It’s approaching the 11th year anniversary of losing my late husband, Rob, to suicide – Dec. 24th or 25th, 2000. So much has transpired since that time, much questioning, acceptance, every emotion possible, lots of learning, healing and discovering and developing new friendships with fellow loss survivors, attempt survivors and those who are suicidal.
Initially I had tremendous anger, not at Rob, but at what he did and the circumstances I was left to deal with. This is an important distinction to make as many loss survivors have anger toward their loved one, not the act. Anger can be very beneficial in the beginning, it gives you the fire you need to do whatever is necessary, it allows you to get things accomplished, but if left unchecked – it can also literally consume you. I remained angry for many years, felt totally justified in my anger and would recite to anyone who cared to listen, “if you’d gone through what I’ve gone through, you’d be angry too!”. I wore it like a badge of honour. My inner circle of family and friends were very concerned at how angry I’d become, I was ready to do battle at the drop of a hat. I kept telling them this too shall pass, but must admit, even I sometimes wondered if I’d ever stop being angry and return to the happier person I’d once been.
I’ve learned since my loss that a suicide loss survivor will never be the same again. You can’t be. You’ve experienced a shocking loss that nothing in life ever prepares you for, there is no rule book to tell you how to cope, grieve, let go and move forward. You keep hoping for the good ol’ days, when things were a lot happier, easier and life wasn’t so tumultuous. I now know that this type of loss changes you forever and although I’d have preferred to never have experienced a loss by suicide, I also realize that the new me – the changed me – is not a bad thing at all. I’ve had a lot of time to learn about myself and how to heal, much of that for me personally was by learning how to forgive.
There is much confusion about forgiveness. It is not something you do for someone else, it does not make what happened any less traumatic, but it does benefit YOU! I went several years in what I call “go mode”, plodding forward, doing the best I could all the while with my new BFF “anger”. I bought a relaxation/guided meditation CD one day and decided to lay down and have a listen. There was one segment in the guided meditation where you were to forgive anyone and anything that came to mind that was holding you back, something you’d like to heal from and let go of.
The exercise was to visualize yourself standing under a beautiful, cascading waterfall. To picture yourself underneath this healing, cooling water as it washed away all your fears, tears and pain. You were then to envision whoever you needed to forgive as standing right beside you, also under the cleansing waterfall. In my case, I envisioned Rob. I was new to visualizing, but did my best and could picture him standing there in front of me, looking straight at me but saying nothing. I made a decision then that I wanted to forgive him, not only for his suicide and the many repercussions that resulted from his passing, but for all his infidelities he’d had prior to his suicide that caused me such deep pain, betrayal, humiliation and did such damage to my self esteem.
I also chose at this time to forgive me too. To forgive myself for staying in a not so healthy relationship for far too long, for accepting less than respectful treatment, for allowing and enabling so many things. It was at this point that I noticed tears running down my face even though my eyes were closed. It surprised me as I rarely cried, but there they were! They were cleansing tears and although they caught me off guard, I felt a shift somewhere deep inside and knew I’d been able to begin the process of forgiving, and that is when so much of my anger left me. I felt much calmer.
I have used this CD hundreds of times, whenever I’m stressed out or unfocused, I know I can turn to this and it always works, I always feel calm, relaxed, centered and able to be in a much better place than when I started the CD. I have forgiven many times, sometimes Rob and I again, other times other people or circumstances. It has proven for me to be a very healing practice and one that I will continue to use.
I also had a dream and I don’t dream often of Rob any more. The dream was most unusual, we were getting ready to board a cruise ship, something I’ve never done. I was there with Rob and we were getting ready to board, when all of a sudden up pulled a car and out jumped his most recent girlfriend. I was shocked and furious and told Rob to get on the boat. Instead he walked to the car. I remember being very cognizant of all the pain, anger and fury rising up in me once again during the dream, I could feel how upset I was all over again. While still in the dream I decided to immediately go to that place of forgiveness that I’d done so many times before while listening to the CD to stop those feelings.
I put myself beneath that waterfall along with Rob, I forgave again and then it came to me to now forgive the most recent girlfriend, along with the many others he’d had affairs with. I felt immediate relief when forgiving Rob and myself, but came to a screeching halt when it came time to forgive the other women. I remember making a definite decision that NO! I was not ready or prepared to forgive the other women. At this point I awakened from the dream and realized that I’d been dreaming, laid there for a while to recall it and clearly remembered that I had chosen NOT to forgive the other women. I felt comfortable with that decision, but knew at some point I’d have to let that go too and forgive all involved.
I recently went to Germany with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and my son. Rob was born in Germany so it was nice for my son to visit his Dad’s homeland and see where his family was from. I’d been dreading the trip initially for many reasons, one being I’d become very distanced from Rob’s family, my choice and doing. I still saw them but very occasionally. So this was a trip to spend time getting reacquainted and see some wonderful sights and Christmas Markets. The trip was phenomenal, we got along very well and it was nice that my son got to spend some real quality time with his Oma.
We were nearing the end of the trip, staying in Munich at a beautiful hotel on Dec. 10th. Our hotel room was gorgeous, the nicest one yet. My son and I shared a room and we had very full days so went to bed quite early. At 3:45am I awoke and was lying in my bed and started thinking about Rob. This wasn’t unusual as we were in his birth place and were nearing the anniversary of his suicide, so I’m always thinking more about him this time of year. I started wondering if Rob could see us, see that his family was all together and visiting Germany and having a fabulous time. I then started talking to Rob, in my head, not out loud and asked him what he thought of it all. I decided to once again do a forgiveness exercise so this time I did not visualize the waterfall, I decided to get into the energy of forgiveness and have a conversation.
I told Rob I forgave him for everything, the infidelities, the ups and downs of our marriage, his mental illness and his suicide and for all that came afterwards. I then recalled his father had also had many affairs, knew how much that had hurt and impacted his family so I decided to also forgive my father-in-law. I’d always harboured resentment at his father for being such a poor role model for his children and in many ways blamed Rob’s upbringing for his infidelities as well. I then went on to forgive my mother and sister-in-law for all that had transpired since Rob’s death, all the things I’d felt they’d done to contribute to the decline in our relationship. I also chose at this time to forgive all the women Rob had had affairs with and this was a real biggie for me and I knew it. I said each of their names, for the ones I knew, I told each of them I forgave them. Then it came time for me to forgive me for whatever part I had played in any and all of the outcomes involved. I knew I too had contributed to not always doing the right thing, that I’d made mistakes too.
