This week, we had the second anniversary of the day we lost my aunt to suicide. It was something I had been dreading… the lead up to that date is always tough, and then figuring out how to navigate the day itself and the days surrounding it hasn’t been easy.
We have a few anniversaries… the date she died, the next day when we found out she died…and a few more along the way as well.
In the weeks after we lost her, I became a detective in the worst sort of way. We were able to piece together a timeline of what happened, and a lot of “this is when she made that decision” “this was her last communication” types of things.
And because we have that timeline, it’s been very tempting for me to ‘watch the clock’ on the anniversary dates, to remember what she was going through at the exact moments she was going through them. But also, the decision to watch the clock last year made me feel extra sad.
So this year, I called my mom to check in and we talked about our plans for the evening and how it was weird to decide what we were going to do and how we would spend our time. I shared that it was hard for me to not watch the clock and she said the same.
We both decided that this year we wanted to try to have a normal evening, and to intentionally not watch the clock and instead choose to engage in some self-care. For me, that meant watching a show with JP and eating chips and salsa and microwave s’mores.
And I honestly think that was the best decision I could have made.
One, it made the night much more tolerable.
The other big thing is that two years ago, when my aunt died, a very deep darkness won. It is horrible and awful and it will always be horrible and awful that darkness won that day.
But we don’t have to keep letting the darkness win each year on that night.
I pray for Jeannine every day. I intend to keep praying for her as long as I’m alive. I grieve for her. Sometimes I grieve deeply. That is a part of the process too, and I respect that and validate that when the waves of grief crash heavy on the shores.
I also think it’s important for me to make the choice each and every day to live. For me, this year on the sad anniversaries that surround February 4th for our family, I chose to engage with my children. To visit with friends. To eat snacks and snuggle with my husband. That felt more powerful to me than forcing myself to relive the darkness by watching the clock and letting some of that darkness in.
It’s a tough balance, managing a loss like this one, but this year I’m thankful for the conversation my mom and I shared, and that we both were able to, as much as we could, not let the darkness claim another victory by stealing from the precious time we have.