When you go through a tremendous loss, it's very difficult to see how you can live the rest of your life without that person. Where do you start, where do you go and what do you do?
All around you, everyone else's life seems perfect. It hasn't changed. Your friends can take moments out of their day to be with you, yet they still get to go home to their same family, same routine and same life. What do you do when your world is turned upside down and inside out? How do you move forward when unexpected devastation changes your life forever?
I knew that people meant well. Some of the comments made with good intention would actually stun me and leave me without words as I was experiencing the sudden loss of my husband. What type of person would ask a grieving mother of three questions like this:
"Why would your husband do this to you and your kids?"
"How did he do it?"
"At least it's not a divorce, a divorce is so much harder."
"I lost my mom this year, she was 85 and passed in her sleep. I know how you feel."
"Is this the first time he tried to kill himself?"
An ignorant person would be the one to ask these questions, and through time, I began to realize they haven't been through what I had; they hadn't experienced this type of loss, therefore they certainly couldn't understand it.
I had a difficult time going out in public. Driving my car, I didn't want people to see me out. I definitely couldn't engage in conversations that made me smile or laugh. What did I have to laugh or smile about? The worse part was when I saw people point, knowing that they were talking about me or my situation. When I heard people whisper, "Her husband is the one that killed himself", my heart broke even more.
People changed. Family that once came around, soon stopped. Friends that were our friends as couples, were no longer close. Business relationships ended. Why was this? Was it too hard? Did they blame me? The losses were significant all the way around. Being forced to live this new life with so many changes and so much loss, disappointment and grief was not how I ever imagined my life to be.
However, I changed. I stopped looking for others to make me happy. I found the happiness within myself. I found so much gratitude with everything that I still had. Once I did that, I discovered contentment. What a beautiful gift contentment is. I took each challenge and plowed through, making the best choices I could for me and my kids. I listened to my heart and my gut rather than words from people who chose to be involved when it was convenient for them. I let go of toxic people and welcomed loving and supportive people into my life. I made mistakes along the way; I hurt people and made some really poor choices, yet each and everyone has brought me to today.
Today, I am grateful. Through this journey I have found people that love me for who I am, and I have been able to let go of the ones that didn't. My kids, who have endured things I wish upon no one, now have courage, strength and know the true meaning of unconditional love, such beautiful gifts to hold. Most importantly, I understand. Life brings about many difficult paths, but how we walk down them and who we walk with will lead you to where you're supposed to be, but remember, choose your path and who you walk with wisely.
by Vonnie Woodrick
About the Author
Vonnie Woodrick created i understand in 2014 in loving memory of her husband Rob who lost his battle with depression in 2003. Vonnie routinely provides speaking engagements to private organizations and community groups throughout the year in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and encourage education about mental health. Learn more about i understand's "Love Heals" Lecture Series.