Grieving doesn’t end the second the casket door closes for the final time. Grieving doesn’t end when the same casket is lowered into the ground. Grieving doesn’t end with the passage of a few weeks, months, or years. Grieving never really ends. It dissipates. It becomes quiet like a whisper. It then flairs like a wildfire. It is constant and ever-present. It can be talked about, analyzed, and discussed. It can be shared with therapists, family members, and friends. Like the air in your lungs, it is with you until you breathe no more.
It hangs like a shadow and makes life after such a tragic event difficult to reclaim. Yet, we must push forward. In the same manner, as a child learning to walk, we must learn to transport ourselves from one point to another with grieving on our hearts. With a piece of our innocence left in the past, we must learn to write the next chapter. We remind ourselves of what is important. We take care of our own first and let other responsibilities slide. Slowly, we inch back into commitments and work tirelessly toward reconnecting with the broader community. This is easier said and written than done.
When your little brother decides to complete suicide, no one ever looks at you the same way again. The whispers are audible. The glances held a little longer. The words of prayer sting like bees. The truth of the matter is this, grief doesn’t end because well-intentioned people don’t allow it. Of course, you don’t want it to end either. Grief comes with guilt. Trips to the movies, ocean, and across the country fill you with guilt. Guilt for the things he should be doing. Guilt for the things you get to do, and he doesn’t. Grief and guilt go hand-in-hand. Grief and guilt force you to hold onto his memory; a memory you slowly feel fading away.
Grief can define you or you can define it. In this circumstance, it is the ultimate choice to be made. For the most part, I am intensely proud of those around me. They have defined grief and used it to educate and advocate for a more kind, gentle, and understanding world. They have stood at the gap of understanding around mental health and decided to demand more. We do this because no one should ever feel the pain we feel. We wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t know if we believed that before November 3rd, 2014, but we know it now.
Be good to each other,
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