There was absolutely no warning for those whose loved ones died on this day. They kissed their spouses, children and friends good-bye as they boarded planes or went to work. Little did they know that within moments, their lives would be changed forever.
I have a greater understanding of what these survivors must have felt as my world has been been changed forever too, but in a different way - by suicide.
In their book called Aftershock: Help, Hope and Healing in the Wake of Suicide by David Cox and Candy Arrington, suicide is likened to an earthquake. I find it an appropriate analogy as while earthquakes might give off some warning signals, they are often so unexpected that no one is prepared for the utter devastation and chaos that occurs. Cox begins the book with his own experience - his father took his life when he was 9 years old. He was the last family member to see his dad alive.
On July 17, 1967, an earthquake rocked my world. Felt by relatively few people, it devastated those in its epicenter and brought chaos to our lives. Although not a dynamic force of nature, the event shook my universe, crumbled my stable foundation, and sent shockwaves far into the future. It was suicide.
I can relate to the author's description of the overwhelming devastation that the immediate family suffers as the "epicenter" of the "suicidequake". And just as an earthquake can be felt for miles around, so the effects of Josh's suicide have radiated far beyond our family.
Next Friday will be six months since he has been gone. It is hard to believe almost half a year or two seasons has passed. On the one hand, it seems like yesterday and I am still raw with grief. On the other hand, as I think back to everything that has occurred, I feel detached, as though I see snapshots of someone else's life, their tragedy, their loss, their heartache and sorrow.
Maybe it is my mind and heart's way of protecting myself for if I could feel the brunt of Josh's death, even 6 months later, I don't think I could handle it. The pain would be too much for this poor mother's soul to bear. When I do recognize that it has happened to me, I feel sorry for myself - which is a new feeling. But how can I not? I am living every mother's worst nightmare and the horrible thing is that I can't wake up. It won't go away. Josh really did take his life - for reasons I still cannot fathom, but need to accept.
Sometimes, I wish I could move faster through this "grief journey" and get to the other side which I hear is acceptance and peace. This seems so far away to me - a distant shore that I am struggling to reach. I am realizing from my reading that I must be patient and while I don't want to be stuck or frozen in grief, I shouldn't rush it either.
The secondary effects of an earthquake are often greater than the actual event: fires from broken gas mains, flooding from ruptured water lines, theft and looting in unprotected areas, and panic and fear as aftershocks continue. In a matter of minutes, everything that is stable and firm is destroyed. Once familiar surroundings, now devastated, are oddly unrecognizable.
Just as earthquake survivors must sift through the debris of their homes and lives, so suicide survivors must deal with the emotional and practical fallout that remains. Life becomes unstable and uncertain. It is possible to rebuild your life following suicide, but it involves hard, painstaking work (83).
I guess this is where we are at. Slowly picking through the debris, trying to get our lives back in order and learning how to live with the vacancy and loss felt from Josh's passing every minute of every day.
Thanks so much to all who continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I am not ashamed to say that we still need them.