Throughout my journey with grief and depression, I journaled. I wrote down prayers, snippets from articles and books I read, thoughts captured with paper and pen during times of introspection, and dreams. Below I share some of the items I still find profound in one way or another. Maybe their impact was meant just for me, but perhaps gaining insight into the thoughts of one who suffered can be a help to others, as well. We all can learn from each other.
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I read an article in Good Housekeeping magazine about a woman who had lost her 12 year old son to suicide, followed by the death of her second husband from drowning in a work-related accident. She talked about returning to the scene of where these tragedies occurred in order to feel the pain of them. Her comment was, "You have to make it hurt so badly that you can heal from it, or else it will fester." (Judith Scruggs, GH 8/04)
I found her comments very intriguing. For nearly 20 years I had avoided feeling the depth of the pain related to the loss of my two children, and here I was; emotions festering and poisoning me from within. I was struck squarely between the eyes because I knew I had to go back to the point of trauma to find my healing. No, I couldn't physically go back to the rooms where Sarah and Matthew had died, but I had to go back emotionally to the point in time where my psyche and spirit had been so traumatized. Something had not been accomplished during those times which had now produced unholy fruit in my life. I had to go back to the root.
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The following is a letter I wrote during a weekend conference I attended. The conference was all about becoming free- free from our pasts, free from wounds, free from unforgiveness, free from whatever bound the particular individual. If I remember correctly, our assignment in this group was to write a letter either asking forgiveness, or granting it to anyone we had hurt, or who had hurt us. I couldn't do it. I sat with my favorite pen, staring at the flowery piece of stationary before me. As others began feverishly composing volumes, I fiddled with my pen. Feeling the eyes of the group leader on me, I gradually turned and began writing- not the assigned letter, but one of my own instead. I think it speaks for many who walk through the dark halls of depression. I hope it speaks to you.
"To whom it may concern~
What is this place, and how did I get here? Did I ask to come here, or by some action or failure come here as penance or punishment? Why was I chosen to visit this place? Would not death have been a better place; away from the constant bearing down on my heart and mind- a pressure from which I cannot find release. There are times I seek to find the exit, to find my way back to where I used to be, but it seems that all roads back have been erased- they no longer exist, and all roads forward do not seem safe. I am stuck in a place where there seems to be no escape; no solution, no hope. Any option I have would appear to lead to more pain and harm. Even though life is miserable where I'm at, the prospects of change seem bleaker, so I stay; frozen if it were, in this den of darkness.
I used to know happiness and peace- life was worth waking up to everyday. Now it seems as though that was but a mist, a dream; something that allowed me to get this far in life. Did it ever really exist? It seems not.
The brightest spot in my life is my son. He is my pride and joy; a source of continual happiness and a reason to go on.
People tell me that there is a way to get back to a place of peace, contentment, and happiness, but it will take work and time on my part. Most days I feel too tired and exhausted to even think about the effort. It, too, makes me lose hope. What if I am unable to get there under my own strength? Will everyone pass me by, or will there be a "good Samaritan" who will stop and help me on my journey? Do I have to do this alone?
Somehow I need to drop my baggage alongside the road so the trip will be easier and less burdensome once I do find my way; but even the baggage seems to be something I can't let go of.
Somehow I see the baggage as a part of me, not just something I carry. So if I give it up, I will be losing a part of me.
Today I'm at the crossroads- no road to turn back on, and the roads ahead and to the sides are dark and unsure. So I continue to stand until I can find the courage to take a step forward, or until the weight of my baggage causes me to crumble and fall."