I then decided it was time to let it all go, to open my heart completely to be able to open up to being able to love someone again. This was a huge step for me. I said I wanted to let all the pain, hurt, resentment and anger go, to release it from my body, my heart and my soul. I admitted that I’d love to have a wonderful, loving, faithful man in my life again and that I knew the only way I could do that, was to let my old pain and anger go completely. At this point, I felt a huge twinge in my heart and tears came quickly once again streaming down my cheeks. The tears felt hot and I felt as though I was going to choke or cough, so I held the tears back. The tears started up again and this time I let them come silently without feeling like I was going to cough. This entire process probably took several minutes, I didn’t look at the clock, but I felt such a huge relief and release that I knew something had let go.
I then decided to get up, put my coat and slippers on and went outside on the balcony. It was quite cold and a very light snow was coming down. Everything had a fine white coating on it, not deep but just a lovely dusting. I looked out and saw all the roofs and steeples covered and this beautiful white snow sprinkling down. I remember taking a deep breath, realizing how fresh it smelled and just stood there for a few moments taking it all in. I knew something had shifted in me and it felt so good, I felt so light. I took a few more moments out there in the peaceful silence of the early morning and knew things would be different now. I went back in and climbed back into bed and had a very peaceful sleep for several more hours. I awoke feeling very refreshed and looking forward to the new day.
I share this story with you because there is incredible power behind forgiveness. I know for me it was instrumental and essential in letting my anger go so that I could begin healing. I also believe forgiveness comes in bits and pieces, you can’t let it all go at once, you must be ready and really wanting to let the anger go. I’ll admit that in the beginning, I was fearful of letting the anger go. It had become my ally, something tangible that I could count on and knew it would get me through. I also knew at some point I’d have to let it go or it would consume me and destroy me.
I know every loss survivor is at a different point in their journey of grief and healing. What I hope is that by sharing this story, you too shall realize that there will come a time when you are so sick of feeling so distraught, so filled with pain, anger and confusion that you too will make that decision to let it go so that healing can begin with you. I share my story in hopes that it will give you the knowledge and hope that one day you too will begin to heal. The loss will always be with you, but you will learn how to one day be able to remember your loved one and the many good memories you shared without feeling the intense pain. Grief truly is a journey no one can make for you, but you can learn ways of expediting the healing process just a bit sooner than you may have thought possible.
My heart goes out to all who have lost a loved one to suicide, as well as all those in such turmoil that they consider or have attempted in some cases, to end their lives hoping to end their pain. I wish each and every one of you a very peaceful Christmas and may 2012 bring you peace, love and healing.
Well I finally got back to my blog! I have been remiss in keeping up but have been extremely busy too doing suicide prevention work which I am so passionate about! I wanted to share with you all that I am co-hosting an upcoming World Suicide Prevention Day Radio Show which is all done online. The call is listened to through your computer, takes place on WSPD Sat., Sept. 10th at 12noon – 1pm EDT.
I am co-hosting with a good friend/fellow survivor April Cline who has kindly offered her blogtalk radio show to do this call. Both April and I have lost a loved one to suicide, April lost her young son Daniel and I lost my husband, Rob. Both our losses were in 2000. We met on Facebook through common interests and soon discovered that we also shared a common bond of suicide. We will briefly tell our own personal stories of who we lost and how it impacted our lives and how we got involved in suicide prevention.
We’ve got terrific speakers from the suicide prevention community. Our first speaker at 12:15pm EDT is Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. who is President of the American Assocation for Suicidology and she will be speaking about teen suicide which unfortunately seems to be on the rise. Michelle lost her sister just a few days before her 18th birthday. Our 2nd speaker is Mike Purcell, Founder of “Putting a Face on Suicide” and he will be speaking on suicide in the military. Mike lost his young son Christopher to suicide while employed in the U.S. Navy. Both co-hosts and two of our speakers are suicide survivors meaning we lost a loved one to suicide. Our 3rd speaker is Kenneth Hemmerick, who is Webmaster for the International Association for Suicide Prevention and he will be speaking on suicide in general. Kenneth attempted to take his own life over 25 years ago so he is offering the perspective of being an attempt survivor. All of us have been touched by suicide and it has impacted and compelled us in ways to get involved with suicide prevention.
I certainly hope you’ll be able to attend the call and I’ll provide the link for the Event Page as well as the LISTEN LIVE or LATER to the recording link for those who can’t make it on the 10th. I feel there will be valuable information and education shared by everyone on this call and it’s such an important cause that is so near and dear to my heart, that I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to do something personally to commemorate this all important cause and day.
Interestingly, Sept. 10th is also my wedding anniversary. It would have been my 34th had Rob remained alive. It used to be a very difficult day for me after he died, but I now look at it as a day I’m meant to do something with. It seems very coincidental that the very day of the anniversary also happens to be World Suicide Prevention Day. I’m not a big believer in coincidences, so I take it as a sign that what I do with prevention work was meant to be and having it be on this specific day is just further verification that I’m right on track – doing what I’m supposed to do.
I’ve been told many times that I should write a book, started this blog back in May 2010 and although nearing completion, I have not finished it as yet. I sometimes feel as though I’m spinning my wheels, being so passionate about suicide prevention and yet not being able to figure out a way to do it full time for a living. I’m doing it full time, just not making a living :). I’ve done suicide, suicide prevention and mental illness posts on my personal Facebook wall for quite some time. So often there are little to no replies or indications that anyone is really reading what I’m doing and then all of a sudden … I’ll get a private message from someone who has just been directly impacted by suicide, has seen my posts all along but not interacted. It is exactly those moments that spur me on knowing I can help them, either with comforting words of support, advice, referrals to resources so they can learn more or get help in their recovery.
