2 years.

Survival mode.

If there’s 2 words I’d use to describe this past year, it’s those.

Grief is a funny thing. It’s so overwhelming that you try to suppress it, and it supresses you simultaneously.

This morning’s sunrise at Jax beach

Several of you know how special sunrises are to our family, but you may not know why.

William was colorblind – but he’d call his friends up at 3a and ask them to drive out to the beach with him to watch the sunrises. Jammie (dad, who also took the above photo) believes he loved them so much because it was the only time he could see the differences in the colors.

We went to a wedding in Michigan last fall and there was a little shop downtown completely dedicated to sunrises. Nothing else. Shirts. Stickers. Photos. All about sunrises.

One of the stickers said, “the sun still rises”. What a multi-faceted message…

I’ve always been a pretty “open book” kind of person. I’ve had my share of trauma and talking/writing about it has not only been healing for me, but when I saw how many others I could help just by sharing our story, the healing effects compounded.

But something about this year was so different.

I’ve started countless posts the last few months, literally since May, and just couldn’t finish them. I couldn’t find the words; then recently, I came across this post by @goodmourningpodcast that explained it all so perfectly:

The reality is:

1. Everything does not happen for a reason, especially death.

2. You may not feel like your loved one is in a “better place”, they should be here.

3. Grief doesn’t heal with time, it just gets slightly easier to manage.

4. The first year of loss if often a blur and you may still be in shock, it’s the years that follow that can sometimes be harder, when the shock wears off and the permanence of your loss starts to sink in.

Permanence. That’s the word I’d been looking for, or maybe even the word I’ve been ignoring. As the days pass, the permanence of William’s absence is glaring back at us.

Grief is inexplicable. It changes you from the inside. Healing takes work. Mentally and emotionally exhausting work. The thick of hits you when you don’t expect it, and when you do.

It’s labeling memories with “before William died” and “after William died”.

It’s the pain in ordering one less pair of matching Christmas PJs each year.

It’s asking for a table for one less person.

One less flight my mom has to book for family vacations.

One less person in our chaotic family photos.

It’s reminiscing in the same photos and videos because we can’t take new ones.

It’s outwardly moving forward with your own life while always feeling like you left something behind.

But with the permanence, there’s also so many mercy drops.

It’s in the sunrises he loved to watch that now remind us to live a meaningful day.

It’s in the silly moments we know he’d enjoy.

It’s in the trips he’d want us to take and cherishing the memories so much more.

It’s in the kindness we show and receive.

It’s in the friends and family checking in on us and each other.

It’s the new perspective he gave us all on life.

It’s in the lives he’s touched…and saved.

It’s in the strength his absence has given our family.

That time his pants slid off and I dropped him πŸ˜‚

One of the most viral suicide awareness messages I’ve heard is “you’re not alone”, but I’ll be dammed if that phrase can pull someone out of the dark hole they feel like they’re in.

I recently saw something that spoke so deeply to me:

“Please stay.”

If someone you know is in a dark place, just sit with them. SHOW them they’re not alone. No one can promise it won’t hurt. No one said it would be easy. No one can guarantee you won’t still have hard days. But if you just ask them to stay – together, we can work toward brighter ones.

The sun still rises. A glaring reminder of how precious our time is. A reminder that even if today isn’t great, there’s always a tomorrow.

So please. If you are struggling, let someone know. Let them sit in the pain with you. Please stay.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Phone: 1-800-273-8255

Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

Save this in your phone as a contact so you have it if ever need it: text HOME to 741741 for FREE, 24/7 crisis counseling