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|06-25-2004, 08:27 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Surviving Suicide-for Loved Ones
Surviving the suicide of a loved one is one of the most difficult challenges one will ever face. The "survivors," the ones whom suicide leaves behind, are besieged with intense grief. This grief hurts desperately, but must be borne. The grief that comes with suicide is unique. And so, these pages are written for the survivors and for those who want to help the survivors. It is hoped that these ideas will help one work through the grief and rebuild one's life. Remember that grief is like snowflakes or fingerprints. It is different for everyone. Choose the suggestions that may be helpful to you.
Suggestions for Helping Yourself Survive
In addition to the help of relatives, friends, and possibly a counselor, the survivor must make efforts to help him/her self. You are the one who sets the pace and limits of your grief. To some extent, you can shorten or lengthen the process of grief depending on your willingness to work through the grief.
Lean into the grief. You can't go around it, over it, or under it. You have to go through it to survive. It is important to face the full force of the pain. Be careful not to get stuck at some phase. Keep working on your grief.
As soon as you are able, begin to deal with the facts of suicide. The longer that the facts are avoided or denied, the more difficult the recovery could be. Get the facts straight about the suicide - - whats, whys, and hows. To know the facts relieves the survivor's doubts and allows them to face the truth. It is important to be honest with oneself and face the reality that the death was a suicide.
It may be helpful to make reference to the suicide at the funeral.
The emotions of a survivor are often raw. It is important to let these feelings out. If you don't let your feelings out now, they will come out some other time, some other way. That is certain. You won't suffer nearly as much from "getting too upset" as you will from being brave and keeping your honest emotions all locked up inside. Share your "falling to pieces" with supportive loved ones, as often as you feel the need.
You may have psychosomatic complaints which are physical problems brought on by an emotional reaction. The physical problems are real. Take steps to remedy them.
Don't be afraid to ask for help from those close to you when you need it. So much hurt and pain go unheeded during grief because we don't want to bother anyone else with our problems. Wouldn't you want someone close to you to ask for help if they needed it? Some relatives and friends will not be able to handle your grief. Find someone with whom to talk. Seek out an understanding friend, survivor, or support group member.
Most survivors feel it is important to see their dead loved one at the time of the death and funeral. Otherwise there can always be that nagging doubt "Is my loved one really dead?" Grief may take longer because the reality of the death isn't faced. Survivors often stay longer in denial when they have not seen with their own eyes.
Keep a daily diary of your thoughts and feelings.
Don't be afraid to say the word suicide. It may take months to be able to say it, but keep trying.
For some survivors there is a tendency to withdraw to their room, isolate themselves from friends and family, and constantly dwell on their feelings. This may be helpful initially, but not when carried to an extreme.
Some survivors throw themselves into their work or take flight in activity. This prevents the person from dealing with the grief. Save time to face your grief.
Thinking that you are going crazy is very normal. Most grieving people experience this. Remind yourself that you are not losing your mind but are reacting to a devastating blow.
Don't assume that everyone is blaming you or thinking ill of you. They probably are hurt for you but don't know what to say or how to say it.
Be prepared that relatives may say seemingly cruel or thoughtless things because of their own pain, frustration, or anger.
Do not be afraid to tell those around you exactly how you feel. You may need to remind another that you are not quite yourself. Tell them how much you appreciate their patience and understanding.
Some feel that the less said the better and that everyone should try to forget. Studies show this to be the least effective and usually the most damaging approach. Survivors need to release their feelings and resolve their questions, not lock their troubles deep inside.
Work on guilt. Something beyond your control has happened. Blaming oneself for the actions of another is illogical and dangerously self damaging.
Read recommended literature on suicide and grief. The reading will not solve all of your pain and questions, but it does offer understanding and suggestions for coping.
If grief is intense and prolonged, it may harm your physical and mental well being. If it is necessary, seek out a competent counselor. Check to see if your health insurance covers the charges. It is important to take care of yourself. Then you can be of help to your family also.
In a time of severe grief be extremely careful in the use of either alcohol or prescription drugs. Tranquilizers don't end the pain; they only mask it. This may lead to further withdrawal, loneliness, and even addiction. Grief work is best done when you are awake, not drugged into sleepiness.
It helps to admit our mistakes. We are human. There is so much that we tried to do. There are things we did not do. Accepting our imperfections aids us in working out our grief.
|06-25-2004, 08:28 PM||#2 (permalink)|
If you feel guilt, ask yourself what things specifically are bothering you the most. Talk over your feelings of guilt with a trusted friend or professional, or confess your guilt to God. Telling the truth about why you feel guilty will help. Forgive yourself, ask the forgiveness of your loved one, and of God. Then try to realize what happened is past. There is nothing that you can do about it now. Become determined to live life to the best of your ability now. God's forgiveness should help us to begin to forgive ourselves.
