In our survivor group, we hand out a support packet that includes a sheet with simplistic faces expressing emotions. In my second year as a suicide loss survivor, I shared with the group that the emotion I felt most often was not on the sheet--I felt indifferent and stuck in that emotion. A fellow survivor… Continue reading Getting Unstuck by Naming Your Emotions
We often hear the phrase we must do the work to move forward in our grief journey. But what exactly is the work? While everyone grieves in their own unique way, Psychologist J. William Worden provides a framework of four tasks that help us understand how people move through grief in a healthy way.
Suicide is an illness, not a sin. Nobody just calmly decides to end their life by suicide and burden his or her loved ones with that death any more than anyone calmly decides to die of cancer and cause pain. The victim of suicide (in all but rare cases) is a trapped person, caught up in a fiery, private chaos that has its roots both in his or her emotions and in his or her bio-chemistry. Suicide is a desperate attempt to end unendurable pain, akin to one throwing oneself through a window because one’s clothing is on fire.
You’ve probably seen the recent statistics about the suicide epidemic — that suicide rates over all have risen by over 30 percent this century; that teenage suicides are rising at roughly twice that rate; that every year 45,000 Americans kill themselves. And yet we don’t talk about it much. It’s uncomfortable. Some people believe the falsehood that if we talk about suicide, it will plant the idea in the minds of vulnerable people. Many of us don’t know what to say or do. A person may be at risk of dying by suicide when he or she expresses hopelessness or self-loathing, when he or she starts joking about “after I’m gone,” starts giving away prized possessions, seems preoccupied with death, suddenly withdraws or suddenly appears calm after a period of depression, as if some decision has been made.
Bob Riley stressed the importance of using the term "died by suicide" rather than "committed suicide" when referring to suicide victims. "We die of many different things," he said. "We can die of a heart attack but we can also die by suicide. That alone can help a person cope."
Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Father's Day and other religious celebrations and special occasions can all be particularly difficult times after a loved one has died by suicide. There are some steps you can take to help yourself through this time.
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If we don't forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and others for the wounds they have inflicted upon us, we end up crippled with guilt.
Many people feel awkward and nervous when first spending time with a suicide bereaved person. It will take some time to learn how to respond. It is okay to feel awkward but you don't need to let it prevent you showing support.
Grief due to death by suicide is vastly different than grief due to death by cancer.