Conventional wisdom teaches us to turn away from the pain of loss. Trying to help, people say, “Let it go,” and “Get over it.” This reaction to grief is often driven by the fear that we’ll be overwhelmed by our feelings. Once upon a time I shared this notion and like many, sought any and all means of distraction when difficulties arose. But when my son, Colby, died by suicide, the trauma was so acute I was broken open and found myself inhabiting a profoundly altered reality, a place beyond fear.

There was no question of avoiding this experience for the fiercely flowing intensity that I was at that time, demanded my full attention. It took all my strength just to sit very still, noticing every detail of what was happening inside and outside of me, breathing into the sensations coursing through my body that were riveting me to the couch.

In this opening I count myself lucky. Being short-circuited past all my usual distraction strategies, I learned that avoiding pain is not the way to find release from pain. Paradoxically, the act of exploring all the sensations in my body, uncomfortable or pleasant—dropping the story-line and embracing what is really true in the present moment—helped me discover a path to peace, even in the midst of horrific loss.

Passing Reflections is the narrative of my journey of discovery after Colby died. My intention in sharing these poems is to help other suicide survivors see they are not alone and help those who would be of service to survivors begin to fathom what it is to suffer traumatic loss. It is my greatest hope to help people learn how to transform suffering into healing, holding all with compassion.

May it be of benefit. -- Kristen Spexarth

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Surviving loss

Life is so beautiful, in its triumphs and tragedies.

Everywhere I look I see it now.

- Colby Spexarth