There are days when I feel pain so deep that I can’t get myself out of bed. Sometimes I collapse on the floor and lay there until I can be convinced to smile, laugh or just sit up. At times even making eye contact with a friend trying to cheer me up can be difficult. I often have a friend sleep over to help make sure I can get up in the morning and get myself to work, or even more importantly to have company as I fall asleep. I find the time between when I get into bed and actually fall asleep the hardest. It’s in those moments, where there are no distractions, nothing else to do but sit with my thoughts, that my mind and heart are most vulnerable. Luckily the pain is less raw now than it was in the beginning, but it is no less unpredictable, inconvenient and debilitating when it hits.

I wrote the following piece in December, when I felt completely buried by my grief.

I stay awake,
eyes burning with exhaustion,
heart heavy with sorrow,
head aching under the weight of my grief.

I stay awake,
mind spinning with thoughts of his fall,
ears ringing with the sound of the thud as his body hits the cold marble floor,
nose running as tears stream down my face.

I stay awake,
all alone in this dark house,
with no one to comfort me
and nothing but my pain to make me feel alive.

I stay awake,
because to succumb to my exhaustion,
to give rest to my aching heart,
to take respite from this living hell
would mean resigning to the fact that he is dead
and that no amount of searching, waiting or hoping
will bring him back to my side.

More tomorrow. Florentina.

7 thoughts on “Grief

  1. Florentina, the description of your grief is so vivid and present. As a survivor I know what you’re describing. It took two weeks before I went back to work in December 2008. My son died in Nov 2008. I survived each day, forcing myself to work then collapsing once I returned home. I experienced two breakdowns–one in March 2009 and the second in Sept 2009. I simply could no longer will myself to get out of bed or out of my house for about a week each occurance. As you described, unpredictable, inconvenient, and debilitating! But I read about the grieving process to understand what was happening to me and I treated myself gently. I let others know what I needed and I resisted anyone telling me how I should
    grieve. I briefly took a prescribed antidepressant, mostly to document a legitimate health concern for my employer. I don’t think the meds helped me as much as walks on the beach talking about what I was experiencing with another survivor who I think God brought into my life for just that space of time. There were and are a number of things that have helped me work through the grief. It does get better and you can cope with it. But I did also have a plan in case I found myself spirally down into a dangerous depression. Yes…unfortunately, I only realized after my son died that there was family history with mild and serious mental illnesses and suicide and that I myself have had multiple episodes with depression. That awareness actually helped me greatly with understanding periods of my own life. I gained this awareness after reading books by Christopher Lukas–Silent Grief and Blue Genes. Lukas’ mother and brother died by suicide.

    I keep the light on now when I sleep. Usually I read [or more recently comment on a blog 😉 ] until sleep overtakes me and the light is still on. If I wake up sometime during the night, instead of reaching over to turn off the light I’ll just cover my eyes with a pillow. I never used to leave the light on. It’s been 1 year and 4 months since my son died…

    Please take care; thank you for writing…Aloha, Florentina

  2. Florentina – Your posts the last few days while your mother is away are heart-breakingly beautiful. You sound like an amazing young woman and an awesome big sister. I am so sorry for your loss and for your grief. I have corresponded with your mom, so she knows that my 17 year old son Teddy died by suicide about a year ago, on Feb. 18, 2009, while he was at school. (An amazing HS junior – scholar, athlete, friend and brother.) Now, I think constantly about my other son who is 13 and in seventh grade at the same school. They were brothers and they were truly best friends. I have been writing a blog about Teddy, but it is “private” (I can explain why another time, less publically.) If you’d like to see the blog, let me know and I will send you an “invitation.” I think there are some things there that may be of particular interest. Andrew was blessed to have a sister like you. Carla xox

  3. Thank you both so much for your kind words and thoughts. Having the support of fellow survivors is invaluable and I am so grateful for it. Peace and love.

  4. Florentina, thank you for giving us a peek into your soul. You are a gifted writer and beautiful person. As I’ve looked at the photos over these months, I can see that you and Andrew had a special chemistry – his smiles are biggest when you two are posing together. Though I think Andrew made everyone feel they were special when he was with them. Thank you also to you and your mom for continuing to share. Your words and raw honesty give those of us who are working with those grieving or involved in suicide prevention, or just feel your pain deeply – insight that goes beyond many of the books on the subjects. Please continue and know that we are there with you in your grief and journey toward some sense of recovery.

    Peace & Love

  5. My heart aches for you Florentina. I want to take this horror away from you and know that I can’t. But you are not alone, I am not alone, none of us are really alone, we have our sorrow, but we also have our love; here and “there” too.
    I love you Florentina.

    Your Mummy

    ps there are so many people like you and me, and Daddy and Robert at the conference and also there are some who once tried to die by suicide, but survived and are now well and thriving.
    Oh, I’ve met a woman General!

  6. Florentina, you write beautifully about such a devastating subject. My husband killed himself 7 weeks ago and I can relate to a lot of the thoughts and feelings you’ve had. I think writing about it is somewhat cathartic.
    You have my deepest sympathy. Wishing you peace and healing.

  7. Janet, please know you are among friends who understand. My 22 year old son died by suicide in Nov 2008. I find comfort in reading and commenting here on Esmeralda’s blog. (It seems awkward to call the blog Esmeralda’s bc her family and other reader/commenters are also so much a part of what Esmeralda has started and nourishes.) Take good care, Janet. Warm thoughts and hugs…Aloha~

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