The Suicidal Trance

Many people find suicide to be mysterious, confusing and perplexing. That is especially true for those left behind in the wake of suicide. When my mother died from suicide when I was 13, I couldn’t understand how she could do such a thing and abandon her children. I was angry for many years that she chose to miss my whole life. Now, from the much wiser perspective of adulthood, I have come to understand it a little better, and it is less of a mystery. As  result, I’m no longer angry and, instead, just feel sad that she was in such great pain that she felt death was the only way to end her suffering.

Everywhere you read about suicide, it is mentioned that there is a strong connection between suicide and mental illness. The impression this leaves is that people who kill or attempt to kill themselves must be “crazy.” The majority of people can’t understand why someone would do this to themselves and readily buy this explanation. Meanwhile, many loved ones of people who die from suicide report that the person who died showed no signs of chronic mental illness. Through his research while writing the book Waking Up, Alive!, Dr. Richard Heckler found a more accurate description of the state of mind during a suicide attempt called the “suicidal trance.”

A trance is neither rational nor “mental illness,” but a temporary dissociative state, or altered state of consciousness, similar to when someone hallucinates during a high fever. Prior to this state, thoughts of suicide can be triggered during times of high stress from emotional pain, physical pain, high anxiety, disappointment, depression, etc. to bring about a sense of relief from the stress. The will to live and fear of how suicide would affect loved ones causes the person to reject these thoughts, while continued stress causes them to be re-triggered. The person may battle suicidal thoughts for years until the continued and relentless stress causes them to mentally retreat into a “suicidal trance” where the sense of relief that death would bring becomes overwhelming.

In this state, the person begins to accept certain false beliefs in order to suppress the will to live. One belief is that death is the only option to end their suffering. They become hopeless that their lives will ever be better or different and time, a change of circumstances or healing will not bring any relief. They also begin to feel helpless and believe there is nothing they or anyone else can do to change the situation. They also often start to believe that no one really loves them, and they will not be missed. They also often believe that everyone around them, and perhaps the world itself, would be better off without them. Their own minds create these false beliefs which they embrace in order to be able to fully accept that death is the solution to their suffering. It’s like their mind lulls them into a state of confusion and self-deception like being hypnotized.

Despite their differences, suicidal trances share these common characteristics:

  • “They appear extremely logical, with a premise and a rational series of
    arguments that encourage suicide as a reasonable response to pain. These
    arguments are powerful, especially when created by someone who has become      emotionally deadened — whose reservoirs of faith, trust, and hope have
    run dry.
  • Suicidal trances appear as resignation, in which a person stops caring at
    all about the state of his or her life. They are frustrating and frightening to
    family and friends: it seems as if there is no force strong enough to persuade the person to act on his or her own behalf.
  • Suicidal trances “beckon.” As the trance intensifies, it becomes more
    insistent that the person finally complete the act. These urgings most
    often take the form of voices entreating him or her to take the final
    step, or of images presenting a picture of the final act.
  • Finally, this type of trance includes a particular vision of the future:
    an illusion of eternity in which the future is projected as an endless
    repetition of the present pain and disappointment, never-ending and
    hopeless.”

One suicide attempt survivor described it like this:

“Towards the end of my depression I fixate on the fact that I am a burden to my loved ones and I really am doing the best for them by taking my own life. I go into psychosis – I think they call it – just before a suicide attempt – when I truly believe what I am thinking to be true. It is near impossible to change my mind about the suicide by then. I love my family so much and honestly believe I am doing ‘right’ by them at this time. Of course I know this not to be true when I’m well.

Depression is an awful illness, everything can feel so black, with the walls closing in from every side. There is no relief from it. When I have made the decision to commit suicide, however, I am overcome with a sense of calmness and peace that I have finally found the answer.”

Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of famed author, Anne Sexton who died from suicide at 45, described her own suicide attempt like this:

“That night I had nothing planned. There was just the pain. Suicide simply came up from behind and took me in a bear hug.

I ran a tub and got in, slowly, carefully, balancing my martini on the rim. A sharp paring knife lay beside it. Next to the knife stood two small brown bottles: Valium and Dalmane, prescribed for some other difficulty, some other time. Their labels were perilously out of date.

