The second coping strategy is “Write”
After Charles died, others didn’t seem to want to talk about him. Or let me talk about him. I kept wondering, “Why can’t I talk about my son?”
So two months after he died, I started writing an article for the newspaper about his death. We had just moved out of the house where he had grown up because it had sold four days before he stunned us by killing himself.
He died June 2015. I started writing August 2015. The first version was sloppy and pointless but I kept writing it, revising it, crying while typing. Pissed off at the world, my face swollen from tears, I wrote the angriest article ever. It would have grabbed you by the throat and spit in your face there was so much mad packed in those words. It was a version you never saw and never will.
When I opened it the next day, I laughed which was a rare event. Those words were on fire. There was no way that version would be published anywhere. It sounded like a self-righteous, angry manifesto. And writing had allowed me to express it and let it go.
I struggled to write well so soon after Charles’ death. Lines of text would run together like melted crayons. But the hurt pushed me to keep going and those voices inside kept telling me to write. The grief had taken me hostage, surrounded me and flattened my spirit. Writing was my way of fighting back. It helped me see and understand, work through my anger, my tears, my hurt. It dragged me through the darkness and back into the light. Then it helped me find the rhythm of grief and recognize it wasn’t my enemy.
I wrote more shitty sentences, pushed myself, went through boxes of kleenex and kept at it. There was no way this exercise was going to defeat me. Silence was supporting suicide. More kids were dying. More were becoming addicted. How could I ignore that?
We moved into our new home in September and I kept writing that same article. The pages didn’t look at me funny, scold, or ridicule me. They didn’t pass judgement but begged me to keep going.
Why would I do something so painful? It didn’t fix what happened or reverse time so what good was it?
It wouldn’t be until December 5 that I felt the article was ready to send. Four months is what it took to write it. While it didn’t publish until February, just finishing it and sending it gave me a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. I was certain no one would read it or care and terrified of their reaction if they did.
People did read it and before it was moved online, it had thousands of comments from others reading their story in mine.
Holidays and life events were especially difficult. So I wrote more, not less. The more I hurt, the more it called me. It was my personal choice to write in public and that part isn’t a must. Writing for yourself works, too.
Writing gave me the gift of healing. I hope you give it a try.