I’ve also been encouraged for quite some time to create my own Facebook fanpage. I was reluctant as I couldn’t clearly figure out exactly what I wanted to do with this type of page, so I never created one but thought about it often and watched with great interest what others were doing with their pages. With this upcoming call, I realized it was time to create my page so last night Sept. 7th at 7pm I did create my fanpage entitled “Suicide Shatters” and my logo actually says “Suicide Shatters … Picking Up The Pieces”. It took me quite some time to come up with a name I was satisfied and happy with, I kept a word document and kept recording various ideas/names that came to me. One day the one I’ve gone with just came to me upon waking, it felt right, it described exactly what suicide does – it shatters you, your life and everything you’ve come to know.
When suicide is first experienced, you the survivor are usually in shock, immense sadness, sometimes anger, always left with unanswered questions and in a state of complete overwhelm. This is normal but such an unusual assembly of emotions that you’ve never dealt with before that it can leave you feeling very numb. When I first lost Rob, I went into “go mode” with all the many things you have to deal with to go forward, whether it be informing family and friends, arranging for a funeral or memorial, telling your children if you have them. It was good in a way that I kept busy, I was also very fortunate to have wonderful friends and family be there to help me in whatever way they could. I was amazed at how good and kind everyone was, they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork, and my normally quiet home with just my son and myself was filled daily with people coming and going.
Once the memorial was over, life sort of resumed but never to be the same again. I felt an intense aloneness that I’d not experienced before even though Rob and I had separated for almost 10 months. I still knew I’d be seeing him at our joint business, or I’d be hearing from him in some way or another, but now … in this new state … I knew I’d never ever see or hear from him again and that was quite unsettling and so very final. I did the best I could with what I knew, I went back to work trying to rebuild a business that by all rights should have been shut down. It was my only sense of normality and familiarity so I needed that at the time.
With time, life has a way of going on whether you like it or not, it just does. I had suddenly been thrown a curveball and had to recreate my life and every aspect by myself. It was a daunting task that I knew I’d get through, just didn’t know how exactly. Once things calmed down a bit, I was able to do some real self exploration, discovered self development/personal growth and absolutely loved it! I shut down my business 18 months after Rob’s passing and now whatever “normal” had been was no more. I gave myself permission to take a year off, regroup, rebuild and plan for what I now wanted to do.
Tried my hand at direct sales in self development, and although I loved the self development aspect, I hated direct sales and although deemed an independent business owner, I still had to comply with the mother company in many ways. Gave it a go for 3 years, failed abysmally and shut that down too after losing a lot of money and never making a dime. All of this was definitely life lessons, but I was getting very tired of learning more of what I didn’t want. I’m always looking for a plus or positive, so I knew I’d be able to use my knowledge one day when I got really on purpose and on track.
I’ve done a lot of thinking, still don’t have all the answers but I know one thing for sure. Suicide prevention is definitely my life purpose, my passion, my calling. It brings me to life and makes me on fire more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I have grown so much through this experience of suicide and have become a better person for it. The “Picking Up the Pieces” part of my fanpage logo represents to me what survivors must do. They must pick up the many pieces of their lives, whatever there is left of it, and whether they recognize it or not, they must go on and create an entirely new life for themselves and their children.
I watched an amazing TED Talk video just yesterday on Compassion. I have a lot of compassion and that has grown and become even more pronounced after the suicide. People ask me all the time why I do what I do? Doesn’t it drain you or depress you? I didn’t use to have a really good answer, I just knew that deep in my heart, it was my purpose to take what I’d experienced, learned from, learned to heal and move on and take those lessons to others in this same journey of being a survivor. The video from TED Talk explained so well how I felt about doing compassionate suicide prevention work in any capacity. She explained compassion as this: Someone who is cultivating compasson when they are in the presence of suffering, they feel that suffering a lot more than many other people do, however, they return to baseline a lot sooner. This is called resilience. Many think compassion drains us – but it enlivens us. Compassion transforms suffering.”
When I heard those words, everything made sense! It is exactly how I feel “enlivened” when working with other survivors, without actually getting attached to the outcome and coming back to baseline very quickly. Occasionally, a particular person and their story truly does rock me, but it is only for a little while, I take a break and come back even stronger. There is such a sense of being on purpose that I can’t explain. Although I’ve still not figured it all out, I have no doubt I will always be doing something suicide related, whether it be educating others about it, what they can look for and be aware of, proper respectful languaging around the topic of suicide, helping dispel the stigma that is so present and stops so many from reaching out when they truly need help and are feeling suicidal, or whether it’s a fellow survivor too traumatized to tell their story as they feel they will be judged. All of it feels right!
So as World Suicide Prevention Day 2011 approaches, I know like I’ve never known before, that I am completely where I’m supposed to be, doing what I love to do. The rest will work itself out – of that I have no doubt. Telling our personal stories is one of the most powerful ways we as human beings can communicate. Relating our experiences and educating others is how we learn and how we educate others who have not experienced what we have. The lessons we learn along the way are invaluable to others who have not yet arrived where we have and there is always someone/something new to learn.
I encourage any of my readers to please get involved and learn about suicide. It is everyone’s issue! Almost one million die by suicide each year worldwide, one every 40 seconds – think about that! You can’t afford NOT to be aware, you never know when it may be needed and you never know how just a kind word or smile can make someone’s day who is so down and may have lost all hope for a better day. Take a little time for others, get to know what’s going on in their world, show some compassion and you’ll be amazed at what can come of it. Suicide is preventable in most cases, by educating and reducing stigma it will save lives.
I hope to see you on the call! Remember – we all can make a difference – one person – one voice – one action at a time!
Here are the links for the call:
EVENT PAGE FOR RADIO SHOW: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=243703925668579
LISTEN LIVE or LATER to the recording: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aprilclineradioshow/2011/09/10/suicide-awareness-show
Facebook link for my fanpage “Suicide Shatters” http://www.facebook.com/pages/Suicide-Shatters/129349467164373
Had an amazing training called safeTALK which is a 3 hour training that prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. Most people with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers know how to use these opportunities to support that desire for safety. As a safeTALK-trained suicide alert helper, you’ll be better able to:
- move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid suicide;
- identify people who have thoughts of suicide;
- apply the TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe) to connect a person with suicide thoughts to suicide first aid, intervention caregivers.