For the first time in weeks, all at once, I felt peaceful…

…why couldn’t I feel, deeply, what a betrayal it would be? Why, this time, did my love for my children not help me to push away the desire to die and to push away the desperation that had dogged me all my life, as it had so many times before? This time I was numb. The urgency pressed in upon me and flushed every family face, every family voice, from my mind.”

For some, they can be “snapped out” of this state almost instantaneously as happened with my own mother during her numerous suicide attempts prior to her death. She would drive out to the desert in a suicidal trance, listening solely to this voice promising relief for her suffering, take her pills, then “snap out it,” rush home and call 911 so that her life could be saved. Some who have survived jumping to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge have said that they felt instant regret the moment their hand let go of the railing. This may help explain why there are 20 to 30 more suicide attempts every year than deaths. Linda Gray Sexton describes this happening to her as well:

“After I finished, I passed out. But when I woke I was lying in a blanket of cold red water.

Under the dark surface, my body was invisible. I tried to sit up and failed; I rolled sideways on one hip instead, my hand scrabbling against the floor tiles for the phone I thought I had put there.

Frightened, I woke a friend. She used her second phone line to call the police secretly while continuing to soothe me. Eventually, the police pounded on the bathroom door and in an instant defeated the lock. Armed with holsters and guns and nightsticks, they hauled me up by the armpits. I struggled vaguely against being saved but they loaded me onto the gurney and strapped me down.

It was only then, rushing on my back through the hall, that I thought clearly of my children and allowed horror to flood through me. At last. Too late.”

For others, though, they awake disappointed that their attempt had failed and are now also in intense agony from poisons, self-inflicted wounds, or pain from surviving an intentionally fatal fall. For them, it takes more than just an instantaneous revelation to bring them back from this dark place and break the suicidal trance. This is important to understand for suicide loss survivors because a suicide attempt does not happen solely because of events that immediately precede it, and it’s unlikely to be stopped by something simple like a visit, phone call or text message. Some who have died from suicide killed themselves directly in front of loved ones even as they were being begged to stop. This does not mean that suicide is inevitable or completely unpreventable; it means that the forces at work that drive a person to attempt suicide are very powerful and usually beyond an outsider’s ability to stop them. It’s up to the attempter to find their way out of that dark place.

In the midst of a suicide loss survivor’s often swirling, confused, self-accusing thoughts there remains but one truth:

Your loved one died because, while in a state of confusion, they believed that death was the only solution to end their suffering, and for no other reason.

For guidance and support while navigating the complicated grief that typically accompanies suicide loss, you can connect with other survivors here:

http://forum.allianceofhope.org

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

Why Does It Still Hurt?

I used to work with a woman a number of years ago whose son had died from a heroin overdose. She had come home to find him convulsing, and he died in her arms. It was a tragedy, but she seemed to be coping well, and her performance at work was largely unaffected. Knowing from my own experiences that grief doesn’t end at the funeral, I would periodically ask how she was doing. Most of the time, she would smile and say she was doing great. One day, about a year after his death, she seemed distraught and, with tears in her eyes, asked me earnestly, “Why does it still hurt?”

Both the newly bereaved and the general public seem to have this misconception that grief has some kind of endpoint. This seems to be perpetuated by the often passed around “5 Stages of Grief.” The final stage, “Acceptance,” is supposed to result in “peace.” What most people do not realize is that the concept of stages was originally developed to describe the emotional response people have to the news that they have a terminal illness. In other words, these are the stages that a person who has cancer would go through when they are told their cancer has spread and nothing further can be done: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages were also found in the response of loved ones of the terminally ill patient after receiving the news that the patient would be dying.

This was all based on the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who published a book in 1969 that contained the stages that were originally entitled “The 5 Stages Of Receiving Catastrophic News.” Her book “On Death And Dying,” was revolutionary in changing how terminally ill patients were treated in hospitals. Unfortunately, the stages were learned by psychology students who began to erroneously apply them to loved ones who had received the news that someone had already died, not that they were dying. This subtle shift in application has had profound results in society due to the fact that therapists, well wishers and even grievers themselves had become eager to reach that magical place of “Acceptance” so they could be at “peace.” Except that it doesn’t exist. That’s not how grieving the loss of a loved one works.

