Red Roses in full bloom with background of stone wall.
Red Roses in Summer

A Glimpse of Hope

Some days, I lift my hands, my arms high, offering my child up to the hope that I will again join him–someday. I dance my prayers, draw with pastels my feelings, watch my “healing,” as best can be, ebb more than it, as in the beginning, really the first 18 months, overwhelm and overtake me. I live more from a place of peace with some acceptance that I will never know the “why” of his suicide. But I also know the triggers still come easily.

My Forever Son

Even when the tidal waves of grief cease, the ebb and flow, the surge and deep darkness that is the ocean, that, alas, is grief, persists. Hope rests in the distance, skyward, arcing, streaming glimpses of what’s yet to come–then, there, at that moment, the final lifting up and breaking free of the weight of carrying the grief of losing a child to suicide.

I came upon the excerpt below in one of my grief support groups for losing a child to suicide.  And while I don’t necessarily agree with everything written here, I do know that when I read through “With Every Goodbye” the first time, something resonated deep within me, the soul and bones and ache of grieving my son these past three, nearly three and one-half years. 

I find in its words the brute truth of life–that life isn’t fair, that loving a child hopelessly doesn’t guarantee freedom from tragedy and death, and that holding onto and keeping sorrow to fill the hole in my soul only makes more pronounced the painful absence of my son. 

Letting Go?

I do not know if I have “let go.” I hold love, and protect love, fiercely, as fiercely now as the mama tiger who raised her infant son to young adulthood. I hold fast good, powerful, albeit  bittersweet, memories. 

I miss everything about my son–his 6’1″ frame, his lanky, strong build,  the smell of his skin (and his “Axe” body spray), his enormous chocolate eyes, the way the corners of his mouth always turned up, nearly always in a smile, and I only now realize, post suicide, that his smile masked his sadness, his sorrow and depression. 

Some days, I lift my hands, my arms high, offering my child up to the hope that I will again join him–someday. I dance my prayers, draw with pastels my feelings, watch my “healing,” as best can be, ebb more than it, as in the beginning, really the first 18 months, overwhelm and overtake me. I live more from a place of peace with some acceptance that I will never know the “why” of his suicide. But I also know the triggers still come easily.

My Forever Son
Tall White Lilies in Mid-Summer
White Lilies in Summer

Early Grief

If you are in early grieving, this excerpt might not stir anything familiar. It takes a long time to even realize it takes a long time to come to terms with what you cannot change. 

Still, I dream of Dylan. Still, I dream I am trying, but can’t, save him. Still, I wake up abruptly and horrifically, drenched in heartbreak and sorrow in realizing that my beautiful son is dead. Still, I dream, though not as often, flashbacks to his death, though now, dream more about who we were, who we are, as mother and son. Still I fight saying “goodbye” to what is and always will be most precious. Always the missing. Always the loving. Always remembering Dylan.

Autumn Joy Sedem is in full pink bloom during the summer months. Close up Photograph
Autumn Joy Sedem in Pink Bloom in Summer

“With Every Goodbye”

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaving
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans,
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure,
you really are strong,
you really do have worth.
And you learn
and you learn
With every goodbye, you learn. . . .

Veronica A. Shoffstall

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