My niece Rachel got married this past weekend. At the tender age of 22, she is now a wife and mother. (Her husband has a five year old son) I am happy for her joy.

This was our first family gathering since Jason’s death and it was bittersweet. Sweet because we were together as a family, joined by blood and love, celebrating a union of two young lives. And bitter because we were reminded once again that one of us is no longer with us, Jason.

My niece Deena and nephew Adam are in deep mourning for their brother as is my sister Cindy; she lost her son. While my other sister has been in the midst of planning her daughters wedding celebration. I think it has been hard to remember where the other is emotionally sometimes. We get so caught up where we are: we either want the world to celebrate with us, or mourn with us. And neither is wholly possible.

Jason’s wife delivered his death certificate to me as I requested and the word, suicide, popped off the page. She explained to me all the things she found while starting the slow process of letting go of some of his things: vodka bottles, empty pill containers, and so on. Things that he had hid away not wanting her to find, yet knowing that she would. All signs of his active addiction and his overwhelming pain.

Suicide changes us. So does a wedding. Our family dynamics are shifting and it will take time for us to adjust. No one talks about that before a wedding or after a death. Yet, it happens nonetheless.

We are in the midst of a radical family shift. I pray we remember to have compassion as each of us finds our new spot in the family chain.