September 18, 2008

The Moment When Everything Changed

“Things will never be the same” is such a cliché, but when someone you love dearly—a close friend or a family member—almost successfully commits suicide, it is an undeniable truth.

You know that time does indeed heal all wounds and that eventually you will stop bursting into tears at inopportune times and in inappropriate places. (Note to self: tears streaming down your face while seated in the emergency exit row appears to elicit concern in other passengers.)

It also seems likely that at some point your brain will stop reviewing at freeze-frame speed your every interaction from childhood to the present, searching for signs you think must have been more glaring than they probably were when experienced in real-time.

But what is hard to predict is whether or not you will ever be able to look at her without having the attempt come to the forefront of your mind. And how unfair it will be if you can’t.
  • When she takes a vitamin will the thought of the pills immediately appear?
  • When she prepares dinner using a sharp knife will you not wonder about its other uses?
  • What will you now hear when she merely responds “OK” to your inquiry about how her day is going?
Will you ever again be able to completely see her as the wonderful person she is without this one action as the Scarlet Letter on her identity?

And then you realize how selfish such thoughts are compared to the questions she, too, will probably forever be asking.

Some things one day may again be the same (as if that is even the gold standard worth considering) but I doubt I ever will be.


Anonymous said...

Things won't be the same--they will be better. While I obviously don't know the details of this situation, it is an opportunity for the people involved to develop a trusting and authentic relationship where they can know each other more fully.

Yes, you will see her as a wonderful person who has been through hell and had courage to go on. Love will deepen with the knowledge that each of you is seeing the other as you really are and that this new view of a wonderful, flaw-filled person is ripe with the knowledge that love is there in good times and bad.

Take time to mourn your expectations and the past, but know that the future can be filled with a richer, more textured kind of love.

good luck.

Bruce Hammond said...


My thoughts are with you in this situation. I hope that everything works out ok, and that you and the person to which you're referring can continue to have a great relationship, even after this very sad situation.

Keep your head up!


Maddie Grant said...

Just wanted to say my thoughts are with you. I have experienced the effects of a suicide in my family, so I feel your pain. I'm glad she's still here.