Jordan’s Story – Honey and Gold
It’s been just over a year since my sister died. My world has been forever changed. I have experienced emotions and thoughts I never thought I would. I couldn’t even put into words until now all the thoughts that swirl though my mind. I am still amazed at what angles and thoughts my mind can cover in just a split second, let alone a year. And even now, the words are all there but they’re just jumbled up and messy.
Because ultimately, suicide doesn’t make sense.
Most of the time it still feels surreal. Like she is going to be at our next family gathering. That she’s just been working a lot so that’s why we haven’t seen her in a while. I wonder if this feeling will ever go away. I wonder if I will ever grasp the finality of it.
We were never created for death. Is this why it is so hard?
I find myself going back to the significant events where the surrealness parted and it felt ever so real. I re-live the phone call. The coming together as family. Seeing my parents cry. The visitors, the viewing, the funeral, seeing the hearse drive away. The grave. The last time we will all be together on this earth.
I fight hard to keep these visuals alive in my mind in a sadistic kind of way. I think it’s because it’s in these ugly, awful moments, it felt all too real. It’s final. I remember once again that she is gone. It is true. She chose to take her own life. I feel sick at the thought of her actions. I still have no answers.
That is one of the injustices of suicide. The victim is free from the torment, but it just gets passed on to everyone else around them. It’s unfair. It makes me angry sometimes; that my content & happy existence has been shattered, that I have experienced a whole lot of crap because of someone else’s actions. I feel angry that there will always be hole in our family.
And then I feel compassion. I can’t imagine how it must feel to reach the point where ending your own life feels like the only option. That things can feel so bleak and helpless that you plan and work towards ending your own life, that the cloud of depression can literally suck the life right out of you.
I now know that depression can be as terminal as cancer.
I wish I didn’t know this. I wish with all my heart that my sister was still here, that I never had to walk through any of this muck. Sometimes, I feel guilty. This is messy and I know I am in no way responsible for her actions, but I do wish I pushed my love on her more. When I felt like she didn’t want or need my love, I wish I had pushed through and loved her all the more. That’s my job, I am her big sister.
And then, I feel exhausted. I’m tired of thinking about it all the time. Of having my thoughts default to her when I have those lull’s in my day. In the car or the shower, a memory pops into my head. In the early days, I was physically exhausted from crying. I felt drained all the time. While it was so special that we grieved together as a family, it also meant it was sadness twenty-fold. We had our emotions plus we have the emotions of everyone else. It’s draining. I felt physically sick too. It was interesting to see how my body reacted to this grief in such a physical way. I had really bad stomach pains that were showing up like appendicitis, but tests showed conflicting things. This went on for a couple of weeks before my doctor talked about it maybe being emotional. My body grieving physically.
I have never been so intensely and completely sad.
I sometimes feel like I should be over it by now. Then I wonder if I will ever get over it. These are the contradicting thoughts that constantly swirl. People often talk about the “stages of grief” like it’s an orderly course you can follow and once checked off the list; you’re done with that emotion. You can move on to the next, until you’ve graduated and you are whole & happy once again. Processing done, grief, done. But this year has taught me that grief is messy. You can’t deal with each facet of grief in an orderly fashion. It catches you by surprise. You can feel more than one emotion at a time. You can get stuck in a rut with one, to feel like you conquer it, then find yourself there all over again. It is ugly and dark and it’s not something that will ever go away entirely. It will remain with you in some form forever I’m sure. It just changes.
A few months after Asher died, I was still getting up at nights feeding Lexie who was just a few months old. I remember feeling sheer exhaustion. I was utterly spent. I remember walking in to feed her one particular night, sitting in the dark of her room holding her and the dark familiar fear gripped me again “what if I become depressed?”, “What if I kill myself?”, “What if my children are left without a mother?”, “How would Dave parent these kids on his own?” These words and thoughts now written down in black and white don’t hold much power but in that moment, they were all consuming. This was one of the darkest points in this weird grief process.
There are so many things I don’t know about suicide and grief. I’m no trained expert. But I am now a life expert. And I want to say, firstly, suicide is never the answer. If you are clouded by depression. Please, get some help. Take meds, talk about it, pray. You don’t have to feel that way. It’s not the answer.
It’s never the answer.
It’s interesting, but over the past year, I have probably spent the least amount of time in quiet devotions with God (something I usually love). In the deep sadness, it was hard to concentrate, to fit more into my full and sad brain. Even something as good as spending time reading God’s word took a back seat, everything kind of took a back seat. Work. Kids. Husband. Friends. Utter honesty there, but everything came second to the grief and thoughts. Yes, even God.
Despite that, I have never felt more ‘held’ by Him. Knowing he was there. I could just let go of what I ‘should’ be doing in my Christian life, and just rest in knowing what I already knew about Him. Knowing the truths from my childhood and years of devotions and Bible studies.
This is why I am so passionate about God’s word. We really do need to store up truths so that when the battle comes (and they will!), it’s already there. We know it. We don’t have to get new information to fight, we just have to reach down to our toolbox and pull out a truth that we can use to combat the darkness. Some light to shine as we shuffle ahead. We don’t have time in the battle to learn new techniques and habits. We can, of course, it’s never ever too late to start, but it’s so much easier to do this in the peace.
I love this quote from the navy seals – “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” If we invest time in God’s word, in Christian community, in others during the mountain tops, or even the plateau’s of life. Then we are so much better equipped for the valleys. When war wages, we have all we need to face it.
I want to leave you with the hope that intense grief does pass. I will always remember my sister. Always. It’s silly to think that someone who is a part of your story for thirty odd years would ever be forgotten. We should never expect people to ‘get over it’. But the thick cloud of grief does get a bit thinner with time. It does allow some light and sunshine through again. I never thought I would say that. Honestly. I couldn’t see past the thick grief. I couldn’t plan for the future. I didn’t think there really was a long term one. But in the past few weeks in particular, I can feel the season changing. And it brings me so much hope.
I have Hope.