Named one of the "10 Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" by Dr. Prem (View list http://goo.gl/r14kgv )
"Understanding suffering always helps the energy of compassion to be born."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
In an instant my husband stripped away my identity as wife, stay-at-home mom, and best friend. With his suicide, our world changed forever. He'd been the center of our universe, but then he was gone.
Grief is a dark journey, one often tainted with judgment and false perceptions. Add the word 'suicide' to the mix and more complications arise. This memoir, Free Fall, is intended for those who may be facing their own tragedy and feeling alone, hopeless, confused, scared, and misunderstood.
Free Fall is the journey of piecing our lives back together—overcoming children's anxiety as we traversed the brutal grief and trauma process, learning to say the words 'widow' and 'single mom' without cringing, surviving the fall out with friends and family who simply couldn't understand our healing process, triumphing over the stigma of 'suicide', forgiving my husband, and finding peace after chaos.
Free Fall is for widows, widowers, parents, survivors of suicide, family members or friends of one who mourns. This story is for anyone who needs encouragement that there is another side to grief. There is. We're there now. We're looking back and holding our hands out to you saying, "hang in there, you're not alone, and you'll get here, too."
“I wore your promise on my finger for one year
I'll wear your name on my heart til I die
Because you were my boy, you were my only boy forever.”
It's the day of the funeral. I didn't sleep at all last night. The kids won't let me out of their sight so they slept in my bed, which is fine. I stayed up writing all night, trying to get my eulogy right. I must protect Sean, that's all I can think. Everyone has their ideas of him and his death, I've already heard the claims. "How selfish of him, how cowardly." Well, today is not a day for that. I won't have it. I'm determined to stick up for him. That's my job as his wife, his widow. I must protect him...like I did in life, I suppose. I can't help feeling like I failed at that given where I am at the moment.
I crumble to my knees in my closet, the same place he died. I hold my black dress to my body. Despair ravages through me. Raw. Unyielding.
"How could you leave me?" I ask the place on the tile where I'd given him CPR. "How could you leave us? I don't know what to do or what to say or where to begin or how to do any of this alone. I am so mad at you, do you hear me?"
I curl up with my dress in my arms and sob. I want him back. I want this all to be a nightmare. Silent, body curling sobs roll through me.
"I love you so much," I manage to say against my fist. "I'm so sorry I didn't save you."
Jo appears out of nowhere and grabs my shoulders, "It's going to be okay. You can do this."
"I don't know how to do this."
"You do. Come on. You can do this." She pulls me up. "One day you'll realize that you're better off."
No one knows what to say to me. No one knows the right words.
I get dressed like a zombie, not caring about how I look.
The funeral home is on the phone, my mom says. I need to pull it together, handle things.
"Your father-in-law is requesting half of Sean's ashes," the woman on the phone tells me.
Half of what? My hands shake on the phone. The idea of splitting Sean's body up like that even more...the fact that the man hadn't had the respect of asking me directly or even to give me his condolences the other day...and there's that bit about him not speaking to his son for the past three years.
"He has no right to them," the woman continues when I remain silent. "You're the widow, you paid for this service. He has no right to them unless you give me permission."
"No," I say.
CrazyLand, USA, I swear.
The term "stranger than fiction" enters my mind while I convey the story to my family as we get ready to leave for the church. I'm scared of going to the church, actually. I don't expect anyone to be there. Sean and I were each other's best friends so our social circle was limited. We did everything together. It's the last day of school so I don't expect any of the soccer parents to be there. What a shame, an empty church for a wonderful man.
But people are at the church. Jo and my family had put together a picture collage of Sean. One of the photos had been taken exactly one week ago while we'd been snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, as a family of four. I squeeze the kids' hands a bit tighter and we walk to the front pew. I don't want to greet people or talk yet, not until I give the eulogy. My entire body is shaking. I don't want to be here. I want to be back in Mexico with my gorgeous husband walking on the sand.
The music, the hymns that I chose, all are happening around me. I go through the motions. Sit. Stand. Sing.
Then it's time for me to talk about him—my moment to make sure everyone knows he is more than a man who committed suicide. That's when I look up and see the people who've shown up for us. The entire back two pews are full of men who worked for Sean—they're crying. I see my cousins, my brother, and my parents, all who've traveled a great distance to be here. I see friends. I see Sean's side of the family; his mother bent over in tears, his stepfather and biological father, relatives from California. All are looking at me.
I don't know if I have the strength to speak. What was I thinking? I glance at my pastor who has tears in her eyes.
Then I feel as if I'm being held up—I feel a presence at my side, holding my arm, keeping me from falling. I look at my two little kids and speak.
I tell the room of a man who dragged us outside in the middle of the night to watch meteor showers, who loved the ocean and mountains, who loved his family, who enjoyed his job working outside every day. I tell them all how he taught his daughter to boogie board, both kids to ski before they could walk, and how he taught me to push past my comfort zone. I speak only of the man I loved.
I never take my gaze from my kids' faces. I do this for them. I want them to remember my words. I want them to remember their father for who he was, not how he died.
A Few Reviews...
5 stars via Author Susan Hawthorne:
Have you ever wondered what you should say... or not say... or were afraid to say anything at all, read this. The insights are deep and true.
I'd recommend this book to everyone. We all suffer loss at some point and this book lights the path.
5 stars via ChristophFischerBooks:
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time.
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others.
5 stars via Pastor Jennifer Swier: Free Fall is a helpful and encouraging look into one family's journey with the pain and healing of losing someone deeply loved through suicide. Her sharing is warm, loving, encouraging, and thoughtful. I found I couldn't put it down once I began. Amber's writing is compelling and will connect with all who share the journey with a family member or friend who is healing following the tragic death of the person they love: that we may begin to imagine what they are going through only because we hear the story they share.
5 stars via linz:
This book has helped me with my own grief. I would recommend this book to anyone. But more to those who don't understand losing someone to suicide.
She is very honest in laying out her and her family's experience. It's refreshing to read true experience rather than text book advice.
The companion grief journal, only $11.99 https://www.createspace.com/6240095