Experiences of Traumatic Loss - Shock
I was thinking the title of this post should be Tragic loss, shock as your new companion. The reality for many of us is that shock becomes a regular companion after a tragedy. You learn to travel with it.
It stays. It lingers. And it resurfaces.
There are mornings where I still wake up and my first thought is “oh my god, he’s gone”. And I have to sit there for a minute reabsorbing the catastrophic nature of suicide. It’s in those moments when the sun is out, the house is quiet, and things feel calm, that I look over and see his picture and a wave hits me, emerging from the depths of my soul.
And then agony follows. The fact that I will never see him hits. The reminder that our children will never see their father again or have a relationship with him hits. The general miserableness of the whole thing hits. No happy endings here. People will tell you just move on, get over it, they’ll tell you not to live in the past. But in reality, when tragedy hits, often you don’t just move on, and you may not get over it. As for the past, the past is a part of who we are. You don’t have to live in the past to experience it or have it affect you. What they say for suicide loss survivors, is you don’t get over it but have to learn to live with it.
The various experiences of tragic loss - the shock, the questions, the replay, the confusion, the anxiety, the suffering, the anger, and the guilt, are permanently connected and woven together. I feel them carefully weaved into my narrative of living now when I sit with this tragic loss. I know the fabric, the textures, and colors. I recognize the patterns. I have to sit with it because it happened to someone I knew and loved. Someone I was in relationship with. To sit in those memories doesn’t mean I am living in the past, it means I am honoring the person I loved and integrating this tragedy into my present life without them. It is the remembering of someone that was very important to me. This is how the shock has settled itself into my reality. As a filter and a cushion. It is how I have been able to absorb such a major life event, and major separation, by slowly and gently introducing these moments filled with so many questions, images, thoughts, and feelings.
As I move to rewrite our family narrative, I don’t try to rewrite his story, but rather, make sure that the sad ending stops with him. I offer the next generation a different legacy. I introduce choice, hope, and love. I share the power of forgiveness. I express gratitude. And I keep our connection close with my heart open. Always open to my children.
Yes, I still have many unanswered questions. So many unknowns I may never get clarity about. And I’m learning to be ok with that. When the unbearableness burls forward to take over, I temper it and then I release it, along with all of the thoughts and feelings in those moments. I surrender them because after all, they are just moments. One moment falling after another systematically falling through our minds. I surrender to the unknowing, to the choices, to the hurting, and I send those threads up into the universe to be absorbed back into the fold.