The last two weeks have been a series of trials that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We have been rocked by two suicides in as many weeks, followed by funerals and memorials, and all the other work and events that surround death.
At one point last week I turned to my husband and said, “Even death requires its own special bureaucracy…” It has been….weird.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was especially close to any of the victims, but I am close to those that were closest to them. In some ways that meant that I was only there as support. In other ways, it meant that my own feelings had to take a sideline. It has been one of those situations that have been difficult to navigate because there has been no real place for me in this, I have no real role.
It’s awkward to be in that position. I felt a little like a ghoul sometimes, an observer of others grief, feeling only a mild sense of sorrow of my own. I feel like I have the very beginning of an understanding of what life may be like for those on the autism spectrum: Observing the very strong feelings and reactions of others and not being able to feel those same feelings. And in case there is any question, I say that not to make light, but to say it is an awkward space to occupy, and it opened my eyes to the daily struggle of those that live in that space. I appreciate anything that can help me understand others journeys.
As for writing, I managed to grab keyboard time through the first instance, as they were simply geographically closer and in familial terms, more distant. The second death was both geographically farther away and closer in a familial sense. That demanded more time, both in support and in driving time. I have done no writing since last Wednesday.
There was a little time on Saturday, but I just….couldn’t.
Mentally descending into an imaginary world was the last thing that I wanted to do.
The why is more difficult.
The bald truth is that writing is an emotional sport for me. Being emotionally drained makes writing, for me, nearly impossible. And I have to step back and acknowledge that the last two weeks have been draining. I have expended tremendous emotional energy supporting the grieving processes of others. Add to that the natural exhaustion of being an introvert forced into a week of constant socializing? There’s just nothing left in the tank.
I don’t have any tried and true suggestions here. I don’t have the experience to fall back on. But, I think I have a plan. I’d like to share that and then report back later this month on what I’ve learned.
1. Write this post. Sharing things like this can be cathartic. Just getting the words out to those that care, but aren’t in the depths of their own grieving? Nobody wants to hear my petty whining about the toll this has taken on me and my writing in real life. It feels even petty and selfish to me in a way, but here it is.
2. Privately write through my own feelings. While I didn’t have a close relationship with either of the deceased, there are still some feelings that need to be processed. I need to be gentle with myself. There’s some anger and frustration and confusion to be dealt with because of the events surrounding these deaths.
3. Start writing. I can’t put it off indefinitely. Not if I want to make this my full-time work. Life goes on. While I don’t want my fictional world to be overtaken by the tragic events we have waded through these past two weeks, I have to keep working. I am hopeful that dealing with actual events in other writings will allow me to get into a better headspace when it comes to my fictional world and characters.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for as long as it takes. I have to remind myself that this is a process and I can not put arbitrary ‘done’ dates on it. These feelings will pop up, probably less frequently as time goes on, but each time they do, I need to allow myself time and space to process.
Side note: Depression sucks. It’s a real thing. People with depression are ill. I look at it this way: When you get sick, when an organ gets ill, you take medicine, and there’s no shame in trying to heal that organ, that body part. Except for brains. People are ashamed when their brain, which is an organ in your body, gets sick. They won’t accept treatment, they don’t take meds, because too often people tell them to just “be happy,” or that they need to “just get over the sads.” But, that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Please, if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, talk to someone. Don’t be ashamed to seek treatment.
Please, if you are thinking that ending your life would “just be better for everyone,” YOU ARE WRONG. Suicide is never the answer. Please, I am begging you, please call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone. They’re available 24/7 and they GET IT.
Be kind to one another out there. And, most importantly, be kind to yourself.