The Longshadow of the Unimaginable

Trigger warning: Suicide. No not read further if you’re feeling fragile today. Sending you love and light. xoxox

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I tend to stay away from musical theatre, because I studied it at WAAPA and it made me hate what I once loved. My daughter, however, loves musical theatre. She is a true theatre dork, who knows the opening number of the Tony’s for three years running when NPH hosted, and can reel off the best actresses in a musical for the past five years or so.

For the past year, she has been obsessed with Hamilton, which won a fuckton of awards and where the tickets are rarer than a Donald Trump apology.

I have listened to the soundtrack and I like it. It’s clever and modern about a American History,  but this blog post is not a review.

A few weeks ago I read an article in the NYT about the director of the NY Public Theatre, Oskar Eustis, who took a punt on Hamilton, and another show, Fun Home, and the rest they say, is history as the shows went on to be the amazballs of all shows.

However, the director of the NY Public Theatre Oskar Eustis,  was dealing with the loss of his son Jack, had just suicided in the midst of this streak of professional success for his father.

In the show Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s son dies, and in the edgy musical, Fun Home, the main character’s father kills himself. Not easy theatre by any stretch but then if theatre is an imitation of life, then it’s true to form.

Life has that capacity punch you in the face with an bike lock when you’re not looking.

There is a song in Hamilton, where Alexander Hamilton and his wife sings about their son’s death,  working out how to move forward and live a half life with his wife and their memories. It is a truly beautiful song. Oskar Eustis and his wife, Laurie listened to the song daily after Jack died.

“For me, the beautiful thing about ‘Quiet Uptown’ is, it serves a ritualistic function — it takes us into the grief, and then it takes us out of it,” Mr. Eustis said. “And there’s nothing, there’s no other ritual that I know of, that can do that for me.”

Why?

I think it’s because of this lyric.

If you see him in the street, walking by
Himself, talking to himself, have pity                                                   He is working through the unimaginable.

Suicide is unimaginable. It’s worse than anything anyone could conjure up in their nightmares. The deaths are often violent, sudden and the duplicitous nature of mental illness can feel like the person you love lied to you, and how can you forgive the betrayal as well as the death?

Survivors of suicide, and that’s what we are, have PTSD symptoms. Our grief isn’t like that of other sudden deaths. Studies show that the grief from a suicide comes with feelings of blame, shame, guilt and feeling stigmatised.

The long shadow of a suicide carries an aura of blame that has to be attached to someone or ourselves, as though we could have prevented our loved ones final act. It’s how our brain makes sense of what happened but sometimes life is nonsensical. The Jabberwocky of mental illness makes sense to none except those who are reading it backwards in a mirror.

A study from USA recently said that the average length of time for a person to recover from the lost of a loved one to suicide is 59 months. 59 months! That’s four years and 11 months. Is that more palatable than five years? Like the $4.99 price tag?

So 59 months. I know a few people who are in the midst of their 59 months. (That’s 1794 days for those who want to mark it off on their calendar.) Welcome the moments of peace between the grief. Enjoy them as it is your right to enjoy life. Don’t feel guilt because it’s useless. Tell people who tell you to get over it to go fuck themselves, and talk to the dead as often as you need. You won’t make sense of it. You can’t. It’s unimaginable but you can come to some sort of inner peace, even if it takes 1794 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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