Inside: Child loss is excruciating. Letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.
TW: Suicide, grief, child loss
The agony was intense but I knew that something important was happening inside of me. Several times I wondered if I was losing my mind but even in my pain and wrestling it didn’t matter if I was having a nervous breakdown or my experience was psychological or spiritual, I knew I needed to stay present. To live whatever was happening.
On Tuesday, earlier this week, I experienced a profound shift in my grief journey. An unexpected letting go of sorts- not of the beauty of my son’s life or the 23 years we shared together, but of him. For him. For me too.
Child loss is excruciating. Letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.
It was a wild, uncomfortable, beautiful, horrible, necessary experience. It lasted for hours. I talked with my son and felt him with me in my kitchen. I really felt him. The first time I’ve felt him since he left.
And then I told him what I think he needed to hear. And I needed to tell him. And I meant it.
I forgive you.*
I release you, Jairus.
I honour your choice.
I want you to be free.
So go, Jairus, we will be ok.
I wish you peace. I love you.
I will love you forever.
Aug 4, 2000
A NOTE ON FORGIVENESS AFTER SUICIDE/CHILD LOSS: I do NOT blame my beautiful son for his illness, for how he died, or for the reality of being human in a messy world; I don’t blame him for the pain we’ve all walked through both before and after his death (I ask his forgiveness for not knowing how to do more or better to ease his suffering). He didn’t want to hurt me yet I hurt. I have never hurt before like this. So I offer my beautiful boy my forgiveness because whether he truly was here with me in my kitchen and “heard” me or not, I know he needs to hear it and I need to tell him.
It occurred to me that it takes about nine months, 40 weeks, or 280 days to birth new life into this world and it makes sense that it takes at least 9 months to begin the letting go. I imagine that this will be the hardest work of my entire life.
At 288 days since my son left this world, I was ready to release him.
Telling the truth requires incredible strength, resilience, and bravery. Telling the truth hurts. Tell the truth is my mantra for the year.
I realized that the past nine months had been largely about living rooted in the horror, the pain and intense grief, the panic of such a significant, horrible loss and about helping my girls and my husband take one step then another. It was about survival.
But on Tuesday morning, as I sat outside on a worn and weathered Adirondack chair soaking up the August sunshine, I realized I was ready to turn my face and heart forward. To begin looking ahead with hope and curiosity and even joy.
Child loss is excruciating. Surrender or letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.
I knew that my experience wasn’t so much about letting go of what was as it was about telling the truth that I am ready to turn toward what will be. Telling the truth requires incredible strength, resilience, and bravery. Telling the truth hurts.
I have no idea if other parents of child loss and suicide loss in particular experience anything like this. And I certainly don’t think there needs to be one path – I mean, I know there isn’t one path. But I also know that though the grief journey is long and hard and I’ve barely begun the work, something shifted in me earlier this week and I share this to help other grieving parents and to continue removing shame and hiding from the conversations around living with mental illness or suicide loss.
NOW WHAT? Gather and put down deep, strong roots of self-awareness and self-compassion with a group of 50 growth-minded women in the messy middle of life inside the Brave & Beautiful Community. Sign up for the HOPE MAP (see below) to learn when doors open again!