The prevalence of this theory has left mourners feeling unsupported as well-intended but ignorant therapists and friends who have never experienced loss themselves tell them to “let go” and “move on.” They begin to feel as though there is something wrong with them and that they have “failed at grief.” Rather than continue to expose themselves to criticism, they either cut off all unsupportive people and continue to grieve in solitude or suppress their remaining grief in the name of “moving on.” The latter can often have detrimental results when a subsequent adversity brings the unresolved grief back to the surface making the new adversity twice as painful. Grieving is the process of healing pain and needs to be understood, supported, and continued until the pain of loss naturally falls below the surface enough that the person can get back to functioning and enjoying life.

In the beginning, the pain, along with images of the death and memories of the deceased loved one, may constantly be in your conscious thoughts. A newly bereaved person may cry continually or for long periods at a time. What is often not understood is that each time you feel the pain and express it, you heal just a little bit. Crying actually expels stress. The healing process is so slow that it doesn’t feel as though you are healing at all. As the pain heals a little, it starts to sink below your conscious thoughts, and you’re able to think about something else for a minute or two, but it quickly comes back. After this period, it can sink even further below the surface, but it doesn’t take much to pull it back up. Triggers can pull it back up, so grievers often try to avoid triggers. But feeling pain when it is triggered actually helps to heal it a little more again. Each time you reconnect and feel the pain, it heals that much more and sinks even further down out of your conscious thoughts. Over time, a long time, it takes a lot to pull it back up, and it hurts less when it does come back up. This process can take years.

You have to be patient with yourself as you’re going through this process. Some people reach a point where the pain stays below the surface, and then they keep it there and don’t allow it to come back up, because it hurts! That’s understandable, but avoiding pain leaves it unresolved. Time alone doesn’t heal emotional wounds, feeling them does, feeling them over and over and over again. Think of this process as if you had thousands of pain neurons wanting to tell their sad story, and each time you reconnect with your pain, one gets to tell its story. Let them tell their story. Don’t shut them out. Doing this in a strategic, controlled way helps to lessen the pain over time and take the power out of triggers.

Some people get to a place of healing where the pain stays well below the surface, and then 5 to 10 years later, they experience something else painful that brings the old pain back to the surface. Many are surprised by this, thinking they had been completely healed. I had this very thing happen to me while I was going through the most painful period in my marriage. I had read the book The Denial of Death at one point while I was trying to understand the phenomenon of denial found in alcoholism. In the book, the author mentions that pain neurons are connected to one another. This was such a revelation to me. That’s why any new pain you experience is so overwhelming. Pain is like a barrel of monkeys and new pain pulls all your old pain back to the surface. That’s why people who experience trauma can have such difficultly with future adversities.

This is another reason why it’s so important to periodically reconnect with your pain even after it starts to sink below the surface. You may not feel it every day or all the time anymore, but it is still there. The more you let your pain “tell its story,” the more it heals so that when it does come up during a new adversity or trigger, it is not as overwhelming. You need to continue to nurse your emotional wound. After years, many years, it takes a lot to pull it to the surface, and, when it does come back up, it hurts a lot less. Once I gave myself permission to heal regardless of any timeframe, I really made progress, and now I no longer need to expend energy avoiding triggers.

Loss leaves you “forever altered,” and you will always be affected by your loss; but you do not need to be defined by it. No matter how much it hurts now, it will not always hurt this much. It does get better. What can get you through the darkest, worst storm is knowing that someday, there will be a rainbow. You have to look for the rainbow. There is no magic pill or easy path, but someday, brighter days will come.

See:
The Four Tasks Of Grieving

Who Wants To Die

I’ve heard the analogy that people who take their own lives are like the people who were jumping to their deaths to escape the heat and fire during 911. They didn’t really want to die; they just wanted to end the pain. This is actually true for many more people than who will admit it. The one time I had this feeling was during the worst part of my marriage. I was in so much pain that I found myself thinking that if I lived to be 80, I only had 50 more years to go. Death marked the end of my suffering. Just the fact that I was thinking this way scared me enough to take steps to drastically change my life by getting a divorce while having four small children. I’m glad I did.

This kind of thinking is a death wish. I read recently on a forum that a suicide survivor (whose loved one had died from suicide) had a death wish until she actually nearly died from sepsis. This death wish dissipated in the face of the risk of actual death. She then realized that she didn’t really want to die. So a death wish is not an actual real desire. It’s merely a coping mechanism to deal with difficulties and pain. The death wish is kind of like a fantasy of the pain ending.