I highly recommend anyone interested to take this course, I’ve come across many with direct and indirect suicidal comments/posts and it’s incredibly comforting to me that I now have a simple 4 step formula to help them get the help they need. This program and many others are created by a great organization called LivingWorks, I highly recommend you check them out too and see how you can help to raise awareness, educate, dispel stigma and reduce suicide. I’ve added them to my Resources/Links page on this blog if you’d like further information.
June – December 2003 – Life Goes On!
I’ve noted on my daytimer that I signed up for 10 personal sessions with a Pilates instructor and was also doing a major cleanse during June ’03. I really enjoyed pilates and had heard much about it, but never tried it. I must say it was extremely beneficial and within a very short timeframe changed how I was carrying myself, my posture was totally different, my shoulders were much more relaxed and I was standing straight and tall. I was trying to get myself back in shape to feel better.
I still had the boat to try and sell and had it power washed June 11th as it was quite dirty and didn’t show well in that condition. I decided to put in a small fountain in my backyard that year in June too and had the sprinkler system and outdoor lighting done as well which I really enjoyed. I didn’t make many notes in June.
July 1st I’ve noted that I let the government know that I wasn’t rehiring a housekeeper/babysitter and closed down my account for source deductions. I was at home now so there was no need. I’d also listed on Ebay my late husband’s gun reloading bench and equipment and within a very short amount of time had it sold! I was elated as this was a huge piece he’d had custom made, it was a combination that looked like a wall unit, but was geared for reloading. Problem was, my buyer was in the U.S. and getting shipping quotes was very difficult. Finally did get the quote but it was almost as much as the cost of the bench so that buyer didn’t pan out and much later, the man I’d done consignment with for the guns took it off my hands. It seemed to me that pretty much everything of Rob’s that I tried selling or getting rid of was very difficult.
July 2nd I’ve noted that Bridgestone/Firestone Head Office informed me they’d “lost” my original Letter of Credit. Keep in mind I’d been out of my business since Sept. 2002 and they were still delaying final closing of matters and still held my Letter of Credit, which I was personally on the hook for. This meant I had to call the issuing bank and tell them the original was lost, find out what had to be done in that case, found out an affadavit had to be done and it was fairly complicated and meant closure wouldn’t be so easy. I’ve noted “Frustrated – ate chocolate!” lol!
July 15th I was contacting my bank and arranging a refinancing of my mortgage and boat loan into one vehicle which made things simpler. The gal I dealt with at my bank was phenomenal and I loved dealing with her, she was very informed and knowledgeable, made it easy to understand and was just a pleasure to deal with. I finished off the week by heading up to the beautiful rental cottage with my son, brother, his partner and had a lovely meal at a restaurant nearby. My brother and his partner were wanting to buy a used small boat to run around the lake at the rental cottage, so we went for a run that weekend too. I stayed behind on the Sunday to do a final cleaning and instead of taking the usual 3 hours to get back home, it took 4 hours :(.
I was losing weight with all the exercise and cleansing and was feeling pretty good about it and had a lot more energy. It felt good feeling good about myself and I went to a girlfriend’s place after my pilates workout and because I’d not eaten enough, I almost fainted for the first time in my life. I still remember the insane feeling, how I knew something wasn’t right, that I was going down, yet managed to lay myself down quite carefully so as to not hit anything and hurt myself.
I didn’t pass right out, but was in quite a strange state looking out the door at the rear of the house knowing my girlfriend was out there, yet I couldn’t bring myself to call out for help. I laid there for quite some time contemplating what had happened, noticed how lovely and clean the glass was on her front door, thought how lucky I was to have not hit anything as I went down, thought I must eat more so that this wouldn’t happen again. Finally I was feeling a bit stronger and called out my girlfriend’s name and she came in right away and found me sprawling on the floor lol!
She was shocked to see my laying there, said oh my god what happened! I told her I started to faint but hadn’t gone right out. She asked me what I wanted and I asked for a glass of water as I didn’t feel quite ready to get up yet. She ran for that, came back with it, I sipped it very slowly propped up on my elbow and waited several more minutes before I attempted with her assistance to get up. Once I did get up, I was still quite wobbly so sat on a nearby couch for a bit until I gained my composure. Moral of the story is no matter how much or how quickly you want to lose weight, do it properly. I’d skipped my lunch to go to pilates which is a fairly intensive 1 hour workout and then immediately went for my visit and had a half glass of wine instead of eating something. Not a good combo :).
Late July ’03 I wrote my last and final cheque to my corporate lawyer to get things finished with Bridgestone/Firestone Head Office. That was a huge relief and accomplishment.
I didn’t make many notes in my daytimer in August, I think I was getting so sick of tracking everything that I only wrote notable things. On Thurs., August 14th, all of Ontario where I live and all of New York state had a huge power outage from 4:10pm until 5:30am the following morning. It’s amazing how reliant you become on electricity! No A/C so the house was hot, no computer, no radio, no TV. I couldn’t even get my car out of the garage because it had an electric garage door opener! So I got the candles going, tried reading a bit by candelight and had an early night. Saw on the news the following day once power was restored just how big an outage it was and how many had been very creative with the blackout, restaurants used candlelight, many had patios and because it was so hot, many people spilled out onto the streets and had fun. There was no big crime issue either which was wonderful!
I was still incurring expenses personally for my business and paid the corporate accountant a lot of money August 12th to get a final year end tax return done, something I’d been procrastinating on. I’d also spent quite a bit on computers during this year, both on my own and buying my son his own setup too. Monies were going out, but nothing was coming in and I was depleting what savings I’d built up.
September was back to school for my son and my birthday also falls in September yet I made no notes in my daytimer at all for this month. I had tried to sell the boat from Spring to Fall, had shown it many times, but as boating season came to another close, I still had the boat and no buyer and costs to keep it. I was desperate to get the boat sold and after talking to the manufacturer, decided it was worth a shot to have them sell it for me.
Very late in the season, Oct. ’03 I had to arrange for my boat to be taken from being stored on land to being launched back into the water so it could be driven across the lake to Neptunus. They took everything off the boat and put it into storage so when showing it, nothing would be on board. They painted the bottom of the boat for me as it was not in great shape and wouldn’t show well in that condition, and once again it had to be winterized and stored on land. Lots more expense, but with the hope they’d have better luck finding a buyer as it was one of their boats.
