*This picture was taken in June of 2011 when we were down in Tropic visiting them. Julie, Chrishel and I were taking a walk around town (it took all of 30 minutes to complete the grid) and Julie and I couldn't figure out these random little concrete tiles with various townspeople carved into them. Kinda like the Hollywood Boulevard I had visited as a teenager many years ago. Only not.
Why was she making specific plans with me just days before she did this?
Was it an impulse on a very dark day, or had she been planning a specific deadline for herself???
Why did she choose to hang herself at home, perhaps not thinking ahead to the fact that the sleeping family would at some point find her? Why not overdosing on a cocktail of pills?
Was her spirit aware of what was happening in the hospital? Did she have a choice at the end to fight or 'go home to the God who gave her life?'
Why do I feel guilt if I start to enjoy something? Chrishel wouldn't want me to feel this way, but knowing Tim and the kids are suffering so makes me hesitate to feel joy. Not so healthy, I know.
Why have I started having these blasted panic attacks since the hospital? What's up with normal mundane activities like going to Walmart or teaching group lesson that seem to trigger the anxiety attacks??? Why the heaviness in my chest, and feeling like I am running out of air and am I going crazy? What is wrong with me?
Is she aware of the anguish her loved ones feel over her absence?
Can she feel our love for her? Can she hear me whisper softly to her? When I pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to let her know how much we miss her, does He relay my message?
Will I ever be able to pass her frozen, barren garden on the way to the mailbox without feeling a longing for her in my life?
Will her children know that none of this was their fault, or will they mistakenly think, 'If I had kept my room cleaner, she would still be here..."? (When I found out as a child that my mom was suffering from severe depression and having suicidal thoughts, my faulty belief system caused me to own her problem... I specifically remember thinking that if I tried harder, if I was a better, more successful kid, she would be happier. I warned Sierra that the Adversary might steer the blame in those directions.)
One night last week, as usual, I was the last one eating dinner (I'm a notoriously slow eater). My sons were wrestling in the living room. Josh is about a hundred pounds heavier than Caleb, and, well, you can probably predict the result of their wrestling sessions. Caleb came in crying, "Mommy! I want my mommy! Josh hurt me!"
He curled up on my lap and I stroked his back and loved on him for a moment, when all of the sudden, a starting realization occurred to me-- Who will do this for Isaac? Who will snuggle him and reassure him and wipe his tears? Her babies are kinda like mine. I've bathed and fed and babysat hers, as she had mine many, many times. And I started to cry and the tears would not stop.
Another evening at dinnertime, Liz was saying the blessing on the food, and she asked Heavenly Father to help Chrishel feel better.
Caleb immediately saw fit to correct her after the "Amens", by saying, "Lizzy, Chrishel is dead. Right, Mom?"
I nodded numbly and whispered, "Yes, son, she is." And the tears spilled down my cheeks. (The younger two were told that Chrishel was sick and died. No specifics on the rest. The older two know she took her life. I hope I never have to have those kind of conversations again. In fact, Caleb drew a picture for Isaac with the sentence, "Dear Isaac, I hope you can be happy again even though your mom is dead." I didn't send it...)
When will my emotional strength return?
When will my tears dry up?
When will my two youngest children feel secure again? They are both having major separation anxiety issues from me since the funeral. Neither of them has experienced a viewing or funeral prior to this. We have had some good Family Home Evenings the past couple of weeks about God's Plan, and how death is part of that Plan. *I recommend a book available at Deseret Book called, "What Happens to my Spirit When I Die". (Can't think of the author at the moment, but perfect for young children. Beautifully written.) If I leave to run an errand, Caleb calls every few minutes asking when I'm coming home. When I left on one errand last week without telling him, he called me on my cell in a panic. "Mom! You promised me you would always tell me if you had to leave me!" "Buddy, I told Josh where I was going. I'll be home soon. Everything is fine."
I can't get Lizzy to stay in Primary by herself. Joseph had to sit with her in her class on Sunday because she was crying so hard. (She is 6!)
Tomorrow night I have an appointment with a therapist at the BYU-I Counseling Center. He is a dear friend. I hope he will have some answers for me. But I know there aren't any to many of these questions, so I pray the counselor will be able to help me let go of the things I cannot control.
That's what I'm learning-- grieving a loved one whom we lost to suicide has so many layers of grief and sorrow to work through.
I cling to my knowledge and resolution that Christ is our Redeemer. He is our only Hope. Somehow, someday, it will all be made well. I know this fervently. This carries me. And it is enough.