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After the Storm

On February 17, 2017, my life and the life of those she loved changed forever.  My wife had been battling clinical depression and lost that ...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Today was Elaine's Birthday.  When I woke up, the thought that she wouldn't be able to celebrate it today with me was overwhelming and brought me to tears.  She would have been 34.  I had just recently started to be more adventurous with sushi (Elaine had always loved it), so tonight I was looking forward to taking her to Sugarfish-a nice sushi restaurant in L.A. she wanted to go to--It never got to happen.

But what did happen was that some of her closest friends were able to join me in visiting her grave today and then we also went to a sushi restaurant nearby.  It wasn't Sugarfish, but it was still pretty good.  It was nice to see everyone come together to celebrate but very difficult at the same time.  It was difficult for me to be with them since most of them had a significant other in their lives.  I felt a loneliness that I have been feeling a lot of recently.  No one to ride back with me to talk about a funny joke that was said at the table, or to share our thoughts on topics that were brought up.  In the special ways that only you and your partner share.  No hand to hold as we are walking to our car, no one to open the car door for (she always appreciated this).  It's these little things that are small reminders of what I don't have with Elaine anymore.  This loneliness can be overwhelming at times, and I don't know what to do except share about it with people I'm close to. I'm hoping people can relate, whether its a relationship that broke up, or a relationship that ended abruptly by a sudden loss like I have had.  I am hoping people can relate to the emptiness you feel when half of you is completely physically removed from this world, and how you cope with it all and to be able to relate to all the emotion that goes with it.

I appreciate everyone's sympathy of course, so please don't get me wrong.  But I have been longing to meet people that are going through this specific grieving as a result of suicide. The suicide survivor group has been helpful for developing relationships with people in similar situations, but even within that group there hadn't been another guy in his 30s, who recently lost his wife to suicide.  That was until last night.  I met a guy who lost his wife 6 months ago, around my same age. Just talking with him, I can sense we have had similar emotions and thoughts about what we have been going through.  We exchanged phone numbers, so I hope to develop a friendship sharing a common bond in what we have and have yet to experience.  I hope we can help each other navigate through this very difficult type of grieving.

 I am not trying to minimize other types of death and the pain it brings to those left behind, but death by suicide leaves a crater that is unlike most other deaths.  Most other deaths don't leave behind the raging thoughts of guilt and bitterness like suicide does.  Most other deaths allow people to be completely at peace because they know there was nothing that anyone could have done.  Most other deaths don't leave the longing question of "why?" which will be with me the rest of my life.  I also carry with me the moment when I felt for Elaine's pulse and it wasn't there.  This is a memory that will most likely never go away, but I will learn to manage it over time.  

One of the leaders at the suicide support group talked about his loss using the example of a hand grenade.  The person they lost was doing everything in their power to keep the pin in.  They did not want to see their family and friends shattered by them dying.  They did not want their loved ones to go through what they had to go through as a result of their death.  But at a certain point, it just became too painful to hold that pin in.  Elaine didn't want all this destruction to occur, but the only way out of her pain, according to her broken brain, was to let go of that pin.

I want to thank those of you who sent me private messages on Facebook shortly after Elaine passed.  Even though I didn't respond to everyone, I did read those messages.  Today before everyone else got to the cemetery, I got there early to read some of the stories that people had shared of Elaine.  I read them to her at her graveside.  As I was reading them to her, emotion came over me several times and I was able to cry. Emotions rooted in "I wish you knew how much you were loved and appreciated" and "I wish I told you more how much I admired your love for others."  These were all good emotions to get out, and I know there will be much more like them in the future.  

I do hope those of you reading this will not hesitate one second to tell those you love, what you appreciate about them and how much they mean to you.  I challenge you to reach out to one person this week: your spouse, kid, parent, sibling, cousin or friend and share with them how much you appreciate them and what they add to your life.  We are designed to need words of affirmation.  Don't let the awkwardness or shyness get in the way of you showing your appreciation--It could mean the world to them.

I know I talk about how hard it is to be around people with families of their own, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing you.  Please continue reaching out to me to hang out, it means a lot to me.  I have really enjoyed meeting with people I haven't seen in a while, even to just catch up on life in general aside from what is going on.  As I try to figure out what my "New Normal" is, it will be great to stay connected with those who love and support me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul! It was great seeing you today. Thank you so much for your honesty. Im sure no one can replace Elaine and I'm so sorry that figuring out the 'new normal' isn't going to be easy. 😢 I wasn't able to join you guys for sushi this time but I hope we make this a little tradition of ours to pay a visit to Elaine on her bday. Sugarfish next time! :)