October to December 2003 was more of the same, no notes in my daytimer. Unfortunately, by not being consistent with jotting things down, it’s impossible to remember all these years later. I did note in my chequebook that I made payment to my lawyer to close out a courtcase with my house builder, so that was nice to have one monkey off my back :). So 2003 appears to have been a fairly quiet year for me which was greatly needed and appreciated ;).
It had been a little over a year since closing my business and 3 years since Rob had died. It was amazing how fast the time had gone.
I’ve had the privilege of connecting with really amazing people lately, many through my interest in suicide pre and post-vention, grief support pages, my Facebook profile page, etc. It touches my heart when I connect with a fellow survivor and we share our stories. Each one is as unique and different as the person sharing it, or the person lost to suicide and yet the common bond we share is enormous loss and sadness, and depending on where they are in their journey – often overwhelm.
I’m constantly amazed at how some deal with their grief and decide to make good come of bad. Some like myself blog, others have created fan/support pages, others educate by giving talks or holding conferences or training sessions. All of it makes a huge difference and I love seeing the individual creativity behind each project.
For my readers, I’d love to hear from you about what you have found has helped you? I love getting comments and feedback, but don’t often get the opportunity. I’ve been very remiss at keeping consistent blog posts happening, but hope to get to know how you’re coping, whether you are or not, what you’ve found to be a helpful support page or organization, what it is that would help you?
When I meet new people through doing my posts here or on my FB profile page, some really strike a chord with me and when that happens, I generally like to share them on my Resources/Links page of this blog. So don’t forget to check them out too!
March – May 2003 – Life Goes On!
March 2nd I’ve noted I had a phone conversation with the wife of my prospective buyers for my boat. She told me she was leary because she’d heard twice that the boat engines were rebuilt as per the mechanic who had worked on them. This was news to me as my late husband Rob and another Volvo mechanic Rob knew, were the only mechanics who had ever worked on our boat and I knew for a fact that neither engine had been “rebuilt”.
That’s the problem with gossip and hearsay. I asked her what mechanic had told her that and she wouldn’t say or couldn’t remember his name. I told her that my husband, a friend and another Volvo mechanic that my husband knew had done a repair on one cylinder and also offered to let her speak to the Volvo mechanic or friend, but of course she didn’t want to do that and refused to tell me who the mechanic she’d spoken to was. A repaired cylinder is not a rebuilt engine.
She then told me she’d listed her boat on Ebay, which was a strange place to advertise an expensive boat. She went on to say once they sold theirs, if mine was still available they’d consider it. At this point her story had changed entirely, initially her husband had told me and I’d made a very clear point to ask whether they’d have to have their boat sold first before buying mine, and had been given a resounding No!
She told me once again she wanted her deposit back, very adamantly told me she’d get it and to make no mistake about that. I told her I’d incurred at least $15K in expenses to date from the time of their offer, that their offer had been contingent on them getting financing, which they had. She came back with her bank not being willing to give them the extra $23K for the taxes triggered because they couldn’t secure normal financing and I told her that was not my problem, nor had it been covered in the offer.
She also mentioned her husband’s business was not doing well and that they now needed their boat to be sold before buying mine. It was pretty obvious to me their stories kept changing and I’d lost hope of the sale ever going through. At this point, I even made the offer to her of dropping the price of my boat by $25K which was even more than the $23K they’d needed for the taxes, and I knew they had been approved for $300K by their bank. She declined my reduced offer and she finished off once again telling me they’d be coming after me for the deposit and expenses and we left it at that.
Shortly after hanging up from that call, another broker called that I was also working with to see whether his client had contacted me. I told him no, the amount was far less than what I wanted but I’d entertain it all the same. This whole frustrating process of trying to get my boat sold taught me much about the boat sales industry, what people said and did were complete opposites, the importance of having proper paperwork and contracts, and to keep meticulous notes on everything. Still to this day – if I see any trouble in any of my dealings, I tend to keep track of it all as you never know when you’ll have to go back later and memory tends to forget many things.
In fact the buyers did come back at me, but many years later. This timeframe I’m blogging about today is March 2003. It was two full years later, March 2005 when I got served papers at my home for the deposit of $25K. I of course consulted with a lawyer, and I countersued the boat broker I’d started this whole deal with in May 2005 to cover all my bases. Lots of documentation was needed which I thankfully had, my chronological list of events was invaluable and after much dallying around, it finally went to discovery.
We were exceptionally prepared, they were not. Their lawyer was a cocky, arrogant little guy, tried to get my goat by bringing up the fact my husband had died on board so therefore that would reduce the value of the boat and tried pretty much everything he had to get his clients, my buyers, their deposit back. All of this of course cost big bucks both for me with my lawyer and what was needed to bring this to discovery, plus their lawyer too. In the end, we didn’t back down and they realized they were not going to win so decided we’d all settle without paying further monies. I was out an additional $8K for legal fees, I’m sure they were out at least that amount or more, but was glad it finally was resolved and over with. Learned a lot going through that legal process too and learned not to be fearful or intimidated by anyone, but it was one helluva expensive lesson – story of my life lol!
I guess I got tired of keeping notes because much of my daytimer is blank for April 2003. I did make a note April 14th that I’d called a local store who sold hunting, camping, shooting equipment to see if there was any interest in purchasing my husband’s reloading equipment and custom bench, so I was still trying to unload many of my husband’s things he’d accumulated.
I’ve noted May 13, 2003 “Got my Dell Dude!” which was a slogan Dell Computers were using at the time and I’d just received my new laptop :). With Spring coming, I was so looking forward to enjoying my newly planted backyard gardens. I didn’t discuss this on my November 2002 blog post, but I’d finally decided to treat myself to getting my empty backyard done. I had a big yard with only grass in it and had done the deck the previous year in 2001, so I now planned carefully what I wanted for gardens.
I’d consulted with a feng shui gardener and she gave me the 9 sections of my yard, the various plant materials and colours for each sector and I used her guidelines in conjunction with my landscaper. He went through all the suggestions, came up with a great plan also keeping low maintenance in mind and it all came together late Nov. 2002. So Spring 2003 was my first year to really enjoy the new blooming of everything and I couldn’t wait to enjoy it.