It’s just one more step from a death wish to suicidal thoughts. The idea of death brings a feeling of relief, but it is not an actual desire to die. One cancer patient posted on a forum that he had had thoughts of taking his life until he was diagnosed with cancer, then he realized that he actually wanted to live. Another poster said that her son had died from suicide, and she thought that she wanted to join him until she was diagnosed with cancer and realized that she also actually wanted to live. Some can no longer entertain a fantasy about death bringing relief when death itself becomes real for them.

There is one part of the mind that creates a fantasy of relief through death that is in opposition to another part of the mind that is a true desire to live. For most people, the true desire to live keeps the fantasy of death at bay. The fantasy of death is not a true desire but an impulse.

The dichotomy between desires and impulses can be seen with dieting. The true desire is to eat healthy and lose weight. The impulse is the desire for a donut. With an impulse, there is a seduction where the conscious self is being tempted and tantalized by the pleasures that giving into the impulse would bring. The true desire influences the conscious self to resist the impulse. This can go back and forth for hours until a decision is finally reached to give in to the idea of eating the donut. As you walk to the kitchen, your mouth is watering and you are fixated on the enjoyment of the donut with all thoughts of sticking to your diet shut out of your mind. The moment you finish the donut, your true desire comes back to the surfaces and chastises you for giving in to your impulse.

This is a very similar process through which suicide attempters go. The true desire is to live. The impulse is to die because death will end their suffering. The impulse to die tempts and tantalizes the conscious mind to give in to the impulse and find relief for the suffering. Once the decision is made, the true desire to live is shut out as the attempter is fixated on the relief that death will bring. In 70% of cases, the decision to make the attempt is made less than one hour prior to the attempt, and in 24% of cases, it is made in less than 5 minutes prior. They don’t really want to die. They are giving in to an impulse.

Just as a diet cheater feels regret immediately after eating a donut, the suicide attempter often feels regret almost immediately after the attempt is made, depending on if the method chosen allows for this. People who have survived jumping to their deaths off of the Golden Gate Bridge have reported that they felt immediate regret as the were falling or even just milliseconds after letting go of the handrail. This sudden desire to live immediately after attempting to die can be explained by the difference between impulse and true desire. This also explains why more than 90% of first time suicide attempt survivors followed in one long term study eventually died from other causes besides suicide. They didn’t really want to die.

Understanding this now gives me an explanation for why my own mother would drive out to the desert, take her pills, “snap out of it,” drive back home and call 911. She was giving into an impulse. Her attempt to die was real and genuine in the moment. This was not merely a cry for help or ploy to get attention. She really tried to kill herself, but she then tried to save herself from her own suicide attempt because her true desire was to live. She didn’t really want to die.

Hopefully, this understanding can also help other suicide survivors understand how a loved one who seemed happy and gave no indication of suicidal thoughts would suddenly kill themselves. The act seemed out of the blue because the impulse may have been out of the blue. Other times, the person may have been able to resist the impulse, but in that moment, it became irresistible.

The big question is whether being equipped with this knowledge could actually make a difference for a potential suicide attempter in being able to resist this impulse. Does it make any difference to know that an impulse is not a true desire? Does it make the donut less irresistible to know that wanting it is merely an impulse and not a true desire? Suicide prevention will likely gain more ground by focusing on recognizing and reducing the underlying suffering that makes the impulse a relief in the first place than creating strategies for how to deal with people who are “already up on the ledge,” so to speak. There would be less people to talk down from the ledge if the attempters knew there were other effective means to reduce their suffering. No one wants anyone to die.

Sunken Ships

Sunken Ships

I don’t like
Remembering
I don’t like
Reminiscing
All the good and bad
Seem to be all jumbled
Together
You can’t have one
Without the other
They all sink
Down
To the depths
Like sunken ships

When they stay sunken
All is calm
All is well
You would never know
That the remnants
Of tragedy
Lie just below
The surface
Out of sight
Out of mind
Almost forgotten…
‘Til they surface again

Those
Sunken ships
Lie quietly
On the bottom
In their watery graveyard
A silent photograph
Of the past
Like a moment of time
That has ever been
Holding its breath

What if you could
Walk among them
Stare the past
In the face
One after another
And yet another
Yet another

Each one
A momento of a
Tragedy
A slice of time
Frozen
So many slices
Each one captured
In its own day

