As with any sudden or unexpected death, those who have lost a loved one to death by suicide have not had time to say goodbye. This suddenness, coupled with the violence of a death by suicide and common misunderstanding and stigma surrounding the death, can greatly intensify, complicate and extend the time of the grief process. It is important to remember and know that it may be normal for survivors to face guilt about being unable to save the life of their loved one and spend time asking “why” their love one took their own life before being able to move forward in the grief process. Allow them time to accept losing the loved one and time to heal. Survivors may be at increased risk of death by suicide themselves, so please pay close attention to their actions and thoughts. Family and friends can provide support for normal grief process and minimize complicated grief and guilt reactions. Try to encourage the person who lost the loved one to explore community resources and contact mental health providers for assistance.
You can help by spotting warning signs of suicide. Here’s a few to keep in mind:
1.Preoccupation with death and dying
2.Drastic changes in behavior or personality
3.A recent severe loss (such as a relationship) or threat of a loss
4.Unexpected preparations for death such as making out a will
5.Giving away prized possessions
6.A previous suicide attempt
7.Uncharacteristic impulsiveness, recklessness, or risk-taking
8.Loss of interest in personal appearance
9.Increased use of alcohol or drugs
10.Sense of hopelessness about the future
As the season is about to change, I think of all the things that happen. As we head into fall, summer vacations are over and the kids head back to school. Football’s in high gear. It’s starting to get colder in the mornings and dark sooner in the evenings. It has been almost eight months since my daughter died. I’d be telling a fib if I said I didn’t still miss her immensely. It would be a lie to say that I didn’t still cry almost everyday. But, it is getting a little easier for me as time goes by. When someone you love dies, a piece of you dies with them. You have to get to a place where when you think of them it does not make you sad. When you think of them and their memory, you feel the love instead of the pain of losing them. No one can say or do anything that can stop the pain you feel. You have to remain strong and remember that your loved one loved you and they would want you to be happy. The last time I had seen most of my family was at my daughter’s funeral and I recently seen a lot of them at my sister’s wedding. It was beautiful and such a joyous time. I was so happy for my sister and to see my loved ones, but, my daughter’s presence was strongly missed. How could my sister get married and she not be there? How weird. I know my family was glad to see me still in one piece but, I could tell that they wanted to feel me out first before they engaged in conversation with me. Weird. But, I guess what I’m saying is, I made it through that day and only time helped me. When I look back to the day she died, I was such a mess! I probably would have been too sad to even go to my sister’s wedding if it was right after Aris’ death. I can only be concerned with how I react to my daughter’s death because I cannot change that she’s gone. I will continue to honor her memory and get myself back one day at a time as the seasons change.
When someone you love passes away, you are devastated. Especially when it is “out of the blue.” Even worse – when they commit suicide. September 10, 2013 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Join me on September 10 at 8pm, in lighting a candle to show support for those who lost someone to suicide and to promote suicide prevention. You could help save a life just by being aware!