Was also having a horrible problem with a Mama racoon that made a nest for her babies in the attic section of my living room ceiling. It sounded as though they were chewing their way through the ceiling and I was worried they’d break through and just drop into my living room. May 22nd I’ve noted Mama was caught on top of the roof in a live trap cage. Then it was a matter of getting the babies out and that was a long process too. The wildlife people were so fed up trying to catch this racoon that they even offered to give me my money back but I told them not a chance! Get that animal and its babies out of there. Finally on May 24th Mama and babies were all safely transported away!
May 2003 I’d also ordered a few pieces of lawn furniture for my back deck. We’d bought some beautiful lawn furniture years prior for our old house, but some had been used on the boat when the new house had no place for it and unfortunately, quiet a few expensive chaises and chairs had gone overboard in bad weather while on the boat and I needed a few more things to even up the set. I cleared the shipment myself at customs and set up the new and old lawn furniture and was so thrilled with how my yard finally looked. I did up my 9 deck planters with flowers and remember sitting out on the first night it was all done, admiring everything, listening to the small fountain and wondered if Rob could see what I’d done and what he’d have thought of it all. I also felt sad that I had no one to share this marvelous backyard with or life in general.
Went for dim sum with my girlfriend on May 25th and noted “Nice!”. May 26th I received a fax from my old corporate lawyer that came from the Labour Board. Turns out two of my previous employees had filed a complaint with the Labour Board that I’d not given them enough notice before terminating them when I had my Firestone dealership closed down Sept. 2002. I was disappointed as they’d known as well as I how badly things were going, I’d let them take whatever things they’d wanted from my shop like a small fridge, stereo, other tools, etc. for free and sure wasn’t expecting them to come after me later.
Ticked me off, but figured it was just par for the course and they were trying to get more money out of me. Don’t recall what transpired, but remember nothing much and no further monies were given to them. I was disappointed and hurt they’d do this, but wrote it off to another of life’s lessons. The oldest of the two mechanics had been calling me and keeping in touch seeing how I was since closing the business, we’d gotten to know one another quite well, he’d share about his family, what was going on, etc. After getting this Labour Board complaint, he still had the audacity to keep calling but I no longer took his calls. I think even a year or two later he still occasionally called. Never could figure out why but didn’t care to find out.
May 29th I’ve noted that my son’s school Principal called and that they definitely wanted to downgrade him. She said he was vacant in class and had “quiet” defiance. She once again said she felt he was depressed and that she recommended counselling. My son said he’d rather go to public school than to be mocked and teased about being downgraded from College to Academy level. My son didn’t seem all that upset, but I sure was and was extremely disappointed and cried. My son told me he had no homework that night. I’ve noted “BAD DAY!!!” and hadn’t done a note like that in a long time so it must have been bad.
May 30th I checked his agenda where notes and homework were recorded and found out my son had lied and had hidden a note from his Literature teacher saying his book report was overdue. I asked him why he lied, and he said I was already freaking out! I told him better to have one freakout not two!
As I do this blog and look back at what was going on in my life then, I’m always amazed at how many balls I was juggling at once and kept going. It serves as a good reminder to me what I’m capable of and although I’m glad things have calmed down, I know there’s not much I can’t handle.
Was asked to do an article for the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) on what it was like to lose someone to suicide. I gladly accepted as I feel it’s so important to get personal stories out so people can better understand what it is like for those left behind, we’re known as survivors.
Hope once you’re finished reading my blog post here, that you’ll check out my article “Suicide Changes Everything” in the AAS Surviving Suicide Spring newsletter, and that you’ll also explore their website and Facebook page. They are one of the oldest suicide organizations out there, perform amazing training, research and raise awareness around the topic of suicide and prevention. (I’m so happy I learned how to do anchor text!)
December 2002 – Life goes on!
This post takes place in December 2002 and is two years since my late husband Rob died by suicide. It’s amazing to me as I look back at my journals and notes just how much had taken place in the two years since his death, and also how much more was still to come. I can’t stress enough how much journalling or noting in my daytimer helped me unload what was on my mind and I so encourage others to do the same, if not on a regular basis, just highlighting the more significant moments of your life, good or bad, so you can look back if you so wish and see what you’ve experienced, what you’ve accomplished and overcome – it’s invaluable!
I’ve noted that I hung my outside door wreath for Christmas and lit it with minilights and also had done outside winter/Christmas arrangements in my pots and lit those too. “Looks Nice!”. This was something I’d not done the previous year and was a sign I was feeling better and more inclined to celebrate Christmas.
December 2nd I met with my friend Peter who was also my life coach at that time. We met in Starbucks for a session and he told me to take control and teach others how to treat me, to not allow any negatives or put downs! He told me I didn’t stand up for myself and to just “do it!” (geez isn’t that a Nike commercial?) and that I’d find it very empowering. He made me aware that I was allowing some to talk to me that way and that I had to stop it. I was having a few in my inner circle who seemed overly critical and judgemental and who also voiced what they thought I should be doing more often than not.
I’d just returned from a wonderful conference the previous month, meeting new and exciting, like minded people which was something I really had needed and benefitted from. Peter knew many of those I’d met, gave me some lovely feedback that they found me to be a very nice lady, intelligent, etc. and that was so nice to hear! Really bolstered my confidence which had taken a bit of a beating over the past two years. He told me he intentionally stayed away from me in Cancun to see how I managed on my own not knowing anyone, he wanted to see what I’d do and to see who gravitated to me. I managed quite nicely, but was out of my comfort zone.
I discussed with Peter that my brother was very critical and judgemental but that he wasn’t aware of what he was doing. Peter replied “you can make excuses”. I wondered what the heck he was saying, so repeated that I didn’t believe it was intentional, and as he so often did, he repeated “you can make excuses”. Now I was getting ticked off because I felt I wasn’t being “heard”, but then it dawned on me what he was saying and I got it! It’s what I would do! I’d make excuses for someone else’s bad behaviour toward me, would adamantly defend they weren’t intentionally trying to hurt or upset me, and I’d just accept the bad behaviour even though it was to my detriment. Was quite eye opening for me! I’ve noted “GOT TO STOP!”.
