because our loved one made a CHOICE to leave us. But that doesn’t mean that a widow who lost her/his spouse to cancer or in a car accident isn’t suffering grief nearly beyond imagining, nor that they can’t empathize with my pain. I sincerely apologize if it came across that way.

It’s been suggested that my blog is too self-focused, that I’m “forgetting” that Mike also left behind children, parents, and other family members and friends who loved him and who also grieve his loss. I’ve been careful about mentioning any of these other people in this blog, except briefly in relation to my own experiences, for a simple reason. Their grief is their own, to keep private or to share as they choose. I know some of what Mike’s parents have gone through, because we talk regularly and they have shared their feelings and experiences with me, but I know I can’t even begin to understand the special grief of a parent who has lost a child. Similarly, though I know my own grief over my father’s death, he was 82 when I lost him and had been in poor health for some time. I know that loss doesn’t even come close to the traumatic grief of a teenager who has lost her/his father to suicide. I would never presume to say that I understand. Each person’s experience of grief is unique and personal. Each of us deals with it in our own way, the best way we know how. It’s nobody else’s business.

My own grief is the only grief I have the authority to speak of here. I own my grief: it is mine. No one can carry it for me, or tell me how best to cope with it. I have to walk my own path and find my own way through this darkness. It is my story, to keep private or to share as I choose. Some things I choose to keep private. Much of it I share here, because it helps to be heard and because my words, my experiences may be of some small comfort to others who are traveling this hard and painful road.

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~ by hourbeforedawn on February 23, 2011.

12 Responses to “Owning My Grief”

  1. Sending you love and light…

  2. *holding your hand*

  3. Dear Lira – I certainly interpreted your previous post in the way you intended, not in the way you fear. I hope that was apparent in my comment.

    On the subject of guilt & self-blame; as you know, I blame myself for not making my husband see a doctor earlier, and for not being able to keep him well, and that’s an issue I’m slowly coming to terms with. On first reading your blog, I felt very strongly that your partner didn’t choose to leave you any more than mine did. Illness took them from us, illnesses our loves didn’t ask for or want, illnesses we couldn’t save them from no matter how much we loved them and needed them. I felt that because it was clear from your blogs and the photos of you together that the love you shared was as strong, deep and unconditional as the love I shared with my husband. As you say, our situations may be different, but our grief is as terrible.

    Thinking of you.

    • Wow, thanks for your perspective about the whole guilt/blame thing. Yes, depression is an illness that kills as surely as cancer does. I’ve asked myself a hundred times, what if I’d pushed him to stay in therapy? Should I have fought him on stepping down off the meds? In the end, though, I know there was nothing I could have done. If I’d been a nag, it only would have caused stress in our relationship and poisoned the time I had with him.

      • The big ‘What if…’ that looms over our head and keeps us thinking about what might have been. If only, perhaps. But there is no way of knowing, is there? You choose a way of dealing with their depression and you cling to the hope that you might save him that way. And suddenly you are an SOS and your how just wasn’t good enough.I know it’s useless, but I can’t stop thinking: what if…

        You own your grief. It is the only grief you are capable of knowing and writing about.

  4. Hey, here’s a newsflash for the pitiful, hate-full people who would use this forum to attempt to invalidate you, your position as Mike’s wife, your pain, and your life.

    Of course it’s fucking about you!!! It’s YOUR blog. If they’re so beside themselves with grief and anguish, then they can start their own blogs and write their own pain. This place, this little corner of the Internet universe belongs to you. We are merely visitors, witnesses to your journey. We have been given a gift to be able to look upon these deeply personal moments that you share. We are not required to be here, reading. Any person who opens this blog page does so of their own volition.

    I would submit that anyone so threatened by the words you write in the space that they feel compelled to spit bile and hatred at you is a sad person who is too terrified to confront the demons that live inside them.

    You might seem to be an easy target to those who feel the need to tear another person down in order to build themselves up, but a wise friend of mine once said that they have not yet invented the thing that can break you. Clearly, as evidenced by some of the responses you have received here, someone’s mother did not ever take the time to teach her/him that it is not necessary to put out another person’s light in order for their own to shine.

    How sad for them.

  5. thank you for being so honest with your feelings here. i’m glad you’re not letting anyone else tell you how to feel or what to write. i know you probably feel pressure from a few sides about how you’re expressing your grief, but let those people surf to another page if they don’t like what they’re seeing.

    i think your blog could be of help to a lot of people. not just suicide survivors, but anyone dealing with grief. i hope you’ll continue to be so open here. it’s really a revelation.

    thank you.

  6. Amen to all who responded to Lira’s messages! There is nothing on this Earth that any of us would not have done in order to save our loved ones, no matter what the cause of their passing.

  7. Wow – I’m amazed at how things get stirred up in people. Amen to what all has been said – cheers to John, Daisy & ‘cancerwidow’ – I second them whole-heartedly. I LOVE hearing what you have to say, Lira – no matter what it is…keep hanging tough. As I’ve worked my way through my own grief – I second what you say about each grief being deeply personal and individual. I also support what you say about the unique complexities of suicide, especially for a surviving partner. You have compelling things to share, my dear – keep it up!

  8. Sister, I come here to stand with you as you speak your Truth! Let NO one else dim your Light as you walk through the Darkness!

    Blessed Be,
    VSD

  9. I hear you. I see you. I appreciate you. I did not take your last post as anything other than what your intentions for it was. Your strength amazes me.

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