Does the person live on with you in some way? In what ways does this happen?
Especially when the season changes, I think about my friend
I can remember all aspects of my brother. He was more than bi-polar. He was incredibly intelligent, he saw things that others were not attune to, he was creative with writing and playing music. He was sensitive to those who are marginalised and would often bring home a homeless person for dinner and a sleepover. I have pictures of David everywhere and want him to continue to be part of my life.
I sometimes wear my husband’s sweater; this gives me comfort and has me remembering the happy times.
I wear my Dad’s watch, this helps him be close to me every day. Sometimes I think about the places he may have gone to wearing the watch.
Sometimes, especially when the season changes, I think about my friend.
Whenever I am with my sister she mentions him in some way, and we are able to become closer through our stories about him. I also think about John when I am talking to students at the middle school where I work when they are talking about a loved one who has died. It has helped me become a better listener.
I put together a family fun day at David’s favourite amusement park, Belmont Park, on his birthday and asked my family members to join me last year.
I used to say that my brother was born with a ‘forest’ on his shoulder. He had issues and a label of being anti-social, but he wasn’t. He cared about nature and preferred his own company. He was the silent type. My memories are of sitting quietly with him in the bush. He would put his hand in the water and say, ‘See how cold that is?’ He appreciated the environment. He was at all the anti-war moratoriums. He felt so strongly that people should not fight with each other. He used to write to newspapers. He was a brilliant writer. He would read me his poetry and it was beautiful. It was ‘way out there’. He was ‘before his time’. Profound. It was as if he could see through humankind. I remember all these things. He lives on in this way.
In my work as a counsellor I have found it extremely important to share the struggles and pain and be able to in some ways use David’s story as a way to incite more action in the community and from others. Other parents and family members have more openly talked with me about their fears, struggles and experiences.
My son lives on in my memories, which are prompted by little things that I see, do and hear. This is nice for me, it’s like he is still there in his own way. He also lives on in my other sons, his brothers. In them I see a part of him, a piece of him. For one brother it’s his looks that are a reminder to me; whereas it is the actions and mannerisms of his other brother that are a reminder.
If your loved one was still here, what would stand out to them the most in how you have carried on?
She would be proud that I didn’t let despair get the better of me day-to-day
I think she would be happy for me that I made it; she used to care for me. When I was in the army and had a very bad time, she understood and cared. We were there for each other. She would be happy that I made it.
He would notice that I have tried my best to carry on despite it being so incredibly hard. That I tried to hold onto things that were important to him in raising the children, learning a foreign language, completing university, reading, and keeping healthy.
My Mom would notice that I held onto hope after she died, and that I am in my first meaningful relationship with a man. She would be proud that I didn’t let despair get the better of me day-to-day.
What my brothers would say Aunty Bea Edwards
They would say, ‘We taught her well’. They taught me how to care, how to respect myself. They would never give up on me. They would never walk away and say I was not worthy. They proved that by staying with me when I was in trouble.
My brothers taught me compassion: self-love, how to fight on in the world, how to keep growing, that you can’t be stagnated. My brother would say to me, ‘Don’t end up like a stagnant pond!’
I go back to the times by the creek, when my brother would pick up the stones and say, ‘Feel the ancient!’ He would say, ‘Feel those stones. We get worn like that.’ That’s why he liked the stones. They were always smooth and bright.
I still go back to the creek, down to the water. I still hear my brothers’ words.
I have kept my loved one’s memories by writing prayers. These prayers are a recognition of each life; an acknowledgement of their significance while on earth; an acknowledgement of their pain which led to suicide and their courage to stand alone; an acknowledgement of what might have been; and lastly a prayer that they know peace in death and the afterlife (if there is one). It is through these prayers that I keep my loved one’s memories.
What do you imagine would stand out for them in how you have cared for those whom they love?
Building on my love for his brother and sister
I think she would be happy I kept connection with her mother, she did love them, her family, and cared for them, and they love her.
Holding onto and building on my love for his brother and sister and the closer relationships I have with them. Also, my greater love, compassion, understanding of, and assisting with problems in their lives. I think that’s what would stand out to him.
That I kept on writing – although largely for myself. We had talked about writing, and she had showed some interest in what I had done.
I think he would be pleased to see me be reconnected with his mum. He had tried to talk to her for a few years about reconnecting with her siblings, so I think he would like it that we have.
What do you imagine the person would want to say to you when speaking about these things?
‘I’m proud of you, Dad!’
‘I miss you.’
‘I wish I could have held on.’ ‘Keep going.’
‘I’m sorry times a million.’
A Dream by Rafis Nin
My dad’s death made my grieving very difficult for me. My dad ‘killed himself’ around the time I turned 11 years old. He had ‘chosen’ a taboo death—suicide. This timing of his death was hard for me. I had lost my dad at that age when a boy begins to need his dad the most. My family’s silence and the ‘town’ people’s whisperings and negative comments had made his passing ‘something’ I was happy to ‘mourn and let go’, and not to talk about.
But recently I have remembered a dream that I had during the first week of my dad’s passing. It was a dream in which my dad came to visit me.
About this ‘dream’, my mum said that I was talking aloud and moving my hands while I was dreaming. She said I was just having a ‘bad dream’ as she woke me up! But to me it was not a bad dream. In this dream, my dad had come to visit me; he showed up in his full military shining uniform and stood there in this perfect surrounding light, looked at me in the eyes, and then waved and smiled quietly, peacefully, at me.
I took his waving then as he came to say ‘goodbye’ to me because my family suggested this was what it all meant. It made sense then as he did not have a chance to say goodbye to us as he died alone in another city.
Now, however, all these years later, I am starting to think differently. Perhaps my father knew how I was feeling then, grieving his sudden loss and trying to make sense of it all. And maybe he had chosen to come to say ‘hullo again’ to me that day when he stood there looking at me in the eyes and waving at me. Maybe, I had mistaken his hand waving gesture for ‘goodbye’ when in reality he was just waving a big ‘hullo again, my son.’
Remembering my dream of his visit in this way brings me comfort and it reminds me that he did not abandon me that day. He loved me enough to come back to visit me, and to say ‘hullo’ to me in my darkest hour.
If you are need of assistance:
If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance. If you are within Australia, please refer to the following support services. If you or someone near you is in immediate danger Call Emergency Services on 000; or Go to a hospital emergency department.
If you are outside Australia, you can find helplines in different countries here: findahelpline.com