I've learned tolerance. The little things that used to seem so big to me are now just a speck of dust. It's like I've been through the worst event possible, so anything else should be a walk in the park compared to it. The ups and downs of everyday life, the disappointments when things don't go as planned...well, they just don't seem to matter anymore. Life goes on, so I intend to live it to the fullest and now sweat the small stuff.
I've learned empathy. It seems like I can almost look into another person's eyes now, or read a post on the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors forum, and I feel the pain that person is feeling. To some that may sound more like a curse than a blessing, but to know how someone is hurting inside gives me the opportunity to say the right thing, to offer comfort and caring, to let them know they are not alone in their pain.
I've learned to love. Without restriction, without rules, but with my whole heart and soul. If I surround myself with only positive emotions, my world becomes a much better place to live in, and those around me, be they family, friends, or total strangers, benefit from it. I'm a much nicer person now than I was when my son died.
I've learned faith. I've always believed in a Power greater than us, but in the background of my existence. Now faith is what gets me through each and every day. The faith that all things happen for a reason, that there is a better place when life is over, and the faith that I will see not only my beautiful son again but all the others I have lost over the years as well.
All of these things I have learned because of my son, Josh. I miss him terribly, but I know I will see him again and I talk to him every day. I love him deeply, and I regret that he felt he had no option other than suicide. And I understand the depth of his despair, and my heart aches with him.
For those just starting on this journey through grief, I hope this gives you hope. Life will go on, and if you learn from the experience, it will be a fulfilling and peaceful life again...just different from what you thought it would be before you lost your precious loved one.
Cynthia Slider lost her youngest son to suicide in 2001, and she draws on that experience to support, console, and educate those who join the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors Forum. She also coordinates and staffs the monthly steward program and contributes regularly to the Alliance of Hope blog. Cyndi co-founded and helps facilitate the Columbiana County SOS bi-monthly support group. She lives in rural eastern Ohio with her husband.