Holidays suck, birthdays suck, and even an anniversary can suck. Special places and areas can suck...
...Or do they have to?
At first they will, but they don't have to forever. They can be full of great memories and fun stories.
Just like anyone else, I don't want to lose my memories and the times I've created with my brother. Everything from the laughs, arguments, Christmases, to the fights, birthdays, and just the brotherly chats. There are times I try so hard to hold on to them. At times I feel like they consume my thoughts and cloud my judgement. I feel like I have to store them in my mind and keep them there. When "storing" my memories, I also think of all the new memories, I and my family, are making without him. It's tough to know that he won't be around and will miss out on so much in life. This leads to anger, frustration, pity, and sorrow.
My family, especially my brothers, have a weird sense of humor. I understand that how we've coped with this tragedy can make others feel uncomfortable. Sometimes that was a relief mechanism and other times it was a protection mechanism. You never know how someone will respond to hearing about a suicide. Everyone has different beliefs and opinions. Even trying to share those memories was tough. I felt like I could see the expression on someone's face and sense the uncomfortableness if I started to talk about Sean, even if it was just a memory.
It took me a while to realize that uncomfortable feeling in the conversation was more on my part. That was sensed by others and they started to feel uncomfortable. I had to get over this fear and apprehensiveness to share his stories. It took a while to realize that those same memories don't have to go anywhere. I don't have to lose them, and I've realized they can possibly save a life. I've also noticed that now my memories about Sean will be reliving our past through stories, remembering the good times and bad times. My new memories will be with old friends that knew him and with new friends that didn't know him.
I've learned that storytelling is a great way to cope and move forward (not move on). I've learned to start with light and short stories. It's almost like testing the water, but you're also letting others know it's ok and they don't have to walk on eggshells around you. It'll also allow you to manage your own emotions. You can tell a certain story 100 times and 99 times you are fine, but that 1 time can trigger emotions. Starting off light and short allows you to manage those emotions. But remember, emotions are what brings stories to life and create positive and new memories.
On the flip side, to support someone who has lost a loved one: you don't have to have gone through the same thing in order to help and be there for them. Just listen! The stories will help the person cope and feel better. Storytelling is a sign of opening up and coping. They are starting to trust and looking for a way to help themselves.
Just remember, your past memories ARE NOT all you have. Create new ones with those you hold dear by sharing those memories with the living!