When I first decided to write FREEFALL, a non-fiction account of surviving my husband's suicide, I wanted to help other suicide survivors or others coping with a traumatic death. I intended to communicate that the hell they were experiencing was "normal". I hoped to show them that they, too, could navigate the rocky road of grief and trauma. What's happening, though, is I am breaking open with every word.
Sitting here at my desk surrounded by journals stained with tears and filled with sorrow, I realize how far I've come in the six years and nine months following my husband's death. I am no longer the same person who began this journey.
Writing non-fiction like this is an entirely different process from anything I've done. Fiction is fun, an adventure, an opportunity to entertain and explore a fantasy world. Journalism is matter-of-fact, often time-consuming and headache producing. This...going deep into my own grief, remembering the horror I felt and witnessed, reading my words written in a frenzy with tear marks wrinkling the pages...this is hard.
Is it worth it? I don't know. I feel compelled to share my journey because at one time I felt very alone. I never want another grieving soul to feel that they are misunderstood, abnormal, crazy or lost. I want somehow to communicate that they, too, will get to the other side of that dark valley. I'm not a grief-guru...I'm just a writer who happens to have gone through a horrible experience and survived it. Why would anyone want to read this story? It's not an easy read. I guess I don't know. I'm compelled to write it, though, for whatever that's worth.
People in my life who walked with me--and those who stayed away because it was simply "too much"--may be hurt by this story. It may seem unflattering to them somehow, even though this is simply my perspective during a time of all-consuming darkness. I'm troubled by this, but at the same time want to stay true to my journals and the process I experienced.
I have new found respect for all who write autobiographies. I'm sure they struggle with these same issues. Once again I ask the question...is it worth it?
Surrounded by these journals, I'm thankful that I'm a writer and was able to pour out my pain in a healthy way. I'm also grateful that I reached the other side, that I'm able to write romance novels that entertain, journalism stories that give me a headache, and non-fiction that will hopefully give someone out there hope one day.
Maybe it's all been worth it...every tear, every frantic scribble on the page, every struggle, every fall backward...because here I am living a pretty damn good life today.