Later that evening after returning, I got into it with another family member, my sis-in-law on the phone, was given a blast for not thanking my mother-in-law for the Christmas Advent Calendar she’d made my son for Christmas and then she hung up on me. I had simply forgotten, had too much on my mind, but made a note to call and thank her. Not a good close to the day and left me feeling very badly about myself once again. The timing certainly wasn’t lost on me as I’d been discussing just this sort of behaviour with Peter earlier that same day.
The next day I decided to confront my brother about how upsetting it was when he was so negative and critical toward me. I was a bit nervous, but knew I had to take a stand for myself and rectify it. Said I wouldn’t tolerate criticism and negativity anymore, that I needed to build up my self esteem not have it constantly knocked down, and surprisingly got an apology.
I’ve noted that I cried and I don’t cry often, but had been extremely emotional the past two weeks thinking about Rob often as Christmas approached. Pondered on where my life was and that I wasn’t happy. My brother called me later in the day to see if I was okay, and I was.
Peter had given me the task of taking a stand for myself with my brother and sis-in-law by telling them how upsetting it was when they treated me the way they had been, and to then report back to him once I’d done this with them both. Wasn’t easy as we so often are very close with family members and allow them to cross boundaries we wouldn’t allow with anyone else. I called Peter to tell him the outcome of my conversation with my brother and he said “Good Girl!”.
While all of this was transpiring, I was also doing battle with my house builder on getting some deficiencies repaired and a refund of overpayment for some upgrades that ended up not going in. They were always difficult to deal with as you could rarely reach them or they’d say they’d call right back and of course wouldn’t. I was given the run around being told I’d have to deal with someone else new, would have to go through the entire details again each time and it was frustrating. This had been ongoing since August 2002 to no avail.
December 6th I noted that I called my sis-in-law at 8:30am and we played telephone tag until 1:30pm. I was supposed to attend a Christmas event in her town which I cancelled as I was most upset over the call and her hanging up on me. When we did finally connect, I told her that I expected an apology for her going off on me and then hanging up. I also told her of my conversation with my brother. Her response was “what’s the common denominator?” meaning me, I said “Strike one! and I’m giving one warning only.” Noted we had a long talk for about one hour but think we’re okay. She called me back later too.
December 8th I’ve noted I got my Christmas tree up all by myself. I have a huge artificial tree that takes about 10 hours in total once assembled and decorated. I hadn’t felt like doing decorating at Christmas since Rob died, so this was a big step forward for me. My brother called and told me how proud he was that I’d done it by myself and I told him, me too! and thanked him. My sis-in-law called that same day and she too said she was proud of me too! I’ve noted “WOW! Supportive and positive in less than one week – it works!” :).
December 10th my builder got back to me saying they’d do a partial refund, but not the $3500 for the living room window upgrade. I called back and said I’m not agreeable to that. When we connected again, I explained their on-site manager had told me what I’d be getting as a refund, but it had been done verbally. Learned my lesson right there and then to NEVER do anything verbally, always get it in writing. The on-site manager was no longer employed with them, had left on bad terms so they couldn’t speak with him, but they mentioned that some gal in the office still was on good terms and would contact him. I was not a happy camper and could just see where this was going.
December 11th I’ve noted that I called the unethical boat broker asking where my spare boat prop was which was worth thousands. Looking back on this now from my notes, I sure piled a lot of crap into December lol! I eventually did get it back from the buyer who fell through, he’d taken it off the boat to his house :(.
December 13th my builder said they had in fact spoken to the on-site manager, that he said everything had been looked after as far as credits went. I told him I could fax him a copy of me questioning where the $3500 credit for my living room window was back quite a few months ago, I kept scrupulous notes. The builder was not budging, said they’d refund $1300 for two other items, but not the $3500 for the windows, and if I wanted the $1300 I’d have to sign a waiver for any further amounts. I clarified once more what the conditions were and then told them I’d contact my lawyer and get back to them.
The builder still had other outstanding deficiencies that by law had to be repaired outside of the money refunds. Got the run around on that too, but did get a few things done the week before Christmas.
I didn’t make note about Christmas this year and can’t for the life of me remember where I spent it or with who. I was just happy to have the holidays over and done with for another year, but do remember sitting in my family room a lot enjoying the tree and doing a lot of thinking. Had been quite an eventful December and year. I remember contemplating on what had transpired and was hopeful that 2003 would be my year.
As always, I’d love to get your feedback and comments on my blog. I welcome any and all suggestions!
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve done a post on here. Dec. 31, 2010 was my last post, so my apologies to my subscribers or those checking in. I have thought about doing a post for so long, yet somehow each day, as I tell myself I will do one today! – I don’t. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I procrastinate so much, they say there has to be a pay off, but I can’t figure it out. Do any of you procrastinate? How do you overcome it? I know with blogging that it’s essential to be consistent and yet I don’t. A little self-sabotage me thinks! Please share with me any tips you have to stop procrastinating by leaving a comment, I just love getting comments!
During the month of December 2010, I was asked to do an interview after joining a wonderful Facebook page called HealthyPlace. I was contacted by a producer, she’d read my blog and wondered if I’d be willing to be interviewed about suicide. I was thrilled as this was something I’d wanted to do for some time, to get interviewed or solicited for my story as it’s a great way to help get the message out about suicide.
HealthyPlace is a fantastic Facebook page, please take a look when you’ve got a moment to explore. Their website is chock full of outstanding information, blogs, Radio Shows/interviews via the phone like mine was, TV shows/cam interviews, discussion boards, etc. It’s a tremendous resource of great information on all things mental health related.
HealthyPlace.com is the largest consumer mental health site, providing comprehensive, trusted information on psychological disorders and psychiatric medications from both a consumer and expert point of view. HealthyPlace has active mental health support forums and chat, online psychological tests, breaking mental health news, mental health videos, documentary films, a live online mental health tv and radio show, unique tools like the “mediminder” and more. HealthyPlace won 3 prestigious Web Health Awards in 2010 and took first place at the 2010 eHealthcare Leadership Awards for Best Health Content and second place for Best Care/Disease Management site.
HealthyPlace.com also has extensive information on suicide for people considering suicide, as well as their family members and loved ones.
As I mentioned above, I was a guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health Radio show and you can hear my interview Life After Suicide on their website. Please do take the time to explore their amazing Facebook page and their website. Have a listen to my 15 minute interview which I’ve given the link to above and let me know what you thought of it as it’s my first interview, and feedback is so helpful. I’ve been told that over 500 have listened to my interview, but no comments have been left, so would be lovely to hear from you!
