Gettin’ Your Grief On: The First Anniversary of the Day the World Stood Still
One year ago today my partner called me…at first I did not understand what he was talking about…he was telling me…his 18 year old son was dead.
Getting’ your grief on…it is a term that we coined around our house after July 31 of 2018. That afternoon when my partner called me…he was very animated about something…at first I did not understand what he was saying. What he was telling me was…his 18 year old son was dead. He thought he had committed suicide.
Here is how it all went down and *WARNING* this is graphic. It has been a beautiful summer day, his son was home alone and for whatever reason decided to try erotic asphyxiation that is the act of restricting your breathing to increase the sexual experience. He passed out and was not able to stop or rescue himself. As a result his father (my partner) found his 18 year old son hanging by a rope from one of the rafters in the garage. His body was hanging next to a ladder. I mean his body was within an inch or two of the ladder. He must of lost consciousness during the act of restricting his oxygen, was unable to pull himself out of it and suffocated to death. His dad got him down, called for help and started to try and revive his son. He tried…but it was too late. He was gone…his baby boy, this young man with so many plans for the future was gone. He was two weeks away from his 19th birthday.
At first his dad thought his son committed suicide. That made NO sense. OK...OK...I know most people say that when someone commits suicide but it really did not make sense. The Kennebec County Sheriff’s office were the ones who took the lead that day and quickly able to determine by how his body was found, where some of clothes were found and since his computer was not password protected they took a look and found it open to a website that, from what I am told, walks you through how to do this. IT TOLD HIM HOW TO DO IT! The blessing in that discovery is that he did NOT commit suicide, his loved ones did not ‘miss something’, it was not intentional and it was accidental. It provided an odd comfort that afternoon of shock and grief. Just to you know, my dad commited suicide, so I have some experience with that subject in my life.
The family has been very open about what happened. I am very proud of them for that.
My partner had talked to his boys about all the thing you are supposed to talk to your kids about; sex, drug, drinking, risky behavior, depression, school, how to be a good person…but he did not talk to his boys about THIS since he was unaware of this behavior and how popular this behavior is until it was too late. Part of his healing was to honest about what happened and share the information about it's risks. This is risky stuff alone or with a partner.
Today, July 31, it has been a year; his birthday, one month anniversary, his mother’s-father’s-older brother’s birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day have all passed. I have had the heart break and honor of this journey and sharing this ‘new normal’ with his Dad.
It has been a roller coaster and not in a good way. At first it was SO unreal. It can very easy those first few days to detach. It was about the details that needed to attended to and making sure (the best I could) that others were being taken care. For me...I go still go back and forth between it being so unreal and just a profound sadness. That is the thing with grief…it is a sneaky little jerk. It does not run in a predictable pattern, it comes in waves and you just never know when you are going to get smacked by a wave. And the wave may be a more subtle push or a huge surge that knocks you on your butt. That is the thing with grief…it is a sneaky, unfair player that you need to find some middle ground with to survive.
He is not my son…I did not have the honor of knowing this young man for those 18 years, 11 and a half months. It was only a few years I knew him but I hold him in my heart and feel his absence every day. He IS the son of the person I love, someone my partner would have given his life for…so that makes him family to me.
I don't speak of it every-time I feel it...I do acknowledge it to myself. Part of my journey in this has been letting him talk about that day...listening to the details...to accept those mental images into my life. Most days is it the subtle waves…wishing I could share something with him…or we could all go somewhere together…and I have to acknowledge...I can’t. We can’t. That sucks.
I only have a few things to offer and this stuff goes for anyone going through a hard time:
I know this sounds cheesy…be kind to others. You have no idea what glory and pain drives their lives and makes them who they are. I know…it can be hard to do all the time…but do your best.
My advice to anyone who is trying to be there for someone who is grieving is…well…just be there. This is the new normal for today and every day. Speak of the person who has died. You really don’t need to say much just be willing to listen. Understand they will never ‘be over it’. One does not ‘get over’ the death of a loved one. (Yes, people have asked that to a another grieving parent…’you are not over that yet?’ WHAT??) It is a new chapter that is built on the previous chapters.
If you are grieving...be kind to yourself. Realize no matter what some jerk may say to you… you don’t get over it. It is a part of you now. It will sneak up on you and it can kick your butt. It can be easy to become stuck in the pain so I urge you get the support and help you may need . It has layers you may need to deal with depending on what happened and to whom. The passing of an ill grandparent may be a different grief experience than the sudden death of a child. Yes…it is ok, good and healthy to ask for help or to go to a grief support group. Read about grief and learn more about the experience. It is so different for everyone. You will grieve and please remember is OK to smile, laugh and live too.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for understanding. Any haters please...not today...or any day. I just don't need that...I will be over hear just getting my grief on.