It's the anniversary of Simon's death today, three years have passed now since that life changing phone call. I've been looking back at old blog posts and I'm struck by how much better I'm feeling about this date that looms over me every year. The first two anniversaries were hard, really hard. I think the first year was such a blur, so much happened that when I realised a year had passed I didn't really feel I'd properly mourned him, everything still felt so raw.
By the time of the second anniversary I was feeling more accepting, less overwhelmed by it but as the date drew near I found myself dreaming of those early days again, and then with Robin Williams' death it felt like the newly formed scab had been picked off and I was reminded that although I'd come a long way, the feeling of loss was still just there, under the surface.
So it's now three years and I won't pretend there wasn't a feeling of trepidation as the date drew near but despite my fears this year it's different. I'm beginning to hope that scab has finally healed. I still have a scar of course, no death occurs without leaving some mark on those left behind and suicide is such a violent way to lose someone, they are ripped from your existence and and for a while you feel broken. I wondered about writing a post today, the first year I still needed the outlet, last year, in response to Robin Williams' death I wrote about suicide not being selfish. Did I need to write today? I'm not feeling fragile, I don't need the healing balm of writing today. And then I realised that is why I need to write this post today. It's for me but also for anybody reading it who is also mourning the death of a loved one through suicide. They call us suicide survivors as we somehow manage to keep on going after hearing the news nobody should ever hear, news that changes us irreparably. I am a survivor but more than that I'm living, not just getting through each day, not waking every morning with that heavy feeling of loss deep in the pit of my abdomen. I am happy. Not always, sometimes I'm sad or angry or worried but these feelings aren't related to Simon any more. For a long time it was as if my grief was tangled up with who I am, even as those intense first days, weeks and months passed, even when I wrote about feeling better, I still felt that his suicide cast a shadow deep into my soul.
I'm finally starting to feel freer, there will always be a Simon sized hole in my life but it's not what defines me.
If you are grieving somebody who has died by suicide then my thoughts are with you, be gentle to yourself and give yourself time, all the time you need. If you're concerned that somebody you know may be feeling suicidal then talk to them, and more importantly listen to them and believe them. There is some useful advice here.
It's the third anniversary of my brother's suicide and for the first year since it happened I haven't cried, today there will be more smiles than tears.