November 2002 – Life goes on!
I left off on my last post at October 2002, so I'll continue on from there. I'd mentioned the boat sale and the unprofessional and underhanded boat broker in Part #35. Thought I'd finished with him, but November 1st he called me. He started out by telling me my buyer was no longer wanting my boat. That the buyers’ bank was ready to cut the cheque but only payable to his brokerage firm. Told me I should let this "deal die" and sell to his other couple who were interested for possibly more money. He finished with "let's kiss and make up and close the deal". I listened to everything that came out of his mouth not believing a single word, but just listened to gain information and said very little other than I'd think about it and get back to him.
I had no intention of ever working with this slimeball again, but did want to talk to my buyer and verify if any of what he'd said was true. At this point I trusted no one, not the broker, not the buyers. I called my buyer and spoke to the husband, he said he had in fact been speaking with the broker, hadn't said anything and was very much still interested in my boat. He also told me the broker had been bad-mouthing me to him saying that my brother-in-law who put me in touch with this broker to begin with, had said I was a bad person (he used another word that was a profanity) that he (my buyer) should let the "deal die" (same words he used with me) and that he (broker) had other Neptunus boats to sell him.
I asked my buyer at this point to bring me the key from the boat, which he did. Some may find it strange that I myself didn't go get the key, but I really had an aversion to going to the yacht club because of what had happened there. Looking back, I should have just dealt with it myself and avoided the buyers and lord knows who else having access to my boat, but when you've got your boat for sale, access just like with a house for sale must be available whenever it needs to be shown, so this is why I gave the key to the broker in the first place, stupidly trusting he'd be honourable with it.
I live in Ontario, and come November it's getting very cold and all boats had been hauled out long before this. I was running out of time for the travel lift to be used to haul my boat and this was a pressing concern as time dragged on with this deal. The buyer kept assuring me the cheque would soon be coming, but I had to go ahead and incur further expense to haul the boat, have it blocked (put on stands) and have it winterized so things didn't freeze. My buyer agreed to pay the costs for hauling.
November 4th I called my buyer to see when the cheque would be ready. He said the man at the bank handling all this was off sick, but he'd find out if someone else could expedite things. November 6th my buyer (wife) called to tell me that their bank would not do the loan without using a loan arranger and that this triggered close to $23,000 in GST tax and that they didn't have that $23K because her property management company was purchasing two apartment buildings and they needed $450K by November 15th. She then asked me if I'd drop my price by $20K and to think about it and let her know.
I've noted "WHAT A DRAG! 12 weeks, $6K to my lawyer and payments on my boat loan and I should drop $20K??? I DON'T GET IT!!!" I was extremely frustrated to say the least!
Keep in mind my lawyer had been in touch with their lawyer and the bank and had been told nothing of this. This deal just kept getting more and more complicated, I had no idea nor did my lawyer what a "loan arranger" was, but turned out it was more or less a 3rd party loan company who would be guaranteeing the loan, not the bank. It was all very confusing to my lawyer and me, just felt like this deal would never go through.
Regardless I had to go ahead and get my boat out which I did November 6th. The winterizing took place at the yacht club all except the engines. November 7th the marine mechanic informed me my boat was now at the marina and would be hauled out November 14th and he'd then winterize the engines. The boat came out as scheduled on November 14th, the mechanic called to tell me everything went well and was done. I was never the one to handle maintenance, hauling, etc. with the boat, Rob had done all of that, so this was a first for me.
In the midst of all this chaos, I had a conference to attend. Not at all what I needed, but I'd paid for it and had to go. I arranged for my sis-in-law to stay with my son while I was away. I'd not been away anywhere in years, so although the timing was not good, in a way I looked forward to the change of scenery as I was going to Cancun. Treated myself to some new clothes which I'd also not done in years. Got home from buying my clothes and my girlfriend was there as well as my sis-in-law. I excitedly showed them everything, my girlfriend loved the stuff, but my sis-in-law was annoyed. She felt I should not be spending money on myself when I owed her Mom. My sis-in-law mentioned this to my girlfriend, who in turn told me and it sure dashed my moment of excitement, made me mad, hurt and guilty and really put a dampener on my mood. I finished packing and let it go.
It was a financial investment type of conference, I knew only one person who had introduced me to this group so for me, heading off to something like this really knowing no one was daunting. It was also my first trip flying alone and that was a bit daunting too. I managed well, didn't get to see the friend who was running the event much as he was busy most of the time. I went with the mindset that I'd meet a few people to hang out with for the week and as I always do, I did. Noted on November 15th that we all went to the nightclub on the resort and that I met Barry White! He often visited this club and he was so nice and down to earth. He sang a few songs, we were dancing to it and just couldn't believe it was happening for real! Fabulous evening!
I returned home November 16th and have noted "Snow – YUCK!" Everyone had done well while I was away. I'd brought back small gifts for my son, my sis-in-law and my girlfriend who was there when I arrived home too. My sis-in-law left that night, my girlfriend stayed over and we had a nice night chatting about what I'd experienced at the conference. It was a nice reprieve from all the BS with the boat, but reality was never far from my mind.
November 19th my buyer (wife) called to see if I'd considered dropping my price by the $20K. I told her no, I'd discuss it with my lawyer and get back to her. The following day, November 20th, a letter was faxed to my lawyer from my buyers' lawyer serving notice that the transaction is now at an end and please return the $25K deposit!!! At this point, my buyers had my boat off the market for 12 weeks so no others were shown the boat as we'd been told their loan had been approved.
November 25th I faxed my lawyer a list of my expenses as he'd requested. My costs incurred while their approval for financing had taken place were at $11K plus my legal expenses.
So November drew to a close, all the frustration, confusion and chaos that had ensued resulted in the boat sale falling through. I was exhausted by the process, was totally disillusioned with people once again and now faced having to deal with the whole mess the next season to get it sold. My hopes were dashed that I'd ever get this boat sold, I'd put so much energy, time and money into it and had been able to remain more or less positive throughout the entire 3 months, but now just felt defeated. I wondered why things had to be so damn hard :(.