Surviving Suicide Should Be Like Having a Baby.
My wife has often commented to me that the moment she began announcing her pregnancies to family and friends, she began receiving advice.
“The first trimester is always the worst. I always got the worst heartburn as well so I know what that’s like. Just make sure you… dat tada datatada.”
“Oh eating that Philly Cheese Steak at the baseball game made you sick? There was this one time that I ate…and I could NOT find a bathroom…so finally I…dat ta da da nasssstttyyy… My advice to you would be anytime you’re going to eat something on the road make sure you know where the bathrooms are first.”
Pregnancy has got to be the number one most shared challenge women face. And fortunately, every new mom has countless sages around her to go to for help, for support, for guidance and comfort in dealing with every new difficulty pregnancy introduces.
So why is it so hard to find sages for surviving the loss of someone you love to suicide?
Even as I pose the question my immediate introspection suggests to me that the pain from suicide takes much longer to cope with, accept, and deal with. There are certain pregnancies that cause lifetime damage and pain, but for the most part, pregnancy is a stage (ignoring the remaining days of child rearing, because we all know that’s too long of a discussion to have here).
Surviving suicide is more like a life-sentence.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for healing. There is hope. There is healing. For you, and your lost loved one.
Let’s start by identifying the stages of grief.
Denial — Anger — Bargaining — Depression — Acceptance
I’m not totally convinced of these stages and their application to suicide survival, but I have experienced some of them, and created my own interpretations for others. Granted, this is no scholarly or academic claim, but rather a personal exposure of what has helped me. I feel like If you’re able to give your emotion a name, you also give it an expiry date.
If you’re able to give your emotion a name, you also give it an expiry date.
I don’t think these stages are in order, nor do I think there is any chronological methodology for handling them. I’ve had many experiences where people like to tell me what I’m supposed to feel, and naturally my default stage of grief turns to anger. You may know the feeling.
But if there’s one thing that has provided me some positive results it would be to allow. Allow myself to feel. Allow myself to hurt. Allow myself to wallow in the mud and darkness for a bit.
Of course, I would never go wallowing without taking a life preserve with me. A rope, a buoy, a branch, someone that is anchored to a brighter light-filled foundation than the direction I’m headed. And I strongly encourage you to find your anchor as you discover methods to allow yourself to feel the pain within you, and to bring it out. A therapist or counsellor is recommended, but for those who haven’t the means or time, a family member or close friend is a great option.
That’s why surviving suicide should be more like having a baby. Everyone needs a sage, a conduit to keep them connected to the light. Because traveling the path of pain and grief can be extremely dark and disturbing. Trouble is, survivors don’t go around touting that they’re survivors. We would never do that for fear of our beloved memories slipping away.
But it is in this regard that we can be more like experienced mothers, and when we see someone struggling with a feat we’ve already conquered (or even one we’re still battling), step up and step in.
I’ve found that the people who’ve lost someone to suicide make the best soundboards because they say the least hurtful things while I’m trying to make sense of my emotions, aside from those who’ve survived and somehow believe they’ve got it all figured out, that’s often worse.
Those of us who’ve inched ourselves closer and closer to the level of “acceptance” are desperately needed by those who’ve most recently had their entire lives shredded into a million pieces, without the foggiest idea of where to start collecting them again. We’re not needed to tell them how or what to feel, but simply to listen, understand, and connect with their pain.
So my clarion call is first to those who struggle. Find your anchor, someone you can trust will understand, listen, and not judge you. Allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel in order to work your way through living while your loved one is gone. Open up. Go there. Say what you need to say. Feel what you need to feel.
My second call is to survivors who’ve moved far enough along their journey of grief that they’d be able to provide support to others in a healthy, balanced and encouraging way. I’d say if your heart is filled with the desire to strengthen others, then you’re probably in a good enough place to help. Be leery of offering advice, no two grief patterns are the same, just as no two pregnancies are the same. So there will be some advice that just does not apply. Additionally, we’re not trained counselors. We’re simply here to show our love and support.
Suicide Sucks. Let’s Find Hope.
Founder of Suicide Sucks non profit. Visit us at suicidesucks.com to discover more and to support our fight for life.
- Community challenge — If you’ve experienced the loss of someone you love to suicide comment your one-word emotion you’ve been feeling most lately.
If you have questions for me or would like to get in contact, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org