Note from Noelle: Tribe, Terese will be sharing more of her story that is not often talked about— mental illness and suicide— my job is to give a VOICE to things that are difficult in a POSITIVE and uplifting way— this post does just that, it is the story of a Mother’s triumph over unexpected circumstances that life dealt her. She is truly a WARRIOR of the highest degree and I hope that you will be blessed by reading her words. I was.
I recently had a conversation on Instagram with someone who had commented on a meme I read. The meme posed the question, “Don’t you hate having flashbacks of things you wish you could forget?” My mind automatically went to my husband’s suicide. Flashbacks happen to me, often. They’re very real which is why my daughter’s and I moved out of my marital home after he died. Flashbacks, nightmares, my girls dreaming he was going to walk through the front door, were all very real things. With my good intentions, I posted a comment, which I rarely do, saying “Yes, I do hate those flashbacks. It’s very painful.” My phone immediately sounded a ding with a response that said, “Deal with it, move on. It’s that simple. ” I had to digest that for a few minutes because I couldn’t believe someone could give such a simple response. I’m not one to give knee jerk reactions but I had to respond explaining that it’s suicide trauma that I suffer. It’s kind of hard to just deal with, and move on. It’s really not that simple. She quickly apologized for my loss and wished me well. Thanking her, I recognized the good intentions, but the comment lacked a little depth and consideration for what people might have gone through. Both sides, both points, well taken. We moved on.
I have found suicide is not a comfortable subject. It’s one of those things that is often taboo to speak about. People don’t know how to respond or have a conversation about it. Most of the time people don’t think I’m widowed. Although sadly, I see more young widows, with pressures of society being too much stress for a husband to handle. I’m a single mom with two kids and it’s very often assumed I’m divorced. Being divorced and widowed are entirely different. My children are often given something to give to their Dad. I still get mail addressed to “us”. I’ve had questions about my divorce schedule only to find out I have my kids 24/7. There is no break. I’ve had people say nothing to me at all because it was awkward, and they didn’t know what to say. I’ve been told, “you may find someone, you may not.” All good intentions, gone bad. I’ve learned to accept that people just don’t know what to do or say sometimes. They say the wrong thing, unintentionally, or they say nothing at all. It’s my job to be comfortable in my own situation so I can put others at ease. I can easily say my husband committed suicide, and after the gasp and, “I’m SO sorry”, I say thank you and we move on. It’s exhausting though sometimes. I recently had someone ask me a question about my husband in front of my girls and they cringed. It’s funny the presumptions we make.
Thinking about the initial post about flashbacks, fears, etc, the amount of stress a widowed parent holds on their shoulders is immense. I am NOT negating the fact that we ALL have stress, but I have fears that divorcees may not have. If something happens to me that’s it. There is no going to live with Daddy. I am the sole breadwinner. My every move will affect my girls and I have to make sure nothing happens to me. Of course I can’t live in a bubble, but I’ve tried to which is even more stressful. Covid hasn’t made it easier.
Comments I’ve gotten have really made me be more aware of the people around me. I try being careful not to blurt something out of my mouth. I try not to assume, ask personal questions, or make judgements by what I simply see. We really don’t know what people are going through and at the risk of sounding cliché, we haven’t walked a day in their footsteps. I’m here to tell you, If you don’t know what to say, you can just say, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. I believe at the core, most people have good intentions. If we live by the general rule of being kind and thinking of others, maybe we won’t make as many slip ups with our mouths. Being kind is the number one rule in our home. If you’ve been offended or hurt by others regarding your situation, whatever that may be, remember that good intentions gone bad are still good intentions! I’ve learned to let go of a lot, and not have expectations that everyone knows what I go through. That way I’m not disappointed. We all slip up, but I believe for the most part, people mean well. I don’t let social media bring me down. I keep it to rainbows and unicorns.
Use it to better each other, uplift, and learn from other’s experiences! We can make it through another day!
You can see the start of Terese’s story here: