I see you, and I love you

Title: I See You, and I love You
Format: Open Speaker Talk
Date: 11.08.2021
©2021 Bob Cristello, Founder, Coping With Suicide LLC

Good morning faithful reader

My name is Bob Cristello and my son Anthony took his life in August of 2017 at the age of 35. I say this to claim my seat and to renew my membership in a club that no one wishes to be a member of.

“I see you, and I love you”. This is a phrase that we sometimes use with each other to identify our shared struggle and our common goal to get through one more minute, hour and day in this journey through grief that we are all on. It took me two years after my son’s death before I realized I needed help and I pray that you come to believe that you need help as well. It is the first step in a long and arduous process and I applaud you for showing up today to hear the message from someone in a way that will allow you to accept it.

We have no membership, there are no dues or fees, we do not organize dances or social events and we are not a club that anyone wishes to join although our numbers are growing at an alarming rate. We are all sharing in a process that we do not not always understand, but it does work if we work at it. We come together regularly, to share our common experiences, strength and hope for when we came here most of us were hopeless. I know that I was.

Some of us, get to a point where we can look back and see our growth and that gives us a sense of courage to face the next struggle which always seems to be right around the corner. I personally am very sensitive of when people outside of our rooms hurt me with thoughtless things they say, such as it is time for me to move on or it is time for me to get over it. I have enough strength today to simply tell that person who honestly is trying to help me in their own way, that I will never get over but I appreciate their ability to move on. I can not get past this, over it or around it. I can’t even get through it but I can learn to accept it, but that is me. So I had to learn to accept this, before I could even admit I needed help.

I was watching a video last night that I made for Anthony on the first anniversary of his death. The first anything for any of us is a nightmare. The first birthday, first holiday or first anniversary of their death. It rips the wound open again and when it bleeds the only thing we feel is pain and grief and it doesn’t always show on the outside. For myself, when I feel my grief I want to explore it and analyze it because that is how my brain works. If I give in to my grief, I will want to feel more of it like it was a narcotic and I was a monkey in a cage tapping on the button to choose food or drugs, and I always choose what is most self-destructive for me. This disease, and I really don’t know what else to call it, wanted the life of my child and will not be content until I join my child or lay down in surrender and let grief control me. This is something that I am constitutionally incapable of doing, so I have no choice because My wife and daughter need me in the present and honestly, so do I.

As I watched this video, it really struck me that my son was really dead. I mean, I am four years into this I am supposed to have my feet under me and I am reaching out to help others, what is this new discovery? No, there is always something new to learn and grief is an exacting and meticulous teacher that never gives up. So, last night I just sat here in this very chair and absorbed the fact that my son was dead all over again. This is not a dream, this is not something I am going to wake up from, this is real and it is as real as it gets. The small urn on my desk with some of his ashes is actually there and I will never hold him in my arms or kiss his neck in the spot that I always do. Honestly, I still remember the very last time I kissed him and I can still smell his scent if I close my eyes.

This is the lesson of acceptance and it is painful. If you are here, I see you and I love you.

I am a member of a club that no one wishes to belong to. I pray that you keep coming back and open yourself up to this process. If no one told you today I want you to know that I see you, and I love you.

My name is Bob, thank you for letting me share today.