H IS FOR HONORING
by Therese Gump
To be able to honor a person’s memory is a great consolation when they are no longer around. How do we come to terms with honoring the memory of the person we loved who has died by suicide? We do not wish to honor the act, and yet we wish to maintain a reverence for the person’s life. To hold dear the good times and the happiness that we shared for many years is part of our healing. How do we manage to keep those moments that we cherished in a special place in our hearts while detaching them from the awfulness of the suicide? What can we do that lets us savor the sweet moments of their life and not deify the person or add a heroic flavor to the choice they made that destroyed this precious life?
It may take us a long time to focus on the positive parts of this life which was so suddenly erased from our presence. The negatives are so dramatically imprinted upon our souls. Painful images keep passing before our eyes. Our failure to find a means to stop them beats us up emotionally like waves washing up on the sand wearing us away. When we can, we need to let go of some of that pain and allow ourselves the truth in the knowledge that we did the best we could do.
I remember when my son played Santa Claus. That has become a good memory even though that first Christmas it was excruciating to see a different person in the garb of this Spirit of Christmas. It hurt so badly that I wanted to scream sometimes. Now I don’t feel that way. The memory of his wanting to help out that way at Christmas for his nieces and nephews is a warm glow inside of me. I never thought it would be a truly pleasant memory again, but it is.
My focus is not on the pain of his death, but on the joys of his life. I can honor his strengths – and he did have strengths before this depression overcame him.
A survivor who lost a son to suicide told me in the very first weeks after his death to hold fast to the good memories. I did not fully understand what she meant, but I do now. The intensity of the pain is no longer present.
I can honor the good memories and bless him for his strengths. I can toast to his life, to his love and to the son he was to me. I honor the blessing of the time he was with us, not his act, but the joy of his life.
Source: The Obelisk, November 1991, Vol 12, Number 16