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On Suicide Grief

I know all about it, have experienced it to the fullest capacity and now I want to help you.

Just over a year and a half ago, the man I was hopelessly in love with, took his life. One could say that I hardly knew him as our time was short, but one could also say that I was one of the people who knew him best as he didn’t share much about his mental illness. He did with me; he had to as I was one of the people trying to save him. There were only two of us; TWO who knew the crisis he was going through and we did whatever we could but it wasn’t enough.

I loved him. I adored him and we were just getting starting with something that could have been really wonderful.

During the first few months after Brian’s death, I went through all the normal grieving emotions plus a few extras because suicide grief is very complicated. I could have used a coach who knew what I was going through to help understand just how many changes would happen (and they happen almost immediately). Grief changes you. It may be in small ways or massive ways.

There were several counsellors and psychologists that offered up a few suggestions but no one said: "Carrie, be ready, you are going to become a different version of you and you’ve already started the process." Don’t get me wrong, they were great people and they helped…but none of them had ever gone through the process of losing someone to suicide. It’s quite a thing, let me tell you.

No one said: be prepared, because although you need people to listen to you (over and over) and you need people to be extra sensitive, most of them won’t be. No one mentioned that family and friends were going to say cruel things to you and that you’d be told to ‘just get over it and move on’ and that the one you loved would be insulted and labeled: selfish.

It would have been helpful if I’d been somewhat prepared for this. In the end, I searched the internet endlessly for help and I did find some. I bought a book, joined an online community with like-people. It didn’t really help ‘me’ that much as I really needed one-on-one time with someone who truly understood and had some solid words of wisdom.

If I were to offer any up to those that may read this and are currently experiencing suicide bereavement it would be the following:

  • It will get better but not for a long, long time. You will have moments of clarity and peace but then you’ll be flushed right back down into the hellish pain you probably already know well.

  • Consider seeing Medium - but only when you're ready and you've given yourself time to walk with your grief and time for our loved one to acclimate to the other side (our real home). This is not a plug – I can suggest a few excellent ones besides myself. When I did, the weight that was lifted off of me (if only for a while) was incredible. It was like taking a fresh breath of clean mountain air after drowning in a sea of sorrow.

  • Work with someone to help you through your changes so when you come out the other end, you’ll be on solid ground rather than drifting aimlessly and directionless.

  • It’s okay to burst into tears when something reminds you of them. I still do it and I suspect will continue to do this for some time.

  • Don’t bury your emotions, OWN them. Walk through the fire because if you don’t, it will find you, one day, and it will burn a lot hotter.

  • Think about what the New You might look like. I didn’t have a clear vision but knew I had to do something different with my life. I wasn’t the same software sales gal, I’d been for 29 years. I knew I needed to do something different and, more importantly, I knew I had to MAKE a difference. This may not be you and that’s okay…but you will be different.

  • Be so very kind and gentle to yourself. Create a network of people who will support you and please, please stay away from people who don’t. This might be hard (longtime friendships may end and some of mine did) but you’ve experience something so BIG, emotionally, and it’s going to be with you for the rest of your life.

  • DO, see a grief counsellor because they will help. I still see mine, occasionally and it's good to know that she's there when I need her.

There is a ton of advice I could give but I think one of the most important words I can write to you is:

It wasn’t your fault.

Guilt is normal and I feel it ALL the time, but deep in my soul, I realize there was just nothing I could do to stop him. Even if I’d remembered my damn phone and gotten his text, I would have been too late…OR he would have done it at a different time when I could not have been there.

It is not your fault.

Someone you loved made a choice, albeit, a terrible one. But – it was their choice – to stay and fight…or to leave. As difficult as this is, we are not in control of someone else's fate.

Believe me, it’s not your fault. You did everything you could and they are and always will be forever grateful for your love.

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