Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Job - New People: The Question

After Josh had been gone a little over 18 months, I wrote a post on "The Question."

Over two years later, I am still struggling with this.  I started a new job two weeks ago where no one knew about Josh, his death, his suicide.  I am reluctant to share about what happened for fear of instant judgement.  If they knew I had a son who chose to end his life, would they view me differently?  And is there a part of me that likes to be with people who have no idea?  With whom I can pretend that "it" didn't happen?  That I am just like them - raising kids the best way we can?

Last week, while at the regional office, I was asked to fill out a contact sheet with the names of my spouse and children.  Immediately, my mind began racing - what do I do?  What do I write down?  Do I write Josh's name with a (D) for deceased or (3-18-09)?  I know what that means but would others?

After sitting for a few minutes, pen poised above the paper, I did what felt right at the time and put down Tyler, Lauren and Gillian.  After turning it in, I was filled with doubt and even worse - guilt.  Now, when my new colleagues see it, they will think I only have three children.   Am I deceiving them?  Am I taking the easy way out?  Am I betraying Josh's memory?  Or is it okay that I know the truth and that I am sparing them the awkwardness of a very sad and tragic story in which there is nothing to say?  If Josh could see what I did, how would he feel?  I still don't know if I did the right thing.

I made another trip to the office this week and while in the car going back to the airport with a colleague and the CEO of the company, he asked me point blank, "How many children do you have?"  This specific question has only one answer - four.  I said, "That's a hard question" then realized how stupid that sounded.  It is not a hard question at all.  It is simply a number.  I quickly said, "Three surviving and one who has died."  I then talked about T, L and G.  There were no follow-up questions.  It was awkward.  As I look back on it, I am not sure they heard, but of course they did.  Now it's out there.  But I realized something - that in the general course of the day, people do not want to hear about death.  I got out of the car and wondered if I should've said something different....but what?

So I am damned if I do and damned if I don't.   This bothers me.  I am even a little mad at Josh for putting me in the situation where I feel guilty either way.

But I want to be fair to myself.  I want people to get to know me before knowing what happened to  Josh.  This shows me that the stigma of suicide is alive and well.  I don't know how people will react.  I don't have complete trust in their reaction.  I need to get to know them before imparting or sharing about my beloved Josh. His life and my memory of him is a precious treasure that I cannot entrust to just anyone.  I need to get to know them - are they worthy of this knowledge?  With they hold it in confidence or go blabbing as a juicy piece of gossip?

So now I've gone from feeling like I have something shameful to hide to feeling protective of Josh.  Only the most empathetic, kind-hearted soul will learn of him.  Only those who have suffered loss and are hurting - those whom my story may help will learn of him.  This is how I feel now.

Through my writing, I see how fragile I still am.  How wounded.  Sore.  Thin-skinned.  Vulnerable. How easily, so easily the tears can flow.  How crushing the loss still feels - as if he died recently instead of over two years ago.

RIP beloved son.  You are still missed so very, very much.


carlalaura said...

Sue - this post is so useful to read & ponder, and so amazingly relevant and timely. You may not know that Clay and I will be moving to CO on August 1st. Clay will start 9th grade at Boulder High School on 8/15 ... And I accepted a new job in Loveland CO which is about a 35-40 minute drive from Boulder, where my sister and her family live. I'm sure it's obvious to you that I am struggling with many similar issues - for me, and for Clay, as we make new friends and at a new job. Sure hope we can still meet in person. We'll have a lot of room for guests in Boulder in the place we're renting. Do you guys ski? Come visit!! Carla xox
Carla xox
Many stresses - big one is that so far I haven't been able to sell or sublet our beautiful 3 BR NYC coop. Oy.

Josh's mom said...

Good luck on your move and entering a new chapter in your lives. Let me know how you deal with "the question" at your new job and as you meet new friends.


Mandysue said...

It's like you write directly from my life. The question of how many children and the ages and so on hurts every time. Good Luck

<3 Joshua's Mom

sam said...

Unfortunately Amanda I think this may be something you will always struggle with. I hate to say it but when you loose someone so tragically as you have its not something you can just "get over" and move on with your life. He was so young and he was your son. I can only imagine the pain you are going through. I actually just talked to my grandmother about my grandfathers death and how I haven't even come close to dealing with it or "moving on". She said its time to do that. Honestly I don't even know where to begin. It still hurts, its still a fresh wound for me. Just like Josh is for you. Its almost like a surgical wound that if the right thing is said and it happens to trip a memory it rips that wound open. And it hurts like hell. I understand your pain "Josh's Mom" and I feel for you.
I would write his name. He is your son afterall. He didn't stop being your son just because he passed on. If they ask give them a simple explaination. There was an unfortunate accident and he did not survive. But I am still his mom. That way maybe it won't hurt you as badly, and it won't be putting all of your "dirty laundry" so to speak out there. Hope that helps. ((hugs))

Suzanne said...

Your post is so real, I can relate so much to your grief. I was an innocent by-standard and witnessed the suicide of my friend, along with her children. I had so many losses in such a short time. My grief changed the pattern of my personal, professional and private life. It changed and I had to adjust to it and keep going. Do the best you can do and let the rest just stay where it is. I'm sorry for your loss. You are doing the best you can. Love your writing. Thank you