Spring can be such a breath of fresh air. Especially if you live in the mountains where it snows all winter. Once the buds start blooming on the trees and the sun seems even more intense, it’s as if the world’s telling you to wake up and feel the hope around you.
Conflicting emotions surface for me in spring and early summer because it’s when my brother, Rod, killed himself. I begin to feel the emotions creep up before the actual day when he left. I start to react to things I wouldn’t normally react to and I find myself worrying about my family, my mother especially. The emotions are like the beginning of a wave that starts out gently tugging at me and builds gradually until the anniversary of the day he ended his life.
Last year I tried something new that seemed to work really well for me. I began at Easter time. Every day when I’d wake up I’d think about Rod in some way, even if I made it up. For example, when the sun was shining through the window into my eyes one morning I said to myself, “Okay, Rod. I see you. You want me to know that you are here and that you love me.” Another day it was snowing, a late seasonal storm that really brought me down because I was tired of snow. I opened a window and let the particles of moisture hit my face and imagined they were Rod’s tears from missing us all.
I also gave myself permission to just have down days. I wrote an email to my closest friends who see me often and just said that if I seemed moody or down it might be because it was “that time of year” and that I might be feeling his death more intensely. I told them I didn’t want anything from them but their understanding.
I also did really nice things to honor him. One week I bought fresh flowers and when I looked at them I said a quiet ‘hi’ to him in my heart. Another week I went to a really funny movie and imagined him laughing right next to me. (He had the most infectious laugh.) One day I took my boys for ice cream after school and imagined him sitting there with us, enjoying my boys, whom he never met. I imagined what he would love about them.
What I know to be true is that losing someone you love hurts to the very core. There is no easy way through grief and loss unless you just hide from it…and even then it somehow comes back to you. It takes guts to feel your pain and to allow yourself the freedom to go through that darkness. It’s the hardest at those times to see the light. Yet, I believe that therein lays the answer…the light.
We can feel the intense pain. We can even master the awfulness of grief with self- pity, anger or resentment. In my eyes, the real journey is to somehow find light and love and honoring amidst the resistance that loss can bring into our life. Ironically, it has been in losing Rod (and in understanding how dark his life was—enough to where he killed himself) that I have found a light to my life I didn’t have before. Through his death, he has shown me that I have to search hard but that I can find light and life and joy even on the hardest of days.