Understanding the grief of suicide

Death is not easy on a regular basis, but death becomes tainted and shame-faced when described as a suicide. It’s hard to be left under such messy circumstances. You feel that somehow you failed to do your part. It feels as if the world sits in judgment, which only underscores the wracking guilt that hammers at you incessantly. You feel so responsible. You think you could have done something differently – made a move or said different words that might have tipped the balance in favor of life.

And you are angry, angry with a capital A, and, then, guilty because you are so angry. You loved them. You cared. Wasn’t your love enough? Did they think about you? How could they?

You feel sad, heartbroken, confused, and, even, numb. You have been sucker-punched in the heart, and you are reeling in shock and disbelief.

Your world is no longer the same. There is no clock, no formula, no standard operating procedure.  It takes as long as it takes. Your healing journey is unique to you. In grief, you remember and sift and sort through the good and not-so-good memories, feelings, history, and artifacts of a life.

This grief is akin to putting on your hip waders and walking into the deep, murky water of your psyche, the home of your inner life. There are churning emotions and roiling thoughts along with forgotten bits and pieces. The footing is rocky, uneven, and unpredictable. You never quite know what will slide up against you or tangle your footing. There is so much you cannot see or discern beneath the waters. You move slowly and tentatively forward, sweeping debris and sludge away from your person, and choking back tears. Sometimes, you stand stock-still until there is enough fortitude to take another step. It’s an arduous, crazy-making process. And it’s a game-changer, too. Your worldview is forever changed, and your heart gets re-assembled as well.

Did you know that the impact of suicidal loss is so bad you, too, could end up feeling suicidal? The taboo has been broken. And there are the memories, what you saw and envisioned.  Your mind takes you on deep, dark missions. You can torture yourself into a tight corner and end up feeling alone, devastated, and without the wherewithal to go forward.

Being a survivor of a suicidal loss is an enormous emotional undertaking full of complicated grief and trauma. Please be very gentle with yourself. Honor yourself by taking all the time you need. Ask for the kind of support and help that would serve you best.

Grief is a very personal process. Your feelings lead the way. Grief also serves as the bittersweet reminder of love and how to love.

The poet, Rumi, might have said it best, “Break my heart, oh break it again, so I can love more fully.