White and pink peony photographed for My Forever Son, Suicide Grief: Prolonged Grief Disorder? and Living Backwards After Suicide Loss: Would've, Could've, Should've
White and Pink Peony, My Forever Son

Originally Published in 2015: My Forever Son, My Beloved Dylan: The Unwanted Effect of Living Backwards After Suicide

A Poem Of Regret After Suicide Loss: That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back

That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back

That all of love could sweep time back
To bring back you again.

Beth Brown, That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back
That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back  

Should've, would've, could've, 
If I'd only come to see, 
That might I future forward live
To see all eternity.

That I might know when and where somehow, 
And here and now then see,
To erase the dark and stay the day
To bring back you to me.

If only and what if now child,
And why couldn't I just see,
To hold you close forever
Rewind time, just you and me.

That darkness might not permeate
My heart now--and yours then,
That all of love could sweep time back
To bring back you again. 

©Beth Brown, 2021
That All of Time Could Sweep Love Back

Regret After Suicide Loss

Stuck in Surreal Space

In the strangest of ways, it is always June 25th, 2012. Or sometime before that.

All the way back to March 1992 and up to June 2012. I suppose to some effect, my life is lived backwards. And I am in this surreal space of not yet knowing who I am without Dylan and yet finding myself three years into this journey of being here–as is, as now.

Sometimes, I feel like a character in a book where I’m moving, breathing, responding, doing things according to a chapter, genre, and story I didn’t choose. One I would never even read, let alone choose to live in.

I am no longer who I was before losing Dylan. I lost who I was when my son died by suicide. And yet at 3 years out from his memorial date, 3 years out of a grief so dark I wasn’t sure I would live to tell, I am finding slivers of what I used to do, who I used to be.

I find this search for my identity overwhelming as the mother of a 20-year-old son who died by suicide. 18-24 year-olds search for their identity. My son should be searching for his identity. I should be advancing forward in my life, residing in a stable place where I know who and what I am.

Suicide Changes Everything

How do I go on? Who am I now that I am without my son? Dylan will never age forward past 20. (19 years old plus 3 months.) Still so much a teenager. Still growing. Changing. Learning. Living.

Dylan was a constant part of my life. I feel his absence. All of my life as I knew it has been stripped away. What do I do now? Somehow, I am still here, living forward but remembering backwards.

I just want my life back. My cobalt blue and school-bus yellow painted kitchen. Pizza night where his friends would come over, play video games, and crash in the living room. Hearing Dylan play piano. Listening to his band rehearse downstairs (bi-level house) while I cooked dinner upstairs.

At 3 years out from his memorial date, I now have passages of time where I can rest easy, relax into my friends’ and family’s company, just be here now and completely in the moment. Watch a movie until the end. Read more than just a few pages of a book. Just focus on steeping Irish Breakfast tea in my dragonfly mug.

Blue Stoneware Dragonfly Mug with a Dragonfly Journal and a Spider Plant in the Background, My Forever Son, That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back poem
Dragonfly mug and journal, My Forever Son

Regret After Suicide Loss

Reliving that Day

I say this, and yet still sometimes my days echo nothing but the reliving the day of Dylan’s death. On these days, I awaken deeply disturbed, oftentimes in tears.

I don’t want to get up on these days. I just lie there in bed, turn sideways, bury my head and face deeply into my pillow and just let the tears come. Anymore, they’re oftentimes quiet, whimpering sobs, quiet, resolved tears. Tears that reflect the cold truth that Dylan died. But tears still–and always–that pour forth the depths of my love for my son.

Thank God it isn’t always like this every day. When Dylan died by suicide 3 years ago, it was like this every day. My days were drowned in sorrow. Constant sorrow.

Pale Purple Phlox in Spring Bloom, My Forever Son, A Poem-That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back
Pale purple phlox in spring bloom, My Forever Son

I never found relief until falling asleep, and then I would dream about Dylan, his beautiful face, my boy through the years, seemingly normal, then the abrupt interruption mid-dream of the horrific reality that he was either (1) going to die, upon which I awaken abruptly, startled, terrified, coming to, and in a millisecond, realize Oh My God! Dylan is dead. Or (2) that Dylan is dead, in which case I awaken horrified, sleepless, sad, and desperate.

Sometimes now I have a third version of this dream: I dream Dylan is in danger. My heart quickens. Fear rises. I scream “DYLAN!” and it’s always, always too late. Dylan dies because I couldn’t save him.

“Your beat of heart hers
now her own to live on,
sick pulse of ache
holding death in her arms.”

Beth Brown, “If Only a Mother’s Love Could Have Saved You,” My Forever Son

That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back

Memorial Date, Year 3

It is June, a perilous month for me. On June 25th, it will be 3 years since Dylan died, and for the past 2 years, I’ve not even wanted to live to see June come. How to begin to explain the heartbreak, the heart shattering, the draining of my lifeblood, bones, body, mind, my everything, in the wake of losing my only child, Dylan. Some people have said this to me, “there are no words.” They are right–there are no words, only keening, agonizing brutal tidal-wave emotional upheaval, and  hellish days and nights.

And so it is June 9th, and I am still standing. Moving, actually, moving. Staying busy. Connected. Reaching out to others. Calling friends intentionally to talk about their lives and interests, sometimes mentioning where I am. Calling a few close friends/family who have endured my acute grief and still stand by my side, knowing that while things appear “better,” more peaceful, perhaps, that this is a nightmarish month for me and that echoes of Dylan’s death are easily triggered.

black and white photograph of Dylan Brown, 18 years old, staring into the camera with a graffiti background, My Forever Son, Regret After Suicide Loss, That All of Love Could Sweep Time Back
Dylan, My Forever Son

Support Groups

Tonight I am headed to a support group for bereaved parents. It took me almost three years of grieving to find them, but I discovered them last month because I was reading a library book about losing a child and The Compassionate Friends (TCF) was mentioned
by the author as a resource for bereaved parents.

And tonight I will take Dylan’s picture to my bereaved parents group and two huge half-sheet pans full of decadent chocolate brownies to share. I like that we do this as a way of remembering our children at the TCF meetings. And I will say a few words about my son.

You’d think this be easy, as these days, his memories of his growing-up-years come pouring forth regularly. But even when there is joy in the remembering, there is the insidious sad, sad ache of knowing everything I say about Dylan will evoke a sense of the bittersweet.

Help, Hope, Healing After Suicide Loss

Memorial Date: June 25th

And it is June, and the 25th is coming. His memorial day. A day I wish had never happened in a month I’m not sure I’ll ever sit easy with again. I want so much to share current photos of Dylan, to talk about his having graduated from college, digital media degree in hand, his having landed a first career job. I want to share pictures of possibility, of hope, of a future, his and mine, filled with infinite dreaming and Hallmark cards clicking off the seasons, rites of passage, and years: birthdays, Christmas, celebrations, congratulations.

I want a normal life, or at least one that resembles so many others’ lives. I want to post pictures on Facebook of my son, I want to tell my friends excitedly, “Dylan’s coming home for Christmas!” I want, I ache, I need.

But truth be told, this is my normal now. I am Beth, Dylan’s Mom, and my son died by suicide only three months after he had turned 20 years old. My life has changed, who I am has changed, but my love for Dylan only deepens. I miss him more with each day that passes.

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