"I can't even imagine what you're going through." If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that, I'd be rich. Ok, not exactly rich, but I'd have enough to buy lunch, I suppose. I jest, of course, but the truth in that statement is very real. Personally, I believe the mind is deliberately incapable of truly imagining the kind of trauma that losing a child to suicide causes, because to do so would be tantamount to experiencing it. The human brain knows better than to allow that, it's a survival instinct.
Even I thought that by now I'd be free of the worst effects of my experience; "Time heals all wounds" as the saying goes. I've come to realise that that sort of wishful thinking doesn't ring true. Time might change one's feelings, but healing takes more than time, and the pain never really goes away. As I'm fond of saying, "You don't get over it, you just have to get on with it." To some degree the pain does lessen, but mostly I believe that I've just begun to get used to it. It's the monkey on my back, the elephant in the room that's become part of who I am, rather simply an experience I've been through. Even using the past tense to refer to it sounds wrong, there's nothing "past" about it.
Unlike most emotional injuries, the core and source of the pain never changes at all, I can go right back to December 5 2006 literally in a heartbeat. I try not to do that, and therein lies one of the fundamental truths of the matter. What eventually wore me down isn't the memories per se, it's the constant battle to keep them at bay. It's a struggle to come to grips with the reality that it won't "get better" in the most common sense of that phrase. Life does get better, but only by force of will. Every other type of anguish, pain, or loss I've experienced alters slowly over time - that's the 'time healing' thing the saying refers to - but this one? This is very different.
Where the original memories of most painful events tend to somewhat dull into memory over time, in this case, that moment of trauma doesn't. It's still there, waiting, just around that next mental corner I turn, for that moment to pounce. Sharp as the day it happened. This has the annoying effect of interfering with everyday life. Every day begins to be seen through the filter of the event, even when I don't realize I'm struggling not to think about it. One begins to fool oneself into thinking that it is "going away" ( where ever that might be... ), that there will finally be some kind of peace. The shocking realization that I've been waiting for the wrong train, so to speak, has been difficult to process.
I thought I understood what was meant by the term acceptance the way it's normally used in grief counseling and therapy. As daunting as it sounded, I believed the thing I had to accept was my son's death. That made no sense to me, but I never knew why until later. The answer, when I thought about it, was obvious - no parent can or will ever truly accept the loss of a child. We can't because we're parents, that comes with the job. If we were any less devoted to and protective of our children, the human race never would have made it this far. It's hard wired into our psyche and can't be denied or altered. It a fundamental part of what makes us human.
Instead, what I've found what I need to learn to accept is the harsh reality that this particular painful moment isn't going anywhere. Pain is a relentless teacher, and one has no choice but to pass the test. There are no make-up exams in life. It's up to me to adjust to that, or in other words, accept it. So in a sense, I'm back to square one, or at least the first step in the next phase of this induced madness. The struggle to get to this point hasn't been without it's effect on my ability to function in day-to-day life, and it seems to have taken a turn for the worse at the moment.
Over time, I've realized that the bad moments and days had gradually become the norm, rather than the reverse. The distractions caused by my increasing stress have finally become too much, and have become a problem at work, so it's back to therapy for me. Hopefully, I can gain some insight into my disorder this time. My early attempts at therapy weren't terribly successful. I'm a tough nut to crack, apparently. I might sound pessimistic, but I'm not, really. If you're having similar problems dealing with depression, reach out, find a therapist, talk to someone that can help! If a born cynic like me can do it, anyone can.