I know there are some people who wonder how I can put one step in front of another after my son Charles’s suicide. I’m not sure how I have managed that either.
Others (I’ve heard second hand) think I just need to quit harping on the “depressing” subjects I speak about and my life would greatly improve. They think if I’d just leave all that behind I’d be skipping through a meadow singing show tunes with daisies and muffins in a basket.
Some think sadness is the stinker I need to lose. But I know denying it would only make me more miserable. That I learned right away.
Talking about it, writing about it, speaking on stages and on virtual platforms has helped me heal. It’s helped me learn to walk beside it. It has actually made me laugh. More importantly, it has driven me to save lives.
Obsessive immersion in a subject as intense as suicide is not a prescription for everyone. But it is for me.
Back when my sadness was still raw and the edges of that hurt were razor-sharp, there were moments so beautiful, my heart would swell with love.
That sadness has changed and evolved.
Life is like that.
The episodes of sadness do return but without the teeth and vengeance it once had. Time has removed the fangs.
If I think you are the type who will just try to fix it, I will deny you access to my period of sadness, greedily keeping it to myself. Because I feel you don’t see the value in how it can deepen a bond of friendship, and enrich life.
If, however, you are someone who listens, I will share. And that’s my gift to you that says, “I trust you.”
My sadness fuels my passion. Because when I emerge from it, say after a birthday or death anniversary, I come up ready to breathe life again because I’m buoyed by having spent time with memories of my son, and am re-energized. It’s a sort of emotional time-out that way.
Once I met sadness so profound it rearranged my life and perception of life, I whittled it down to focus on what and whom I really cared about.
Losing what’s most precious to you will do that.
At first, it was unbearable, agonizing, impossible, tragic, painful, unbelievably hard, and gut-wrenching. It took up a lot of my available emotional space for years and it did not kill me. Sometimes I thought it would.
At times, I didn’t want to wake up although I didn’t want to die either. I wanted to live but I wanted to fast forward through all the sadness and get to the part that didn’t hurt so much. The funny thing is I would not have found joy again without it.
Sadness hasn’t made my life unlivable. It has enriched it.