Approximately 33,300 people take their own lives every year, leaving behind loved ones desperate to understand why this happened. I, too, was left with endless questions after the suicide of my 18-year-old son.
My previous exposure to grief-related material left me offended and unsettled. Much of what I consumed expressed a very watered down explanation of what I was actually experiencing. I wasn’t sure if I was being lied to, tricked or was hypersensitive and over-reactive. Either way, I was absolutely unprepared for the many faces of grief.
How could something as epidemic as grief be treated as not a big deal? Why were people not shouting about the one thing six billion people on this planet will at some point meet head on? This was just wrong, ignorant and dangerous.
Grief is a silent killer that should be added to the list of what kills everyday people. It is a heart attack and rotting cancer. The silence of grief is the real epidemic. I asked myself, “What is the cure?” It has to be awareness!
In other words: LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!
Alone, scared, tortured and desperate – these were the feelings that accompanied me at the very bottom of grief. And at the very bottom is where my new life began. That is where I decided to just let it happen. I just allowed myself to be completely immersed in whatever the process was or would be. The determination to stand side-by-side with grief is what saved my life. Only after surrendering to grief did I receive the answer to why my only son took his own life.
Looking backwards through my experience, I knew that there was a void of spiritual awareness in association with grief. And, once I got past the religious myth that “people who die by suicide go to hell,” my experience with death turned into a new world of exploring more truths about suicide (such as a suicide soul still lives forever).
The saturation of these new truths forced my mind to no longer reject what my soul knew was true, that my son was really making appearances. For both of us, I needed to make peace with what was. And finally, with my son’s persistent loving words, I let go. I knew this wasn’t an entirely new concept but I felt strongly about sharing my take on it with the world. And especially with those ridden with despair and confusion about where their loved ones go when they chose to end their own lives.
Grief doesn’t discriminate either. It’s universal. It goes unnoticed until you go on a rampage looking for how to deal with and survive it. The survival of grief is not meant to be one of despair, mental illness, isolation or total disconnection from an amazing progressive life; I am living proof of that.
I now live a rich, peace-filled life because of my exposure to this powerful combination of both spiritual awareness and the truths about suicide. My grief earthquake literally turned me into a writer.
Surviving grief convinced me to tell people the guttural, ugly and beautiful truth about grief from the truest place within my soul.
This body of work was initially about transferring what I was feeling onto paper as a daily therapeutic writing exercise during my grief transitions. I felt safe on paper, safe enough to literally tear through the pages sometimes with my pen. This safe place allowed me to expel emotions that were old and suppressed, new and grief-related, and always raw and uncensored.
One day, maybe six months after I began to journal daily, I found the courage to read what I wrote. I was shocked, scared and turned on at the same time. I knew I had given life to words that might need to be read by others experiencing grief.
The uncertainty of how to format an entire book from raw, uncensored, journal entries forced me to only think about writing the kind of book that may have helped me when I was trying to figure out what was going on with and around me. Instead of telling people what to expect (i.e., the traditional steps of grief), I decided to just tell the story in hopes that you the reader might find the truth about your grief earthquake. Being a novice griever left me exempt of what grief really felt like and this was the part that ran me over.
The book that resulted, Grateful for Grief, is, I hope, an inspirational self-help tool with end-of-chapter affirmations that send uplifting messages to the reader’s grieving soul.
Monique Antoinette 2011