My feelings swung from one extreme to the other for a long time after Daddy’s death. Numbly, I reasoned that I must be doing fine. I would feel guilty that I didn’t feel anything about Daddy’s suicide. Then I judged there must be something terrible about me and doubted my ability to love. The next day, or maybe even the next minute, something would trigger a flashback. It could be anything, the food I ate that day before I found him, a movie scene with gunshot sounds, or a sudden sound of silence. And I became a trembling volcano of feelings and memories that I couldn’t turn off. I felt like someone stripped me of my skin and dragged me through salt.
My soul burned from those flashbacks. I felt embarrassed by them if they happened to me in public. I felt afraid of them if they came while I was alone.
Those experiences led me to believe that I would never get over my father’s death. I felt I was either a rudderless vessel carried or tossed by raging currents or sitting flat on a dead sea. Then the anger came, and I vowed that I wouldn’t let my father’s choice affect the rest of my life. None of those ways of thinking predicted the truth of my future.
The actual relief of my experience came when I realized time had gradually slowed those swinging emotions and memories to something less extreme. Little by little, I stopped reliving the pain. Recalls became bittersweet and controllable. That adage about time healing wounds became my truth.
Suicide is like a razor slashing at the souls of those left behind. The cuts are deep and serious. No matter how much you want this to be over, keep talking, keep breathing. It takes time to heal.