But now together
They sway back
And forth, back
And forth to the
Rhythm of the waves
These long-forgotten
Monuments to
Pain and suffering

Now dancing
Together
Deep under the
Surface of the
Placid and serene
Sea
Constant reminders
That her waves
Have not always
Been so docile

What secrets does
She hide cloaked
Within her depths?
What pain is
Locked away
Carefully
Guarded by her faint smile

You would never
Know
The horrors
That lie below
While you are lulled
To sleep by the warm
Gentle rocking
Of her restful waves

Removing Yourself From Pain

image

“Nobody loves me. I just want to die!” she cried as I stood there helplessly. My 12-year old brain couldn’t conjure up the right words to say to counter this immense hurricane of sadness that swirled around my mother. These kinds of episodes were becoming more and more common. After numerous suicide attempts and a two-week hospital stay while she was in a coma, I knew where this was going. She lay on her bed, crying with her brown bag of pills lying next to her. I felt that I had to do something, but I wasn’t sure just what. I finally did the only thing I could think of at the time: I grabbed her bag of pills and ran down the hallway, went into my room and locked the door. She came running after me, banging on my door, crying, “Give me my pills! Give me my pills!” I hid the bag in my room and waited for her to break the door down and administer whatever punishment awaited me for my defiance. But she stopped. Hours later, she was cooking dinner and calmly knocked on my door and asked for her pills back. I opened the door cautiously and gave them to her. She took them back without saying a word, put them away in her room and went back to making dinner. It was just another day in the life of a child with a suicidal mother.

Back then, I had seen everything purely from my own perspective. I had evaluated events that happened based on how they had affected me. This was no way for any child to live, to be sure. But many years later, after becoming an adult, being married and having children of my own, I tried to put myself in her shoes and understand her pain. By that time, there were many parallels between her life and mine. We both had had tragic upbringings, regardless if mine was actually the result of her actions. We both had married longing for the love we lacked as children and were sorely disappointed. We both had looked to motherhood to fill the resulting void. Though I had never actually walked in her shoes, I certainly had retraced many of her steps like I was following a map of sorts she had left behind. Each step gave me a greater understanding of how she had felt and what she had been going through during that dark, dreary period of her life. One big difference, though, and possibly the biggest, was that I have never faced the grief and guilt of losing one of my children.

My baby brother had died in the month of February from pneumonia at 14 months after being very sick with the flu for many weeks. I don’t remember this trip, but my grandmother had told me at one point that we all had gone on a trip from Arizona to Illinois in our camper that Christmas so our extended family could see my baby brother. Illinois can get down to thirty below so it was very cold. I made a similar trip with my firstborn and constantly kept her wrapped in piles of blankets, but I stayed indoors. My grandmother had told me that we were staying in our camper and that she had thought at the time that it was far too cold for my brother. The night my brother died in the hospital, I could hear my mother crying in the living room, “It’s all my fault! It’s all my fault!” I didn’t realize until my grandmother told me this story that my mother probably did feel directly responsible for his death. She was not just grieving, but also was filled with a tremendous amount of guilt.

If I had to reduce everything I have learned and now understand down to one thought or idea, it would be that it is almost impossible to heal while you are still in a circumstance that is painful. Constantly experiencing “new pain” reopens old wounds over and over again even if the “new pain” is of a completely different type or from a different source than the pain experienced in the past. In order to heal, you have to stop the pain.

I am not talking here simply about grieving, which can feel like new pain when grief resurfaces. This is the reality that the “Five Stages Of Grief” doesn’t address. Grief doesn’t end with acceptance when you have lost a loved one for the simple reason that you never stop loving them. Acceptance doesn’t end your love, so it doesn’t end your pain. At first, the pain sits at the surface filling your mind, and it’s almost all you can think about. Over time, it starts to sink below the surface and other thoughts fill your mind but the pain is right there, just around the corner. As the years pass, it sinks further and further down as other events and experiences seem to get piled on top of it.

Then something retriggers the pain: a holiday, an anniversary, a movie, seeing a face in a crowd, a song, or any number of things. Then the pain comes back to the surface and you seem to feel it all over again. This is the real final stage of grief: this constant sinking and resurfacing of pain. There is no escape from this or end to it as long as you still love this person. It’s a normal part of grieving. It becomes unhealthy when your pain never sinks below the surface even after years, and it continually fills your mind. “Healing” is actually just your pain staying below the surface most of the time, but you never actually “heal” in the sense that it completely stops hurting and the pain is “gone.”

