guest post and photo by Ari
When my boy died I was left with only photos and memories. I could still hear his voice, the sound of his laughter in the house, could still feel his hug. No-one hugged me like he did – both arms around my back, his head on my shoulder, holding on for longer than just a few seconds. How I missed those hugs!
I often walked around the neighborhood during the first weeks and months of my grief, long walks that would take me away from the house, away from some of the memories and questions and sadness. It really didn't help - the grief followed me! But in connecting with nature, crying to the sky, seeing the beauty that was in a sunrise, or feeling the cold rain mix with my tears, I started to feel my boy's spirit. He walked with me, giving me comfort, trying to give me peace. He did not give me any answers as why he left so suddenly – that will probably never happen - but he did help me to re-enter life, after many many months, and to start learning acceptance. What had happened was never in my control, perhaps not in his either, but in learning to accept that he had died, and the way he died, started me to heal, to learn to let go of the guilt, and with it some of the sadness.
I started seeing seagulls whenever I walked and thought of him. Had they always been there, flying around, white wings beautiful against the blue sky? One would suddenly come into view, gilded by the golden light of the sun, do a few turns over me as if saying hello, I'm here, then fly away. Sometimes whole groups would fly over me. Once I asked God if seagulls are a sign of his spirit then let me see a dozen all at once. The next morning as I opened the drapes to the morning light one flew by, followed by another, and another. I counted 12. I had my answer, and it stayed in my heart. I still say “hi” when I see a seagull.
I walk almost every day still; it has been over five years without my beloved son. I don't look toward the sky as often anymore; there is so much beauty all around me to explore and enjoy. Flowers, little kids at the park, dogs, people. I see my seagulls on days when I feel happy, as if he comes to say “good job mom!”, and on those sad, back into the hole kind of days that I will invariably continue to experience while I live he comes, too, calling his mournful call, up in the sky, circling until I see and acknowledge him. He comes to comfort his mom. If I believe it and feel it in my heart it must be so, right? Yes, this is how I connect with my son, since the beginning he has watched over me, and I will continue to smile when I see his spirit in the shape of a beautiful seagull.
Find what comforts you, what makes you feel close to them, what fills your heart. It doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense, it only matters what you feel when you connect with your beloved.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: