In 2010 my 20-year old son (my only child) died by suicide. His death, what led up to it, and its aftermath have been quite a journey. I have been healing since.
First, it was the writing. The writing was important for several reasons: In naming my experience, writing about its parts, describing the unbearable, I gained a kind of clarity at a time when nothing in my world seemed to make sense. I also needed to record all the details of my son’s too short life for fear that the trauma of losing him would result in my forgetting.
People grieve in all sorts of ways. I didn’t want to hide from my pain or put it off for some other more convenient time. There wasn’t going to be a more convenient time. Plus I knew that if I didn’t confront what was happening to me in the moment, it would hide and fester and grow into a bigger monster than it already was. I identified my feelings – deep sorrow, rage, guilt, relief, abandonment and others – so that I could face them, move into them, and live them.
Ultimately, there came a moment (or perhaps a series of moments) that I can only describe as radical acceptance. “Here’s the deal,” I said to myself, “Your son is dead and he’s going to stay dead. You’re still alive and even though you want to die, you’re not going to. So what do you want to do about it?” Writing helped me organize my befuddled thinking and identify some answers.
Here’s the funny thing about that radical acceptance, also known as: being with what is: I re-familiarized myself with my surroundings, I began to pay very close attention…to everything. I began to notice the infinite details, which allowed me to see the world differently. It wasn’t just a place of loss and pain; it was a place of exquisite beauty too. So I began to photograph this.
I write and I take pictures. This is my life now. I hope that you are moved in some way by what I’ve chosen to share with you.