The Brain vs The Heart

November 12, 2021

The brain. The heart. So close yet so far. I’m reminded of this again, even after ten years of grieving the loss of my son. Brian died by suicide in 2011.

For the most part, I’m doing well. Loving and living a meaning full life. They say, finding meaning is the final stage of grief. Is there a final stage of grief?

For this ten year “anniversary” of Brian’s death, the brave me asked his friends to share pictures and memories of him. They did. Then, on that ever-dreadful day, I found the courage within my brave self to travel to Castleton University, in Castleton Vermont, the place Brian so deeply loved. Also, the place he died. His happy place. Whenever I voiced my concern for him, I remember Brian always assuring me that this was his “safe place, mom.” I’m good here.

The good news is, I did it. A reminder to myself, to never say never. Never did I imagine I would travel to Vermont again. The thought of it would send panic through me.

In the early years, the sight of a Vermont license plate bring shivers.

To be honest, going to Vermont, especially on that day, was not my idea. But with some gentle coaching, Matthew, my middle son suggested we do it. He knew I had wanted to go there but I could never initiate the trip.

“It’s going to be hard Mom, really hard. But let’s just do it.” The thought of having a plan of action that day rather than sitting around waiting to for the day to end seemed like a better option.

But here’s the thing. The brain knows he’s gone, after ten years, the heart does too. Yet, starring at the pictures, walking the Castleton campus, surrounded by the Green Mountains, remembering his love for the outdoors, screamed to me, “he’s really dead”.  The “whys” start to bubble back to the surface. He had so much going for him. WHY?  Reliving the “woulda, couda, shoulda’s we do after someone we love dies. Ugh, here I go again, sliding down that rabbit hole. My brain screams, stop this nonsense, it’s been ten years. My heart cries, ten years, it feels like yesterday, it feels like forever.

In the end, going to Vermont was good for me. I’m glad I did. It was the anticipation of the unknown that was holding me back. One thing my brain and heart will agree on is that sometimes the hardest things we do are the best things we can do for ourselves to heal.

In hope-Ann