Has Tragedy Defined You or Transformed You?

First of all I need to apologize. I had planned to sit down and write this piece over a month or so ago and I didn’t. My daughter Haley, told me if I said I was coming out with a blog then by golly it should be out! To be perfectly honest, she didn’t say it quite like that!!! However, I heard her message loud and clear.

I hope all shared a nice Thanksgiving with family and friends. The Saturday before Thanksgiving SASS-MoKan held a Remembrance Day which always coincides with National Survivors of Suicide Day. The afternoon brings together those who have shared a loss by suicide or other traumatic death. As I sat surrounded by others, I again wondered has tragedy defined me or has it transformed me the past eight years? Am I the same person I was before the loss of our son? Do I value the same things I once did? Does the future still hold promises for me? Have my relationships changed? What are my priorities?

Perhaps, the answer is yes to both defining and transforming a person. One cannot go through a loss without a change taking place. I am not the same person I was. I am eight years older, retired from a profession I loved, have added a few more grandchildren, a few more pounds, shrunk an inch, am coloring my hair a bit more often and you know all those things would have happened even if our son hadn’t taken his life. I value many of the same things I always have such as family, love, honesty, perserverance, friendship, etc. but added to the list is appreciation for the people who have ridden this bumpy road of life with me and a tolerance and acceptance of others without judgment. Might that have happened anyway? Probably so. Do I look at the future differently? I realize with each passing day those moments are gone and living and loving is all we have. Wishing for our son back won’t make it so. Focusing on those dear to me in the here and now creates the dreams of the future. Relationships have always been important but now even more. Say what you want to say to the people you love, because intentions say nothing. And yes, priorities are different. Being content with being content brings a sense of peace and for that I am grateful.

So, if this tragedy had not happened would I be the person I am now? We are living a “new normal” so yes I have changed but Brett’s death does not define me but it has transformed me into the person I am today.