I posted this piece in 2018 on Facebook, before I had Things In My Pocket. I thought it was worth republishing here.
It starts in mid-May. I get moody, snappish. Kate asks “Are you mad at me?” No, I’m not mad at you. And yes I am, but only because I’m mad at everyone.
It’s been over 40 years since that terrible day in June when my brother John died by suicide, three days before my 14th birthday. And nearly 30 years since my beloved sister Barbara died, also by suicide, in July.
So summer kind of sucks.
Even after all this time, the death-day anniversaries still hit me hard. The most painful thing? Not talking about it. Suicide is taboo. Even in the survivor of suicide support groups, where everyone has experienced the death of someone they love by suicide, I feel different. Weird. “Two siblings? Wow, that’s terrible.” Then an awkward silence. I don’t blame them, I don’t know what to say either.
It’s June 4th, and I feel the weight of depression and lethargy slowly settling into my bones. It’s harder to get out of bed. The world looks a little grayer. (This Seattle rain isn’t helping!)
It’s a strange juxtaposition, this ancient grief and guilt with my present-day reality. My life now is so lovely and rich and full of joy and learning and heart-connections, both in my personal life and in my work, I almost feel bad for still feeling bad.
And yet, I can’t deny the grief is there.
I can’t make the grief go away. But I can do something about the secrecy, the pretense that everything is okay.
On one level everything is okay. It’s more than okay. My life is amazing! I am truly, deeply grateful for the life I have, for every single part of it, including the tragedies, heartbreaks, and betrayals along the way. Everything in my life has shaped who I am. And I like who I’m becoming.
On another level, on days like today, I feel shattered, broken. It feels like the grief will never end, that I will never be whole.
Years ago when I was meditating, feeling sad and lost, a thought suddenly popped into my head: “I am a beautiful mosaic.” Made out of all the pieces of my heart that shattered so long ago.
I’m still finding pieces I thought were lost forever. Creativity. Connection.The ability to share hard things.
And in the sharing, the pieces come together in new ways, creating new designs and patterns in the mosaic of my life. New opportunities for healing, growth, connection, and wholeness.
In connection and community, in sharing the hard stuff, we can find healing.
Please, don’t suffer in silence. Invite me for coffee. Let’s go for a walk. I’d love to listen.
What pieces of your own beautiful mosaic are you longing to share?
I always am encouraged that you are so open about how you are feeling. Knowing that someone else has struggles. Thanks, Cheryl
Thanks Cheryl. We all have struggles, we’re just trained to hide them. I think the world would be a better place if we could be more open about it all. Hugs to you! xo
Like Sara sings, I have a broken, broken heart, in thousands of little pieces. I am going to make something beautiful, beautiful, with all these little bits and pieces.
Not an easy thing to do, to make something beautiful out of heartbreak. But it is possible, and usually takes a lot of time. And trust.