Letting Go


Phyllis Barbour-Patterson


About Nancy
Guest Speaker
Editing Service
Nestle Down Inn


October is a symphony of permanence and change.

Quote by B. W. Overstreet

Cycles of nature mirror our lives. 

Autumn brought me personal permanence and change.

The shocking moment of permanence:

 October 26, 2007 at 1:10 PM, a violent tragedy ripped my world apart.  The agony, pain, and torment of struggling with my husband and his Browning shotgun to prevent him from committing suicide is beyond human comprehension, an unending tragic nightmare. Only now, almost two years later, am I finally beginning to emerge from the fog of desperation. 

 Ours was a good marriage fraught with much sickness over the past forty-one years, but one with commitment and love. Jerry had four back surgeries, Hodgkin’s Disease, thirty-nine radiation treatments, several surgeries, a heart attack, stints and diabetes. His depression worsened and an autopsy revealed the aorta had begun to disintegrate. 

 Permanent.  I’m a suicide survivor.

 The identified moment of change 

 The trauma of returning to my home was enormous. A niece asked, “Don’t you think you may need to talk to a therapist?” I replied, “Probably and I will if you can find one that struggled with their spouse, trying to pull the shotgun from his hands, running to the phone for help, hearing the gunshot, smelling the horrendous odor of flesh and gunpowder intermingled.  If they’ve been through this hell, we’ll talk.”

 Change? This is change: you go to the grocery store and at the end of an aisle a friend quickly slithers to the next aisle to avoid contact. That was only the beginning. My doctor said people didn’t know what to say and I’m thinking, “And I do?” In fact, the kindest remark was when a friend made the comment, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say,” to which I replied, “That’s okay.  I don’t either.”

 No one can imagine the aftermath of emotions for suicide survivors. I knew that only God could keep me from losing my mind. The pain seemed insurmountable. At bedtime I placed a tape player at my brain and played Bible src
iptures throughout the night. Never underestimate the power of God’s Word.

 And I endured the agony as thousands of others have: dismantling the pieces of my life--the loneliness, packing his clothes, suffering the firsts of holidays, eating at our favorite restaurants-alone, and the pain of knowing our out-of-town daughter was as distressed as I. The list was endless.

 But from day one, it became obvious that this was a journey God intended for me to take virtually alone. A Bible verse constantly surfaced either in a sermon or reading material and continues to do so even today: "... but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

                              Change:  I’m a widow.  Suicide, a double grief.


     As I slowly began to climb out of the abyss of countless days and nights of complex emotional anguish, I swiftly realized there are great pressing questions with simply no answers and some heartaches cannot be put into words.  I pray the cruel stigma of depression-suicide-mental illness will be totally eradicated.

 Even though October ushered in a tragedy, its continued brilliance of color, its finale, its last smile still symbolizes for me a time of renewal as well.

 B. W. Overstreet said:  "Autumn asks that we prepare for the future—that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness."

As for my dear husband, Shakespeare hit the mark:  “Do not let your grief be measured by his worth, for then your sorrow has no end …”

 Leaves or life, nature’s cycles continue. Stanley Horowitz said: "Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” I’ve been blessed with this stunning medley of nature and now it’s time to rake the leaves of my life and in concert with its gusts, to move forward as well. Such is life.

 Enjoy the simple things. They’re so incredibly abundant! Cherish those special relationships, awesome sunrises, and hugs. These significant moments won’t last forever. They mesh into memories and eventually, so do we.

 Honor yesterday as you do the brilliance of this autumn season by letting go the past. Step into the riveting curtain of radiant leaves falling in the breeze and march right into your next season of life-an awesome future! In some form or another, we’re ALL survivors!  

 TO GOD BE THE GLORY                                 

Phyllis Barbour-Patterson, Patrick Springs, VA


Copyright©  2012 Used with Permission

All material on this site is copyrighted© 2012, Nancy Arant Williams unless otherwise specified  | Webapges by: Cheryl |