After my son’s death by suicide, I had all this love with nowhere to land. Where do I put it all?

There are still days when I feel my former self is on a shelf in another life. My new life, the one I never wanted, started after my son’s death in 2015.

While it’s not as often as it once was, there are times I sit with an undercurrent of loss that zaps my energy and motivation. I am writing about it to process and work through one of those episodes. You all are my victims in that exercise.

I know another day it will all be different. That I will feel differently.

But there are days when everything takes so much and I don’t have the bandwidth.

That’s the thing about emotions.

They are temporary and always changing and that reminder to myself has helped me feel the feelings and then distract– which usually means I go outside, make a phone call, or read a book. Or the ultimate–a dance party with my dancing music playlist.

At our suicide loss support group for which I am a co-facilitator, one of our members said, “I can’t believe this is my life.” He had lost his daughter. I lost my son.

It’s like this group member was reading my mind the second I was thinking the very thing he said. It was a remarkable moment of connection.

It’s nice to have a safe place to go where it’s OK to be sad

A safe space is where no one avoids you or gives you some sideways advice to “talk about it less,” or “don’t worry, be happy.” This is a place where people don’t try to cheer you up but instead know to sit with you in your pain as you work through it–others who understand. And yeah it’s OK to laugh, too. That happens a lot.

Other bereaved people have also talked about how hard it is to put on the game face because when we talk about our loss, it sucks the energy out of the room and people avoid us and that makes it even harder.

It’s exhausting to consistently monitor oneself, “Am I sharing too much?”

A brief conversation about our loved one is so appreciated and doesn’t bring everyone down but instead deepens connections. Those conversations are often short, they lead to other conversations about other things. If we are talking about it too much it’s usually because we don’t feel heard. That happens when someone consistently steers the conversation away from the topic due to being uncomfortable. I’ll often think of the line below and laugh to myself in those circumstances.

Sorry to interrupt your beautiful life with my tragedy.”

Just know that one moment in time when someone else mentions our loved one, tells a story, or says, “You know that time Charles did such and such,” leaves us feeling our loved one existed and mattered. It makes us feel our loved one’s connection to family and friends is still valid and remembered. Otherwise, it feels like our loved one is being erased. That’s all it takes but we find ourselves hoping for that and rarely getting it.

That lethargic undercurrent does become a distant memory as our life moves forward

Not that we are done with it because we have learned to live with grief in our lives.

For those of you living the traumatic loss, it’s OK to feel resentment that you won’t get those life moments you had always thought you would.

Some days the grief makes me feel that connection with my son, Charles. I can look at pictures, cry, and feel his presence because I have learned to love him even though he is a spirit now and not physically with us. Over time my relationship with my beloved dead has evolved. Because my love never ends until my own heart stops beating.