When someone has a mental illness and addiction, it does not just impact that person but it affects all members of the family. You can think of mental illness and addiction as having a ripple effect. Directly, the person with mental illness and addiction suffers from both emotional and physical symptoms. Indirectly, the family suffers emotionally and physically.
Similarly, losing a loved one has a ripple effect on all members of the family. There is not a single thing that hasn’t been affected by losing Lilly. None of us were prepared to lose her. We all thought if only we try this, if only we did this, if only we loved more, if only we accepted more, if only... We see ourselves responsible for what happened. Our lives are frozen in a time warp of pain. Not only are we mourning our loved one, but we are also mourning for ourselves. We are all learning to adjust to a new life, a new reality, a life without Lilly physically in it.
Removing one person from a family unit that has always been a supportive structure; changes the entire dynamics. Although our family structure is not falling apart; the foundation has huge cracks. We have lost a daughter, a sister, an advisor, a confident, a friend. I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I need to refer to Lilly in the past tense.
Family traditions, celebrations, and experiences are no longer the same. As the grieving process is still so raw; we as a family are still feeling the ripple effects of grief. We are all expressing our grief in different ways - crying, being angry, being resentful, retracting from life, and writing. Losing Lilly has caused physical and mental overexertion. I would like to share a post that Simmi (our youngest) wrote:
The ripple effects of losing Lilly will be felt for a lifetime. When people ask me how am I doing my mind just assumes that they are asking how am I coping . The reality is the loss of Lilly impacts our family every single day. Lilly has physically left, the challenge remains for us to survive.
Since Lilly’s death, I have spoken publicly about the importance of recognizing mental illness and addiction. It’s destructive potential, as well as the importance of receiving proper treatment. I hope and pray that sharing Lilly’s journey can help prevent tragedy for others.