Some may believe it to be strange that at the absolute worst time of my life, only three days after Scott, my husband of nearly twenty-four years died by suicide, I made plans to write a book. In hindsight, it was not strange at all. My brain was trying to stop the pain and destruction and to create some order, something I could control. That was over three years ago and although it remains sometimes difficult to use the word suicide, I have regained control.
My intent from the very the beginning was to write a book to provide survivors, the term that is commonly applied to those closest to the deceased, with a road map, and more importantly, hope. Almost immediately I began asking to speak with other women who had been in my position and were eventually able to experience joy again. “Joy” is not a term I commonly used back then or even today but for some reason it’s the word my brain was looping and seeking. What I discovered was a parade of other survivors who were exactly what I did not want to be in the future. Stuck in their grief and most definitely not joyful. Their situations did not give me a lot of hope. It was quite terrifying to imagine myself feeling as miserable as they seemed to feel years after the fact. I was desperate to find someone who had lived through it and was actually happy
Despite feeling like a fairly competent women who was used to managing complicated situations, his act of suicide completely flattened me and reduced me to someone I didn’t recognize. As a friend reminded me, “you were frozen as to how you would change the light bulbs.” The first year following his death can best be described as frantic. I was frantic to breath, to make it through the next couple of minutes, to maintain sanity, to keep up with the daily chores, to gain control, to understand, to not feel, to make progress, to achieve, to recognize myself, and ultimately to find peace and joy. I have, and I do. All the time. Three years ago, I was part of a couple, which also meant I wasn’t fully myself. Today I’m fully me, and I like that person. And I’m very good at changing light bulbs.
This is my process, my path to healing. It’s not the same path that other survivors will take but it’s my passionate hope that this book will in some way ease the pain, promote the healing, and eventually help other survivors find their version of joy.