Yesterday my husband came home and told me that one of the nurses he works with had lost her nephew. He was 18 and shot himself while his family was at church. All the emotions came up. The pain was intense. I sought out the boy and looked at his obituary and wondered why. Why? I think about everything Phillip had to live for, Ava Rose, a family who loved him and it is upsetting that someone would intentionally take their own life. I find for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, the pain must even be more intense. To have a loved one in so much pain and not be able to stop such an act would generate feelings of guilt and blame. It is easy to think that we could have done something to change the situation.
Grief and loss is a tricky subject.
Each person processes it differently and the emotions are so very raw. It is hard to find logic in grief. No matter how the person died, the sense of loss runs deep into the soul of the people who loved them. I find people struggle with what to say. Sometimes it is easier to just avoid me altogether.
I found myself reading this boys obituary and staring at this young mans face. Why was he in such pain that he could find no other way to cope? I suppose even those closest to him are asking that question. I mourned again. For him. For his family and loved ones. For his friends. Why?
Picking at the Scab called Grief
As a kid I remember falling down and scraping my knees and eventually scabs would form once the raw, bloody spots began to heal. My brain would tell me to pick the scab….often it was too early and it would hurt and then begin to bleed. I remember it being painful, not as painful as the initial injury, but painful in a different way. Why did I do that? Why pick the scabs? There was a deep desire for it to heal. Quicker. I wanted to have my nice looking knees back. I didn’t want the ugly scab and I didn’t want the scar it would leave. I somehow thought by pulling it off, it would have less of a scar. In the end, the only thing that helped was to go through it and allow for natural healing. I had to give it the time it needed to heal. There was no way around it. I had to go through it. There were things I could actually do to make the process easier. Soaking in a bath seemed to help some. Lotions helped. And then there was the scar. It stayed for weeks, months and some I still have today, depending on the extent of the injury.
A Broken Knee
One scar in particular I have is from knee surgery. I remember getting it. I was riding a moped in January in Nebraska. I got stuck going pretty fast in some frozen ruts and lost control. I lay in the dark cold for several minutes hoking the horn hoping my mother would hear. I was 11 years old and it was months of recovery. I still have pain in my hip and knee from the injury. My mother found me and took me in and put me to bed. My knee and hip were in so much pain that I thought I would pass out. There was a painful surgery and recovery. I missed months of school. I felt lonely. I missed my friends. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t play with the other kids. I was helpless and at the mercy of my body. I felt I was missing out on life because of this injury. I lay in bed while others did things I could not do. I remember having a resolve in me that I would not stay there. Much like I have now. I was determined to get back to normal activities. In May I did a 26 mile walk in one day to feed the hungry. Probably not the smartest thing. My mother realized very quickly there was no stopping me. Of course my hip and knee were re-injured. My knee swelled to two, or three times its size. I was back on crutches. Over the years, my knee has done well and at times it has also given me fits. When I was pregnant, when I exercise too much or if I turn it wrong. I have pain when I least expect it. For the most part, I have learned to live with it. When I look at the scar from the multitude of stitches and touch it, it takes me back to that moment years before. The pain. The long recovery. The loneliness. I am glad it is behind me. Or perhaps I should say, it is a part of me.
Never like the First Day
So last night when I became obsessed with the 18 year old boy who died. It was like picking a wound on my soul. It was like going back to the moment in time when Phil died. Very painful. I am still thinking of it this morning. The best I can hope for is one day it will be like the scar on my knee….a reminder of the strength and courage I had to go through such a thing. A reminder that I can and do have a strong resolve and that I can and do go through loneliness and come out on the other side. Daily, I will choose to focus on remembering Phillip a different way. Not the pain. I will focus on his daughter, Ava Rose. His smile. His voice. His swagger when he walked. His smell. I don’t want to pick at the wound anymore. I know I will. Awareness is key. Once I am aware I am doing it, I stop and choose differently. I do miss that boy. I miss him to the depth of my soul and the loneliness and pain is not like the first day. It is now a part of me and I will continue to gather tools to support me in living an amazing life.