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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014 - Five Years and 3 Months Later

Since Josh's death, I've become an avid journaler.  An important part of my self-care is to have a place (my journal) to absorb my feelings - from the mundane to the intense.  These emotions are like colors which range the gamut from subtle, muted and ever-present grey, which to me is the color of grief, to bold, neon, in-your-face and overwhelming.

Sometimes, it helps to have an open-ended question to start a journal entry such as this recent one: Where am I on this grief journey?   I wanted to share the answer on this post.

Well, I am here, meaning still alive.  Tim and I are still together which is worth noting as my suicide survivor books say that a higher than average percent of marriages do not survive the death of a child.   Pictures of Josh still fill our home.  I have no desire to move as memories of various events in our home (except for that awful day) are not painful.  The dogwood sapling planted in his memory in our front yard is growing - strong and healthy.

I think about Josh every day.  It is strange how the deceased occupies the mind more than the living.  I would like to think his soul, or essence or energy survived death and is on the "other side," not bound by space and time.  I hope he is at peace - no longer suffering, although my life-after-death themed books tell that unresolved issues follow our loved ones- i.e. suicide will not make them disappear.

If his actions have resulted in a karmic debt, perhaps we are helping to repay through the good work done in his name (The Josh Anderson Foundation).

This grief journey is greatly influenced by my reading and in more recent months, by Josh as I believe he led me to this book last December:  My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations From the Otherside by Elisa Medhus, MD.  And books beget books as evidenced by what I've read since the beginning of the year (see reading blog for my thoughts on these books):

  • Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian Weiss, MD
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Bridges to Heaven: True Stories of Loved Ones on the Other Side by Sue Frederick
  • On Life After Death by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  • Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
  • Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra
  • Life After Life: The 25th Anniversary of the Classic Bestseller by Raymond Moody, MD
  • Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat by Richard Faulds
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
  • Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life by Brad Willis aka Bhava Ram
  • Power of the Soul: Inside Wisdom for an Outside World by John Holland
Upon reflection, my daughter Lauren, has also shaped this journey.  Since Josh's death, she has been diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which manifests itself as anxiety and depression.  Thankfully, she is very open about her struggles and actively pursues healing and recovery.  She has found excellent therapists and convinced of its benefits to mind and body, has become a yoga practitioner and teacher.   She has encouraged me to attend classes at a nearby yoga studio and has wanted me to join her at Tara Brach's weekly meditation classes in Bethesda, MD.

At first, I was skeptical and reluctant but am now a full-blown believer.  I suppose it started when I accompanied her to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in April where we attended the Yoga In Schools Symposium.  To be in the midst of so many like-minded people dedicated to this ancient healing practice and wanting to bring it into schools to benefit our youth was inspiring.   There is a palatable aura and energy within that place that seeped into my being and has remained ever since.

Because of these influences, my grief journey has turned a significant corner.
  • I take 2 -3 yoga classes a week. On the other days, I practice yoga/meditation on my own.  
  • I've taken a meditation class that met once a week for 8 weeks
  • I've signed up for a 200 hour yoga teacher training to begin in the fall
  • I am much more aware of my breathing during the day.  Taking deeper inhales and exhales, I can't believe how much this small change has helped manage stress during a busy work day. 
  • When I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something, I now know these thoughts are just electrical impulses, nothing more.  With practice, I can release and watch them evaporate like a puff of smoke dissipating in the air and then go back to sleep. 
In retrospect, I see clearly how clueless I was "pre-Josh"….in my own world, detached from the pure consciousness (soul) within.   (And this is despite many years of involvement in a fundamental Christian church which is a whole other story for another time or another blog).  Then after his death, I was consumed with grief, sorrow, pain and guilt, covering my mind, heart and soul like a blanket of fog - thick, dense, grey, impenetrable.

But over the past several months, the fog has slowly lifted.  Because of my reading and daily yoga/meditation practice, I feel awakened and enlightened, knowing I've just started on a lifelong journey of spiritual discovery and experience.

So now I ponder this question:  If Josh had not died, would I be on this path?

Probably not and this is sad to me.   Why did it have to take such a profoundly tragic event to wake me up?  To get my attention?  To make me into a seeker of timeless spiritual truths?  To open my mind to the fact there is much more than this physical world?