Searching @ Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery - St Louis, Missouri

About Lingering Memories & Reflections: 

Memories come in a variety of forms. Some are still images of a time, while others are dynamic events. Then we have the ones associated with markers on our timeline. These launch us into the tomorrows and all the while we tote the baggage of our past.

The New Year resolution week magically takes disappointments and transforms them into dreams. Memories of my past and the hopes of my future. In accordance with my faith, Rebecca (my wife, who chose to leave this life early) has been reunited with her sister, Ruth, who died at 89.

Ruth’s memorial service flooded my brain with memories. With my in-laws, my son and I shared events of days gone by. The memories were filled with joy and moments of sadness. They revolved around growing up, marrying and moving away.

The memorial services took place in Rebecca’s homeland. From there she would spend the next three decades with me.

My son, Michael, did all the driving that allowed us seven hours of fellowship going and coming.

Ruth’s ashes would be buried, privately, in their family plot.
Seventeen years earlier I had done the same, with Rebecca’s ashes. I had my pastor and one friend with me for the interment. I would do it the same way all over again. Privacy has special benefits under these circumstances.

At times like this, I commonly fall back on memories of the good times but inevitably that trauma moment intervenes. It was just five words, “Rebecca has taken her life.” Instantly all our plans and dreams vanished and anguish consumed me. It would be months before I could consider anything. I just operated on instincts (spur-of-the-moment stuff.)

To cap off that trip, a couple of females, that I met through a suicide support group shared dinner and the evening together. One of their husbands came with us and sat quietly on the side. The three of us had spent a couple of years together, every Thursday night. We were coming to terms with the suicide thing. It was, again, a confirmation of the value in shared grief, since everyone will do it in one way or the other.

Together we talked through past struggles and the turmoil of establishing new dreams for the tomorrows. Something we once could have never imagined. It has been almost a decade for them in the quest to find PEACE after suicide.

For that evening, we could turn off performance mode and be who we are now. A huge relief for us. It takes significant emotional resources to hide out inside, and at the same time perform externally for effect. A significant portion of one’s character is compromised in this process. It somehow distances you from yourself.

That night was like a pardon from a sentence we were handed. We shared the processes we developed to sorting through the debris, emotions and gaining some control of ourselves, again. The four of us, with no roadmap, had struggled through this together. I came away with a firmer sense of where I fit into this world.

Part of our conversation involved the perplexity of trying to explain ourselves. Recognizing our friends, who expected us to return to the “who we were before.” Then on to the friends who were unwilling to wade the swamp with us and then simply disappeared, never to return.

The emotional energy was limited in those first years. It took me a long time to realize I could not go through the details with everyone interested on an individual basis. My emotional gas tank would run dry.

Everyone grieves and sets priorities differently. This is something a survivor has to let go of, or remain stuck. But from all that chaos new relationships formed. Many would never re-occur, except for these circumstances.

As I reflect back over things today, almost eighteen years later, I have invested considerable time trying to help others on the trail behind me. It has been one of those, “I could do this, I should do this,” yet “I would rather not be here . . . period.” It is an obligation for me, now, considering all the help I was afforded.

As the years have passed, I have developed a severe hearing handicap. So I am not capable of moderating a group alone any longer. Background noise associated with multiple conversations are impossible to decipher. There are things I could do about this but just have not done them. That is a goal for 2017 and I must admit it is not a new one.

How will this Year End?  I am clueless, maybe next New Year’s Eve will provide some clues other than losing weight.

I no longer have grandiose dreams about changing the world regarding suicide. That is a common theme in grief support, contrasted with just “do the next thing.” I have resigned myself to this role. As the years have progressed, meaningful things have continued to appear on the horizon.

Finding Peace After Suicide involves many struggles and decisions. No one but survivors can control what path is chosen. Like a lot of things in life, we have to step out in faith and stretching beyond our comfort zone. It is about setting realistic goals and recognizing all the hard work it takes to establish a plan along with the motivation to execute that plan. Management 101.

Peace will not mysteriously appear. “Time heals all wounds is a myth. I always think that if I can do it, well, anyone can.

I am presently trying to do initial editing on my writing on, something I have been remiss in. Finding PEACE is what I hope to help others to do . . . the ultimate goal along with “doing the next thing,” the current task.

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