You might wonder what this story has to do with blessings, and I honestly think when someone arrives here that they do not feel blessed at all. I know I did not. Yet, here I am on this beautiful Tuesday morning in a small town in Vermont talking on the phone to my friend Timmy and telling him how I lost a job last Friday night. A job that I publicly declared I would get up and get seven weeks ago simply because my wife and eight year old daughter needed me to get. I probably wasn’t ready for the job, but I lost it through no fault of my own. In fact I solved their problems so quickly and efficiently that they realized they needed to halt everything and make a plan to come back to the table in January of next year.
“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.
Part of my recovery, and that is what I call if for I know no other way to describe this experience other than to equate it with a disease that wants to kill me, has been to learn acceptance and tolerance. If you ever see me putting it into practice I probably look like a toddler taking his first steps.
I guess you do what most of you saw me do yesterday, in a very public way. As you know, I have been sharing some of my posts this week with my public timeline as a way to bring awareness to parents who have lost a child to suicide. It was part of an exercise, now 7 weeks in progress, to get out of bed and fight against overwhelming grief and depression and go back to work.
The answer is, you don’t. I honestly hate to be the one to tell you this, but you never do. Once you accept that then you will start to understand that acceptance is a key tenet in this community. If you don’t like that it is a key tenet of our community, you are in good company because I don’t like it either. I am pretty sure that none of us like anything about this.
I am probably the least qualified member or our community to speak about forgiveness, especially when it comes to forgiving myself. When people on my timeline read this, they will know and remember what a thug I was even as a young boy. In my journey through grief in the last four years, I came to find a focal point where everything in my life went sideways.
The first thing I usually say when I hear someone ask this question is “I am so proud of you for seeing beyond yourself”. When I first came to this group I could not even think straight and I actually did not find this group until I was two years into the process. Looking back to those first few days, weeks and months; I noticed that new questions started popping into my head.
Anthony James Cristello, 35, of Naples, Florida and Massachusetts, passed away unexpectedly on August 16, 2017. Anthony was born on December 21, 1981, in Bad Kreuznach, Germany and raised and educated in Massachusetts. From an early age, Anthony could accomplish and excel at anything he set his mind to do. He was an amazing, loving and devoted Father who adored his daughter Aria with all of his heart.