As I look back at 2022, specifically at how I’m surviving my son’s death, the word that comes to my mind is “Build.” When Caleb died, the comfortable, safe, cozy life we knew as a family of five also died that day. It took a long time for us to regain our footing, begin building and connecting with each other again. Caleb’s death by suicide was unexplainably traumatizing for all of us in different ways, so moving forward and rebuilding our life has been extremely challenging in every facet. As I reflect on what I spent a lot of my efforts in this year, it was building. Building tolerance. Building relationships. Building confidence. Building a life I want to live in.
Reflecting On My 2022 Word Of The Year: Build
This year I focused on building tolerance in my PTSD. I’m better able to tolerate and hold things or moments that typically send me into a downward spiral, not without a little help, though. My husband and I met with a trauma therapist for several months, which helped us better understand the others grief and trauma experience. I also did Brain Spotting Therapy, which helped me tremendously this year. Building tolerance in my PTSD was a crucial practice for me this year and I’m thankful I put in the effort it took for me to hold my trauma in a stronger place.
This year I worked at building on the relationships I have with my husband and daughters. Any bereaved mother will tell you that she’s not the same person she was before her child died. The me I am now, is a lot different that the me I used to be. Not only that, I’m not the same wife, mom, sister, daughter or friend. Losing Caleb changed me, my marriage and how I parent my daughters. The work to build on the relationships is constant and cannot become stagnant, this is true of any relationship, but even more so when both are grieving. I’m grateful for the bonds I built and new connections I made with my husband and daughters this year.
Confidence in myself has been nearly nonexistent since Caleb died and building it back up is challenging. I can’t say I made huge progress this year but I did make some, so I want to acknowledge that and be thankful that I’m dedicated to growing it even more in 2023.
I’m building a life that I want to live in. I realized recently that it has been a while since I said I didn’t want to wake up in the morning. It has been awhile since I said I don’t want to live without Caleb. It has been awhile since I thought about driving my car into a tree or off a bridge. Each and every step I take forward in this life is progress in healing and matters to everyone I know. I’m building a life that includes adventure, healthy relationships, joy, happiness, self care, giving and growing in faith.
As 2022 comes to a close, I’ve been grieving my Caleb for 3 years and 4.5 months. It still feels unreal at times and hard to believe that what happened actually happened and that he really is gone. Some days I move through grief quite well and others every step I take is difficult. Sometimes grief feels very loud and large and other times it’s more soft and quiet, but it is always, always on the forefront of my mind and heart. Caleb is in my every heartbeat, breath, thought and step I take. The life we are building is beautiful complete with laughter and new memories while holding onto Caleb and honoring him in all we do. The picture below is one of my favorites taken this year while we were visiting the Grand Canyon. I didn’t notice how my face was turned towards the sky smiling until I looked it later that day. I see it as the mommy in me looking towards Heaven including her son in the moment.
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