People who have not experienced this themselves erroneously believe that the person needs therapy or some professional to solve this problem as if the person is broken and just needs to be fixed. In some cases, having a professional there to guide and navigate the person through the process of grief can help, but no therapist can completely heal pain. They are not emotional miracle workers. And that’s okay. Grieving people should not feel guilty about feeling pain from the loss of loved ones even decades after they have gone. If you understand the true grieving process, this should be expected. I’ve heard numerous times that grieving people have been told by well-meaning friends to “let it go” and “move on.” One woman I knew lamented, “Why does it still hurt?” a year after her son’s death. There seems to be a prevalent misunderstanding that “healing” means it doesn’t hurt anymore.

But this process of retriggered grieving isn’t new pain. A new pain is something that is an event that is happening now and hurts now. Most often, this is a painful relationship. Each time that person hurts you, even if it is in the same way repeatedly, it is a new pain. New pain has a way of pulling up past pain to the surface. It’s like pain is a barrel of monkeys with each new pain latched on to a previous pain until you feel like every terrible, painful thing you’ve ever experienced all comes to the surface at once. This is one reason why a person who has experienced tragedy, or many tragedies, can have a very strong reaction to something that may seem minor to someone else. They often aren’t just experiencing that minor thing. They may also be experiencing deep pain coming up to the surface from the past that has been retriggered by the new pain.

This is not to say that a grieving person must remain in some kind of hermetically sealed emotional environment. Minor pricks can be endured, but very deep cuts are another story, especially numerous deep cuts. One of the most painful things a person can experience, in my opinion, is to love someone who has a significant role in his or her life and feel no love in return. The loved person usually displays tell-tale signs of a lack of genuine care, compassion, affection and concern, each one a knife stab in the heart. In this case, it is not the overall situation that is painful, but each loveless incident is another piece of evidence there is a lack of love seen on a continual basis. Every incident is a new pain. Everyday, there is a new stab and a new wound making it impossible to heal from any previous pain.

I look back at the situation my mother was in and it all seems so clear now, especially after experiencing a painful marriage myself. She had been abused by her parents and felt unloved growing up, got pregnant and married my father. She had told me at one point that she didn’t think he even loved her. Then my baby brother died, and she felt it was all her fault. Her grief brought the pain of her past to the surface, and the constant pain of her marriage kept it there. She lived every day completely engulfed in pain. They had diagnosed her as bi-polar, but that never sat right with me. It seemed to disacknowledge the role her grief and past experiences were playing in her emotional state, which had changed dramatically overnight when my brother died. A true bi-polar person can experience cycles of depression and mania irrespective of their circumstances. It’s completely originated by chemicals in the brain. But what if those chemicals are produced by grief, loss and feeling unloved? How could you tell the difference? I think that’s the reason why her medication ultimately didn’t work.

After experiencing significant healing after I separated from my husband, I think now that if my mother would have left our family when my brother died and had a chance to grieve and heal in an emotionally healthy environment away from the continual pain of her marriage, things may have turned out differently. That would have been a desperate and bold move on her part. In retrospect, though, there was enough at stake to justify it. If she had seen that as an option and known what would happen if she stayed, it would have been a Hail Mary sacrifice to save herself. When I saw myself going down this same spiral of pain, retriggered pain and then even more pain, I knew it I needed to get out for my children’s sake. It was a desperate and bold move to divorce my husband while I was a stay-at-home mom with four small children, but I had to save myself for their sake no matter what the cost, no matter what it took. I was worth it.

It’s easy to look back from where I am now and see that I had made the right choice. Healing wasn’t instantaneous; it took years. I remember at first that I had felt like I had just woken up from a coma, and I often felt like I was “outside of myself” watching myself do things. I was adjusting to a new pain-free reality, and it was a bit surreal at times. Finally living in a pain-free environment stopped the cycle of pain and retriggered pain which finally gave my volcano of pain a chance to slowly heal. I just wonder now if it would have made a difference if my mother had done the same. I think it might have. At the very least, I wish she would have tried.

Related Reading:  The Denial Of Death, Earnest Becker