They say that the grief process for someone who loses a loved in a car accident or to suicide is very similar. The correlation being the unexpected loss, the inability to prepare for the unthinkable, the sudden stop of life that leaves you with whiplash.
I lost my Mom to cancer when I was 6 years old
Even then, seeing my Mom in the hospital frail and fragile, I knew it wasn’t good. I didn’t know what death meant at the time, but I knew it was forever. I knew if I lost my Mom I would never see her again. I prepared myself as a child for the grim reality of the dark side to life, that one day no matter who you are it will end.
When I lost my Dad to suicide in 2014, there was no preparation, no moment to realize that he would no longer be here, no time to grasp the reality that I would never see him again. I woke up to an unexpected phone call that he was gone. I went into the deep dark crevasse of grief.
I hid from the light because in that moment all I wanted to feel was darkness and pain. That feeling of pain was the last remaining thing I had of my Dad. I was scared that if I let go of the pain I would let go of him.
The stigma attached to suicide is from a lack of understanding. Suicide for most is a dirty word that is a synonym for selfishness, never to be spoken of and locked away behind closed doors. Mental illnesses are like a cancer. Just like cancers, if left untreated, they slowly eat away at a person’s ability to live until one day they’re no longer here.
The hardest part of dealing with grief after suicide is the what if. What if you had done something different, would they still be here? The answer unfortunately is: no, there is nothing you could have done. It’s easy to feel responsible.
My Dad told me he was going to take his life, but I didn’t believe him.
Most who lose their life to suicide never utter a word about it beforehand. You have to forgive yourself and know that they knew you loved them unconditionally.
Grief after a suicide is like fighting a war
Some days you will feel like you can storm the trenches and conquer the day. Other days you will feel like all you do is take enemy fire until you’re left with an empty hole in your heart. No matter what side of the war you are on the important part is to keep fighting. You have to not only see yourself as a survivor, but a warrior who can fight on.
As hard as it is, you have to talk about your loss. You have to feel the pain and not tuck it away. You have to realize it is okay to keep their memory alive, the good times and the bad times.
Every little perfection and imperfection of their life while they were alive you have to embrace. Life might have hit the brakes the moment you lost your loved one. I promise you though it is okay to start moving forward again.