The best way I can describe grieving over a child as the years go by is to say it’s similar to carrying a stone in your pocket.
Our group member Ted Robbins lost his sixteen-year-old son Christian to suicide this past April. Ted shares that as part of his family's healing they have decided to try and save other kids from losing their life by way of suicide and mental illness.
We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. The advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take… Continue reading Self-Care Makes us Stronger
At the expense of dating myself, there is a children's toy played with back in the day called “A Viewmaster.” You would place a round disc of small pictures on it into this plastic viewer, click a lever to advance the pictures around as you would view them. The Stop Technique will have you select one picture… Continue reading The Stop Technique
Guilt is the one negative emotion that seems to be universal to all survivors of suicide, and overcoming it is perhaps our greatest obstacle on the path to healing. Guilt is your worst enemy because it is a false accusation. You are not responsible for your loved one’s suicide in any way, shape, or form.… Continue reading Survivor’s Guilt
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."