Mark left us in September 2015. Here we are in January 2017.
It hasn’t been very long since we lost our friend to his battle, but in some respects it feels like an eternity. I had hoped to have learned more, or gleamed some sort of insight into why he did what he did through the many conversations we’ve had since. But nope, nada. I closed that line of inquiry when I decided to let the sun shine again.
He’s gone but never forgotten.
Last year for Bell Let’s talk Day I struggled to find the words to express my state of mind. // You can read last year’s post here // I had been given all kinds of books on dealing with grief, and it was suggested by many that I contact the Canadian Forces’ family support line (number at the bottom) for people dealing with loss. At the time I didn’t want to. I still don’t want to. I don’t want to put myself in the place I need to be in emotionally and mentally, in order to open up and make a phone call like that totally worth it. Who does?
My husband and our friends were offered support through the military healthcare services. But for people who aren’t directly related to the member or in the forces themselves, support can be hard to come by for this kind of thing, especially if you’re living in another language and don’t have a family doctor or any medical personnel to talk to.
* Access to healthcare and mental health resources are incredibly hard to come by for military spouses. There was a report published this fall by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (in the US) on the state of mental health amongst military spouses // here // but basically, “The findings suggest that […] military wives are twice as likely as other married women to fall through the treatment net.”* It’s not all doom and gloom, some families are able to find healthcare providers when they move, but those are few and far between and usually reserved for children, pregnant woman (only while they’re pregnant) and the elderly. If you’re a reasonably healthy adult you’re SOL.
Sure, I had tons of people at the outset who brought casseroles and offered to talk, but it’s hard to be real and level with people in the moment. As the months wore on and my friends shifted their focus to new issues, I was only then starting to really want to talk about it. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do with that. I think there was a time last year where calling would have been a good thing to do, but as the person running our household, working a job and running a side hustle (the blog) I just couldn’t spend time opening up that wound to a complete stranger. Especially not after it had forced itself closed long enough to get back to some semblance of daily life. You’ve heard me say it enough on here – especially in last year’s wrap-up posts – I wasn’t having an easy go at anything and my husband and I struggled to work through our grief and emotions separately and as a couple.
They say when it rains it pours, and last year was hurricane season my friends. Yet here we are, in January 2017. Proof that life moves on and things resolve themselves. Proof that things eventually look up, and that if you are committed to being happy and finding joy, you’ll eventually get there. That sunshine after the rain always feels so good for a reason.
When we got posted this spring it was a chance to move away from the saga, to move into a place that wasn’t filled with memories; where I wouldn’t drive past where he did it and wonder, where we had never had coffee or lunch, a place where he had never been part of our lives. It was the beginning of a new chapter.
We started that new chapter with all the zeal that two people escaping a hurricane have. We made the effort to reconnect with each other (because grief tends to force you into your own little hole), to enjoy our new surroundings, and to let the sunshine in. Sure, there were and are moments were we confide in each other that we feel bad for having “moved on” (if you ever really do move on). You know, the days or weeks where you don’t think about them even once. It feels horrible writing that, it’s like it diminishes the impact he had on our lives (or us on his) and the severity of what happened. But it doesn’t, and I need to remind myself of that every now and then. We can’t be expected to wallow in pity and sadness, or to spend our lives saying “hey don’t be happy.” He certainly wouldn’t have wanted that.
Instead, we’re finding little ways to honour his memory, and spread some joy around.
On the anniversary of his passing I went for a long adventure walk with our dog. He loved Bruce and he loved the outdoors, so that seemed fitting. We watch a certain comedy clip show because the host reminds us of him and his sense of humour. We have decided to be more involved in our local community and volunteer for shifts at the local community kitchen because sometimes a smile and “how are you?” goes a long way when someone is dealing with things.
We also make a yearly donation to mental health and support services through the United Way campaign on base every year.
I’m going to up my game. For every comment made on this post I will donate an extra 1$ to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention // here // I also strongly encourage you to do something in your community as well! Donate your time, money or know-how. Get involved!!
So yea, a year on we’ve survived and thrived. Not everyone can do that, and I chalk it up to the power of a strong partnership and my inability to let anything slide. Ask DH when you get a chance, we got through that first year because of each other.
The Canadian Forces offer several easy to access hotlines and services for members and their families. You can read more about them // here //
For members: Call for a confidential talk – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year 1-800-268-7708
For families: Call seven days a week, 24 hours a day 1-800-866-4546
If you or someone you know is dealing with loss from suicide, suicidal thoughts, or is a suicide attempt survivor there are many resources available through the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention // here //
If you’re looking for some other Canadian blogger perspectives on #Bell Let’s Talk Day:
- The Unfit Dad with Postpartum Depression Stigma
- Vanessa Francis with Why I think My Husband Took His Life
- The Sweetest Occasion with Let’s Talk Depression