Stumbling Towards Normalcy

February 15, 2006

In the past two weeks I have attended two different survivors of suicide group. My motivation for going has been an increasing level of frustration and outright anger about little things, particularly when I am at home alone. In part I think my anger is about the unrelenting nature of grief. Almost every other experience you live through is either time limited, or feels good even if it lasts and lasts. Grief has neither of those attributes. Every time I turn around it is there, waiting for me; implacable, unreasoning, seemingly unending.

Expressing myself to close friends has gotten me a long ways, and I will certainly continue to avail myself of their love and compassion. Relationships are like an alloy metal, forged in the heat of shared emotion, containing elements of both participants. The relationships I am continuing to forge with my closets friends has only been made stronger by this new round of tempering.

But talking to people without a common experience can only carry me so far. In the end I am trying to express an agony for which there is no language except common experience. Therefore I have sought out these two survivors of suicide groups. Attending group is a new experience in and of itself, so I am aware that my first impressions are more about the oddness of exposing myself to strangers than anything else. I am planning on continuing to attend for at least three months before deciding whether or not to continue.

My first impressions are several and varied. I've met a total of 8 individuals or couples that have all had someone complete suicide. Two have lost brothers, the rest children. I am the only one who has lost his or her spouse. And, without more details about individual circumstances, it appears that Michele was the only person choosing suicide instead of a protracted illness. I feel set apart from the group due to these two facts. Both groups have an underlying agenda regarding suicide prevention and education, and I recognize that the loss of teenage or young adult children is the root of this movement. I feel it is appropriate and worthy to pursue, but I know it isn't what I am looking for.

I am looking for a place to express all my thoughts, my emotions, my fears. I am looking for a place where I can't manipulate the situation to shelter me from the darker places my emotions want to carry me. I need someone who won't be cowed by my tenacity or will to dominate the interaction. What I need, I think, is a skilled bereavement counselor. I feel the group will be useful for me, but too easy to manipulate to really provide any true growth opportunities. I guess I need to seek out a professional counselor.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.