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Missing Dan: Being a Suicide Loss Survivor is an Endurance Test

A year ago today my world turned upside down. I received a phone call that changed my life forever. That phone call put me in the position of having to tell my children that their father had passed and coming to terms with it myself was heart wrenching.

How do you accept the fact that the only man you’ve ever loved or have ever been loved by is gone?

I was just 14 years old when we met, 29 years of ups and downs. Dan had been the

reason for so many smiles and sadly, many tears. He was an equal mixture of - My Superman and My Kryptonite.

This past year has been like an endurance test with endless mountains to climb. I’ve watched and cried for loved ones struggling to overcome addiction, depression, and anxiety. I’ve been battling health issues and financial stresses. I also have lived, better yet, I “survived” through all the firsts– my first birthday without Dan, our first holidays without him, his first birthday without him here, our anniversary, the kids birthdays, our first grandchild’s birth, etc…

Then there is today – the first annual reminder of one of the most traumatic days of my life (there must be a better word for it than “anniversary”?!). This is the final “first”.

The experience of suicide and grief is unique. I learned that no one can really

understand how I feel, nor will I understand how anyone else does. In my mind.. I had this huge open wound that everyone should have been able to see and know that I was in pain. I was struggling. I needed everyone around me to be kind but in reality to everyone else- I looked fine.

The traumatic loss of a loved one through mental health illness, an addiction, and suicide left me with a deep wound inside that only I can feel. I have accepted that it will never fully heal. The other half of me died and a part of me died with him.

There were a lot of days when I didn’t think I would survive the chaos in my mind but with the love and support of my family and friends, I did. I continue to survive. I am very blessed. I have incredible people in my life who are always there for me (learning to ask for help is something I’m still working on).

Loving and losing Dan has taught me so much. It taught me the intense strength I have within myself and the storms I can weather. It taught me the power of love from family and friends. Most of all it has taught me to embrace life so that one tragic loss of life doesn’t mean others will have to be lost too.

As my journey continues, the wound is still there and the grief still stings, but it also reminds me how precious life is. It reminds me that my life is worth living, I truly believe Dan sent us my beautiful granddaughter to remind me of that every time I look into her eyes.

Thank you to everyone that has been patient, kind, and stuck by my side to help me survive this past year.

I love every single one of you with all my heart.

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