The suicide of a loved one is one of the most painful ways to lose someone. There are ways to survive the pain of their death and deal with the loss.
I Remember When
I remember the day we got the life-changing call stating that my Uncle had been found dead. We got the news on May 1, 1999, my dad’s birthday. That day my life changed forever. For months I went through the motions of life wondering, wishing, and hoping for answers as to why my Uncle decided to take his own life. To this day I still wish he was here with us taking us to Great America (Amusement Park in CA) and the baseball games. I still wonder what his life would be like if he were here, who he would have married, and how many kids he would have had. Uncle Dave was more than an uncle to me, he was an older brother.
After losing my uncle to suicide I am convinced this is the MOST PAINFUL way to lose someone in your life. With the suicide of a loved one, there are so many unanswered questions and puzzle pieces to try and fit together, but that no one really knows the answer to. Like if you will see them again and if they killed themselves for reasons you could have helped them with. You are left wondering if you could have done more and if you would have done more would they still be here with you?
Suicide is something that a family will never fully recover from. You will always be left with constant grief, guilt, pain, and sadness.
With the suicide of a loved one, there are several emotions that family members go through.
I remember feeling numb at first. I remember hearing people talk, but not really taking in the words they were saying. I remember for months just sort of going through the motions of life, trying to get through each day thinking at any moment I was going to wake up from this horrible nightmare and see him again.
I remember after the shock wore off being angry.
I was so angry at him. I was so mad that he did this. My family all dealt with my Uncle’s death differently. We all sort of reached out to other people, rather than bonding together to get through it. I reached out to a boyfriend “who loved me” and gave me the support that I needed at the time. My Uncle’s death changed our family, and I was mad at him for doing this.
I was angry at myself too. I was angry feeling as though I should have somehow known at 16 that there was a problem that I could have helped him with.
My family faced so much guilt over my Uncle’s death. What if we would have had him up for dad’s birthday dinner? If only we would have seen him a little more. If only we would have known he was suffering, we could have helped. What if we would have called him more… Would he still be here with us?
For months, even years we tried to make sense as to why he did what he did. We tried to understand what was so hard in his life and worth ending it forever. We tried to understand why he didn’t reach out to anyone for help. We tried to understand why he didn’t leave a note and give us some sort of peace to live with. There was nothing, just a bunch of unanswered questions. To this day there is still confusion; I don’t think this ever goes away entirely.
Through my experience, I wish I would have known these 6 things to help get through the suicide of a loved one.
I know we always want to save everyone, especially the ones we love, but sometimes we can’t save them because they don’t want to be helped or saved. This is not to say that we should not try, but we need to not constantly live with the guilt that we should have done more. We must also accept that we might never have the answers we are desperately searching for.
Get Help Right Away
When dealing with the suicide of a loved one, seek help, professional help. Professional help will help you cope with the grief you feel. They will help you make sense of what has happened and how to overcome it… I didn’t do this, I wish I would have had this help… I was just left wondering why… Even if you think you don’t need help, seek it.
It took a long time for me to forgive myself for what “I should have done” and it took me even longer to forgive my uncle for what he did do. I blamed things I did in my life on his death. I became a different person after his death. When I was finally able to understand that there was nothing I could have done and I was able to forgive myself half the weight that I had carried for years was lifted. The other weight was lifted when I chose to forgive him for leaving us and making us go through that. When I was able to forgive I was able to become who I used to be.
Talk About It
18 years ago there was a stigma that you don’t talk about the suicide of a loved one and in fact, if someone committed suicide in your family then you were just as crazy as the person who did it. I remember my friends looking at me funny because they just had no idea what to say to me, which made me keep it inside even more because I didn’t want to be “different”, especially in high school. The more you talk about it and the more open you are about it, the easier it is for you to get through it.
With all things, it gets better over time. The first 5 years after my Uncle’s death we couldn’t even talk about him without crying. On my Dad’s birthday we never felt like celebrating because we would only think of the tragedy, but now we can talk about my Uncle and what a wonderful life he had and we love to celebrate my Dad’s birthday even though in the back of our minds we still remember what happened that day so many years ago.
When I finally overcame my feelings of grief, hurt, anger, and pain, we celebrated his life. We celebrated the amazing person he was. I never wanted to forget his kindness and charity he showed the world. He was always so happy and for this reason, I wanted to always remember him. When I had my first born son I knew I wanted his middle name to be David so that we could remember his legacy forever.
Suicide not only ends your life forever, but it changes the lives of the people you leave behind forever. If you are suffering and need help please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!