by Shannon Smith, survivor and LOSS volunteer

This is the continuation of Shannon’s story published 3/21/2018. Read the first post here.

I learned to accept that outsiders of suicide will continue to have their own opinions/judgments.

I needed to focus on my own healing process, pick up the pieces of what was left of my life, and figure out how to continue to live in this different world without Brian. The process was difficult, and I lost many friends who couldn’t handle my situation, I lost my in-laws, who fell to the demon of blame. And I eventually figured out who I am, and who I wanted to be going forward. I learned the hard way that suicide is not something you get past or over, you simply get better of managing through the pain.

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of Brian, think of our life together, look at pictures, and sometimes wonder how things would have been now. I even drive by our log home to feel closer to him. I think about all the things that have changed in the world, like the Buckeyes winning a National Championship, and I feel sad that he/we missed out on this together. But I don’t live in those moments, that pain. I choose LIFE and happiness. There was a point in my healing when I decided I had to focus on myself and address each and every one of my feelings. I still had over half of my life to live, and I did not want Brian’s suicide to define me or my future. I wanted to be known as ME, not the wife of the man who killed himself. It feels a bit selfish to write this and celebrate my happiness, but it also feels good to know that I have achieved it.

Brian is a part of who I am, and my past, and he took a part of my heart with him when he left. This experience has made me realize many things about myself and about life in general. I live in the moment, I appreciate the things that are important, I avoid the hate/blamers of the world, and I focus on finding my next adventure. In a way, you could say I am living for both of us. I am experiencing things I thought I never would. I give back and try very hard to not judge people, because in the end, nobody really knows or understands what’s going on in someone else’s mind or heart.

Eventually I accepted the fact that I no longer live the role of Brian’s wife, and I did not want to be alone. I began dating again and found the most compassionate and supportive man. He understands my emotional baggage, lets me grieve when I need to, provides support and love, and accepts me for me with no judgment.

So, is there happiness and hope after losing someone to suicide?  For me there certainly is!  But keep in mind, it is a choice. I didn’t wait for it to happen, I fought for it, I worked for it, I chose it, and I made it happen. I hope other survivors read this and want that fight too. If you can’t do it for yourself right now, do it for the loved one you lost because they couldn’t.

You are not alone.  If you can’t do it on your own, ask for help.  If you have no one, I will be your someone.