Losing a Child by Their Choice
Whether it be by suicide or drugs, it still ends up the same. A huge hole in your heart that is just painfully empty. I remember so clearly the day that Heather became a part of my life, the day of her birth. My heart was filled with my love for her. I remember so clearly the day that Heather chose to end her life. My heart became so empty. Don't get me wrong, my love for my other two daughters and my grandson are still full to overflowing, but nothing and no one will ever replace my sweet Heather.
I combine suicide and drug addiction because I personally feel they are two sides of the same coin. Both revolve around depression, anxiety - so many forms of mental illness that it would be impossible to list them all. While I know my daughters are suffering too, I haven't been in their shoes. I know they are hurting and I am hurting, but all of our hearts are a little different. I have three sisters and all of them are alive and well. Heather summed things up in her notes to us. She was miserable and while she knew she was going to hurt us (I don't think she quite grasped how much), she didn't think it was fair to ask her to live in a world where she hurt all the time.
I spend a lot of time feeling guilty. She was my baby and I let her down when she needed me the most. No, I didn't know how badly she was feeling. She didn't want anyone to know. She was embarrassed to let people know. Has her death changed me? Most definitely. Now I know that I have to do all I can to stop anyone else from feeling this pain. It's unbearable. When I hear of someone else taking their lives, my heart hurts a little more. I know the pain that they have left behind.
I have surrounded myself with her pictures. While it can be painful to look at them some days, it also reminds me that she did have a life and we have many memories of her. I think one of the things I miss quite a bit is talking with her. She was so full of life (at least on the outside). After talking with Heather, you just knew that things were going to be okay. I still talk to her, all the time. I have a journal where I write letters to her. One day, maybe it can become a help for others, but for now, it is helping me. Secretly I hope that one day she will reply. Sometimes I can see her and feel her in my dreams and I value those times with her. I don't always remember them, but I do know that I feel a connection and for that, I thank her from the bottom of my heart and soul.
Heather would help anyone, whether she liked them or not. She was definitely a better person that I am. I try each day to make her proud of me, but I know I will never be able to be the angel on Earth that she was. Through her death, I have opened up quite a bit. Many things I held inside for so long that I am finally letting them out. It actually feels good.
Mental illness is a huge problem and one that many are just too embarrassed to face. We had a choice with Heather's decision to end her life. We could try to hide it under the rug, or embrace it and try to help others in the future. We knew Heather would want to help others, so we opted to take that elephant in the corner, mental illness, and help to take it out of the corner and shine a spotlight on it. This is a serious problem and one that no ones needs to feel embarrassed about. People are around to help and everyone, every single person, needs to know that.
If you have lost a child and just need to talk sometime, you can use the contact form on this blog and drop me a note. I will help to share your pain. Everyone is different and I can't say that I will know how to help you, I am not a professional in any sense of the word. I am a Mom that lost my baby and I take my days one step at a time. I fill my days watching my grandson and trying to make things look a little nicer here.
A lot of our furniture is odds and ends that we acquired by various means. I started by finishing an old bookcase for Heather and making it hers as much as I could. Now, I am trying to take the other pieces of the furniture and make them, well, at least match each other. It takes time, but time I have. While I paint, I talk with my baby. I have to believe she hears me. I even read the letters that I write to her aloud, so that if she can't read them, I know she can hear them. It helps me to get through each day a step at a time.
If you lose someone to suicide or drug abuse, please know that there are people out there that have walked in your shoes and many of them are willing to help you on the journey. I am still not sure what my new normal is. I can tell you that right now, it has been 47 days without her. 6-1/2 weeks without her. I have gone through my first Halloween without her. My first birthday without her. My first Thanksgiving without and we are approaching our first Christmas without her. One day, I am told, it will get easier, but know that all the firsts are very hard.