Rain Puddles with Reflection of Trees, photographed for My Forever Son, Quiet Tears at 3 Years
Rain Puddles with Reflections of Trees, My Forever Son

Quiet Tears at 3 Years

Your beat of heart hers
Now her own to live on,
Sick pulse of ache
holding death in her arms.

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

3 Years of Infinite Tears

You are a “survivor of suicide,” and as that unwelcome
designation implies, your survival—your emotional
survival—will depend on how well you learn to cope with
your tragedy. The bad news: Surviving this will be the
second worst experience of your life. The good news:
The worst is already over.

What you’re enduring is one of the most horrific ordeals possible in
human experience. In the weeks and months after a suicide, survivors ride a roller coaster of emotions unlike any other.

Jeffrey Jackson, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide,
American Association of Suicidology

Sometimes my days echo nothing but 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. Quiet tears at 3 years.

Living Backwards Going Forward-Year 3

Will the Pain Ever Go Away?

“How long will it take to get over this?” you may ask yourself. The truth is that you will never “get over” it, but don’t let that thought discourage you. . .Your hope lies in getting through it, putting your loss in its proper perspective, and accepting your life as it now lies before you, forever changed. If you can do that, the peace you seek will follow.

Jeffrey Jackson, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide,
American Association of Suicidology

When Dylan died by suicide 3 years ago, it was like this every day. My days were drowned in sorrow. Constant sorrow.

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 (I would 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.

But these dreams, unlike early grief in Years 1 and 2, come less often. The tidal waves of grief that engulfed me the first 2 years have subsided to become a steady ebb and flow of a familiar grief. It’s not that my grief is easy, but I’ve grown accustomed to carrying the weight of ache and love. My grief has become quiet tears at 3 years.

The First Year of Grief After Losing My Son, My Forever Son

Quiet Tears at Year 3 Memorial Date

Holidays, birthdays, and the anniversary of the suicide are often difficult. Generally, the first year, with all its “firsts” will be the toughest, but these events may always be difficult times for you. Rest assured that the anticipation of these days is far worse than the day itself. It’s only twenty-four hours, and it will pass as quickly as any other day.

Jeffrey Jackson, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide,
American Association of Suicidology

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, agonizingly 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.

What I’ve Learned in 3 Years of Grief After the Suicide of My Son

Are Quiet Tears My New Normal?

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, both 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 social media 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.

Ghost Memories Swirl Everywhere

Reckoning With Guilt

Guilt is your worst enemy, because it is a false accusation. You are not responsible for your loved one’s suicide in any way, shape, or form. Write it down. Say it to yourself over and over
again, (even when it feels false). Tattoo it onto your brain. Because it’s the truth.

Why do suicide survivors tend to blame themselves? Psychiatrists theorize that human nature subconsciously resists so strongly the idea that we cannot control all the
events of our lives that we would rather fault ourselves for a
tragic occurrence than accept our inability to prevent it. Simply put, we don’t like admitting to ourselves that
we’re only human, so we blame ourselves instead.

Jeffrey Jackson, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide,
American Association of Suicidology

Perhaps it’s because I lost my only child, or perhaps it’ s because I am a mother, I still feel enormous guilt. Journaling helps quiet my grief, and reading about the common emotions felt by survivors of suicide helps make me feel less alone. Feeling the heaviness of guilt can be crippling, but as I move through grief, I find its intrusiveness less often.

Self-Blame and Guilt-I Couldn’t Save My Son
Available Now on Amazon Kindle

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