Tuesday was bittersweet for my oldest child. It was her birthday and also marked 5 months since she lost her dear friend, Cody. We actually talked about this birthday back in September. A time when she couldn’t imagine surviving the next 5 months – or that her birthday would coincide with such an anniversary. But that is what time does. It marches on.
Sometimes time is a pitfall. When you are hurting and healing it seems like a promise. We expect so much of it. Like it’s somehow the magic cure-all for the ache of missing someone you love. But in reality it is only a form of measurement. The truth is, sometimes 5 months can seem like 5 minutes. It just takes one thing to bring you right back.
I have spent time reading books on grief – and especially grief as it pertains to suicide. This type of loss takes a more traumatic toll on survivors than a death due to accident, disease, old age. It elicits intense questioning in everything around us. It makes no sense no matter how we try to make it. Yet, we continue trying. It’s impossible not to scrutinize every surrounding event or what we could have done differently. I watched my own daughter struggle to make sense of Cody’s death – what she could have done better/differently – as she struggled for peace these past 5 months. There has been constant reassuring that she did all she could…
An important thing I learned during this experience is that time IS the journey – and it is full of pitfalls. I want Cody’s friends to know that it’s only been 5 months. They are still healing and their lingering pain and sadness is completely acceptable. Maybe some will always be healing – and that’s okay. I want them to know that it is normal to experience setbacks. There is nothing linear to healing. Everyone’s pace is different, as is everyone’s sadness. Every minute, day, month is a new experience to add to the journey. It is absolutely normal to feel depressed one month even if the prior month you did not. You may step forward and then leap back. It’s all part of time’s journey when you lose someone you love.
Last week 25 years felt like 5 minutes to me. I reconnected with my high school best friend recently. Someone with whom I shared many important life experiences. Last week marked the 25th anniversary of her father’s sudden death. We were 15. Remembering a date on my calendar shot me back 25 years in time. I remembered each moment vividly. I clearly remembered her pain – how it was always there. I sent her a message last week letting her know I remembered the date. I told her I wished I had been more mature, a better friend, let her just talk more. Time had taught me things I wish I’d known back then. One thing I learned by telling her I remembered? That it always matters – no matter how much time has passed.
An anonymous reader left me this comment to my October 7th story on grief and healing. I think of it often as it touched me deeply….
“Grief is not a one-way process… it comes in waves… or spirals. The stages are not neatly linear. Every marked moment that is experienced without someone we love brings the loss to light again (the Spanish class, a birthday, a play). Most research says one year to mark all the significant anniversaries. But even if the shock of the loss diminishes as years go by… the loss never goes away. Yes… Cody’s friends and family will take small steps forward when they know they can… they will also fall back as they need to. And it is important that they are not alone on this road.”
Dedicated to my daughter and her good friends. I am always here, Annie. Also dedicated to a wonderful new friend and her entire family. May you all find some peace. Always in my thoughts.