Posted by Sarah Heynen, DCoE Public Affairs on September 22, 2014
Photo courtesy of Sarah Heynen
It’s been eight years since he left this Earth. It was a tragedy that has shaped my life. This year, I’m not crying. The heart is a miraculous organ that heals over time; heals with the help of a supportive community, mental health treatment of my own and time.
On September 22, 2006, my world went dark. The smile, laugh and energy that could light up a room was no more. A man I thought of as my best friend and was madly in love with took his own life. You see, his presence was beautifully infectious. He was much more than a combat veteran, he was incredibly smart, wickedly funny, an adventurer, a family member and the absolute best friend one could ever hope to know … and well I wasn’t the only woman madly in love with him. He was also a ladies man. I can say that all now with a smile and a laugh.
How did I cope? It wasn’t always pretty. In the darkest times, I used alcohol to dull the pain, which was neither effective nor healthy. I also had moments where I daydreamed about dying to end the pain. I felt anger and self-pity. In time, I found healthier ways to cope. I joined a grief group. I formed a relationship with his mom where we wrote letters and shared memories and feelings. I had amazing friends and family who loved and supported me when I felt I couldn’t function. I found a job where I could give back and offer resources to someone who wouldn’t have had them. I shared my experience with others. I sought therapy and worked through my grief, my anger. I visited his mom. I visited his ashes. I healed. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but I healed.