Content warning: suicide, loss
Ever notice when we get completely worked up and really want to express what affects us deeply, we call it a rant? I’ve had rants before. I’ll have them again. I’ve started conversations with “I’m just gonna rant here for a second.” Or, “Forgive my rant but I just need to say…” “Pardon me, I just have to rant about this.” Sometimes, after a passionate discourse, I’ll finish with, “that’s it… end of rant.” On the off chance that people aren’t aware that the rant meter just ran out.
We’re allowed to do this. I believe we’re required to do this. I’ll go so far as to say it’s good to rant. Healthy to rant. Because what we often define as a rant is not just a rant. It’s our reality. Maybe that reality is a loss of some kind. Loss of life as you knew it to a health diagnosis, loss of a job, loss of trust, loss of a relationship, loss of a child, loss of identity, loss of faith.
News bulletin: we don’t have to apologize upfront for feeling our feelings and sharing our pain. We don’t have to apologize in the middle of it, or even at the end. No apology necessary. Owning it and sharing it divides the pain. We need to share not just the good stuff, but the hard stuff as well. Who doesn’t have hard stuff in their life? Granted it’s so much easier to share the absolute joys of our life. We have a tendency to gloss over the not so easy stuff. I contend it’s a much deeper experience to share the hardcore pain. Not that others can take the weight completely from us. I’d pass it on in a heartbeat if that was really an option. “Here, you take this pain, it sucks. Here you cry these tears, they make my stomach hurt.” But no, it’s ours to walk through. So, we walk. Holding the hurt in a tight knot, arms and heart straining to keep it at bay prolongs the pain. We have to release it to relieve it. Having a story, a rant if you will, means nothing if we don’t tell it. So, tell your story. Someone out there needs to hear it.
My story, my reality, is that I lost my husband to suicide. I lost the essence of him over a long period of time before mental illness completely claimed his life. The man I married and the man I buried was not the same man. I lost him in hundreds of ways over a period of years. I lost him and life as I knew it. I lost the me I was before. I lost my whole identity. I lost things I considered safe, sacred, and constant. I lost hopes and dreams.
My reality is that people never mention that lost life of mine. At least not to me. My reality is being unbelievably visible and completely invisible at the same time. It’s knowing that if I own this truth, simply saying I lost him to suicide, it will full-on stop a conversation. It’s rebuilding a new life one day at a time. It’s ignoring the judgments, spoken and unspoken. There are many judgments about what happened, or might have happened, what they heard happened, or what so and so told someone else about what happened. I will always struggle to grasp how this tragedy evolved.
My reality is finding small joys and working through great grief. It’s finding peace in a solitude that I never asked for. It’s wishing I’d done more, said more, could have changed more. It’s the realization that his choices were outside of my control. It’s finding the words to share my journey and actually speaking them – out loud, not just under my breath.
My reality is sharing my story, as I’m able, and as I grow through it. I promise, I’m growing through it. It’s opening up my heart and giving it up to others. It’s recognizing and acknowledging the pain of my loss and that of others. It’s a process of hard growth, sometimes barely visible changes, and subtle blooming. In the end, it’s realizing I still have much to give, and I’ll grow most by giving it.
So, I find myself writing about this journey. Mostly to process my thoughts and feelings, but also to put into words a topic many wonder about but that no one feels comfortable discussing. People will talk about death by suicide. They’ll talk about those who experienced a loss from it. But they don’t speak to a suicide loss survivor about their reality.
I understand why they don’t. Hard topics are difficult to talk about. This is one of the hardest. We cringe inside. We long for the perfect words and, not finding them, we retreat into silence, which feels safer. We’re afraid to say too much or too little. We offer platitudes that add a new level of pain. We’re afraid that if we address the elephant in the room, we’ll cause more pain. Here’s the deal: the pain is almost always there, even in moments of joy. We take baby steps toward our new reality, but our trauma bogs down our progress. Often, we walk this path alone. Others are distant and unable to sit in the pain with us. I struggle with the loss itself and the isolation that follows it.
I’m finding my story and my words along with my new life. I find it in fits and starts. I find it in introspection and in faith. As I find it, I feel the need to speak of it. So, I do. I share myself repeatedly, passionately, emphatically, and without apology. It’s okay to speak of the hard things in life. It’s not a rant, it’s my reality.
Nancy Bachmann used to define herself as a wife, mother, crazy dog lady, professional floral designer. Now, she’s added survivor of suicide loss to her story. She was a lifelong big city girl. In 2012 she moved to a village with a population of 42 (give or take) in central Nebraska. It was either a moment of brilliance or insanity. Mostly brilliant with splashes of rural insanity. She navigates life through a lens of gratitude, sustained by faith, sprinkled with humor, always with a dog (or two or three) by her side. You can read more on her blog, here. You can also find Nancy on Facebook or Instagram.