Happiness morphs between mildly content and ecstatic. Although I can say that I am happy today, I can also assure you that it is a different happy than what I had before John died.
But it is still happy.
There are many ways to look at the evolution of happy before and after you lose a love to suicide. For a while, it is not anywhere to be seen.
It creeps back in eventually, though. Hard to believe, right? If you’re reading this because you’ve lost someone recently, be patient. Be kind to yourself, but be welcoming if you think happiness is knocking. Be cautious, yes, but give it a chance.
You can be happy again. It will be just like you were before, but different.
The loss stays with you, and wether you like it or not, it’s part of you now. It’s up to you if you want it to weaken or strengthen you.
I’ve heard several similes on how the slow, painful healing process can be.
One compared it to falling into the ocean.
You were sailing along in calm seas, and then you fell into the water. Your boat is gone and you sink to the bottom of the seas, to the darkest depths of a trench. You see nothing. You feel nothing but cold water crushing you under the pressure. You don’t move for a very long time.
One day you see a blip of light. One of those crazy fish with a fluorescent dangly thing. Then It’s gone. But you saw life. It just isn’t anything you’re familiar with.
Then you find yourself floating up a few meters. You have to stop, though, and adjust your oxygen intake. One mustn’t surface too quickly, or else you will get the bends. You stay here for a while. Then eventually float up a few more meters.
Eventually you start hearing and seeing bubbles, and the faint stream of sunbeams puncturing the darkness. Maybe you see a whale in the distance, familiar, but still terrifying.
You pause. You breathe. You float up a few more meters.
Then eventually you see the colour of the ocean, the warmer waters of the top layers, and the crushing weight isn’t as oppressive.
The fish are more lively, the colours bolder and the surface is in sight.
And then it happens. You break the surface and feel the sun, smell the air and take a deep breath. You made it. Your boat is long gone, never to return. You now have the choice to swim to the shore or you can float in the sea for a bit longer. It’s up to you and neither choice is incorrect.
But just be OK that you made it. Don’t be upset, thinking you’re dishonouring your loved ones death. It’s ok to be alive.
The other comparison was drawn on a piece of paper. a circle. Just a circle drawn on a piece of paper. That circle is your life. Just simple, round, doing its thing.
Then it is filled with permanent marker. Blacked out. Dark. That marker is grief.
Your entire life is covered in grief. It doesn’t erase.
What happens next is like a corona around the eclipse. A small circle of light is drawn around the black blob. This is your first ‘good day’. The black ink from the grief circle might bleed into this ring, engulfing it whole. But then another ring is drawn. And another. Eventually, the rings are bigger, wider and take up the whole page. But the black dot remains. Grief will forever be there.
But you can draw more rings, make and be more happiness. Draw more joy, seek more hope.
We all have choices in healing, none of them easy.
I do not think our loved ones did have a choice. They didn’t chose to die.
It was what they perceived was the only option. They were betrayed by life, their brain chemistry, and suicide is what they saw as a necessity. It breaks my heart, but I cannot think that John actually chose to leave me. He was so full of life.
He’s the reason I’m still living, and I’m living happy; Happy, minus the black circle, and minus the memories of being dropped into the ocean. Those are a part of any suicide loss survivor’s being.
But it’s also part of their new happiness. How fucked up is that?
It’s the Same but different.