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.