You can learn from your guilt and adopt a new lifestyle for the future. From past mistakes you may be able to change for the better.
Depression is common to those in grief. Be aware of withdrawing from others and isolating yourself. You may even consider suicide yourself. Be sure to get counseling help if you feel this way.
Some survivors find it helpful to give the clothes to the needy and to rearrange furniture. Be cautious about moving. Later, after the pain subsides, you may regret moving from the happy memories.
It may be beneficial to concentrate on helping other family members and friends, but don't ignore problems that may be building inside you.
Take an empty chair and put a picture of your loved one in it. Tell all your feelings about what happened, remember the good times, and tell of your guilt. It is a way of articulating those confusing thoughts and finishing unfinished business.
It is easy and understandable to feel sorry for yourself, but, unchecked, self-pity can lead to anger, bitterness, and depression.
Some survivors build a wall around themselves because they are afraid of being hurt again. They miss so much of life this way. It is important to love and enjoy the people in your life instead of distancing from them.
Become involved in the needs of other people. Doing things for others builds one's self confidence and self-worth.
Join a self-help support group. Such groups offer understanding, friendship, and hope. Surviving Suicide, a support group for adult survivors, meets at Central Christian Church (3375 S Mojave Road 702/735-4004) on the first and third Tuesday of each month. The Suicide Prevention Center of Clark County also provides a Survivors of Suicide support group. Information about that group is available by calling the Suicide Prevention Hot Line at 731-2990. A volunteer will return your call.
Don't become discouraged that you are alone in your grief. Sometimes it is helpful to contact other survivors of a suicide. When you read about a suicide in the paper you may want to write a short note to the survivors and give your phone number.
If appropriate, encourage community education on what it is like to survive the suicide of a loved one. Many people truly care but they don't know what to do or say.
Your anger may be directed at the deceased, yourself, others, God, or you may just feel angry. It is extremely important to get the anger out. This may be done by going to a remote spot and screaming, chopping wood, hitting a punching bag, playing tennis, swimming, pounding a pillow, etc. Anger that is not recognized and directed outward may turn back on you. Such anger unleashed at ourselves is very harmful.
It is best to be honest with your close friends about the suicide. If you aren't honest with them, then you will always wonder if and how much they know. You won't be able to lean on your friends, and this leads to isolation and loneliness.
It is helpful to consider that usually the victim wanted to stay and to live. Yet, at the same time, he or she couldn't live, so, in confusion, gave in to suicide.
At the anniversary of the suicide, birthday, and special holidays get together with a few understanding friends or relatives, or somehow find a way to escape the full brunt of the occasion. It is important to plan the day. It won't be great, but it can be less painful if you don't expect too much of yourself or others.
It is not helpful to compare yourself to another survivor of suicide. It may not seem that you are adjusting as well as they are. Remember that no two people go through grief alike.
If you are troubled and don't know where to turn, call a 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hot Line. In Las Vegas that telephone number is 731-2990.
Remember the commandment "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself." Of all the times in your life this is one where you need to take gentle care of yourself as you would care for someone else trying to survive.
The best remedy for heartache is to lead as happy a life as possible. You and your genuine friends understand that you have done your best to work though your grief and now you are trying to reinvest in life. If others don't understand, don't worry about them. Surviving and rebuilding your life is what is important.
When you are ready, aim at regaining a healthy, balanced life by broadening your interests. As a survivor you should take time to think through which activities can bring you some degree of purpose. Remember to start slowly and move carefully in this direction - with friends who are supportive and understanding. Think about taking up something you've always wanted to do: going back to school; volunteering; joining church groups; community projects; or hobby clubs.
Practice taking one moment - one day- at a time. Say to yourself, "I have decided to live!" Recognize that you have been hit with a terrible tragedy and yet you have still survived.
You had no choice and no control over the suicide but you do have a choice to survive and live through it. It may be the hardest task that you will ever have to perform, but you will survive!
|06-25-2004, 08:31 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Suggestions for Coping As a Family
It is important to sit down together to talk, cry, rage, feel guilty and even to be silent. Communication is the key to survival in the aftermath of suicide. At the same time there should be respect for each person's individual way of handling grief. Some family members will grieve privately, others openly, and others a combination of these two styles. In many ways each family member must grieve alone. Here are some suggestions to help with family grief.
Pay attention to your family members when you're with them. Let them know that you love them.
Be sensitive to how other family members feel.
Listen to what is meant as well as what is being said.
Accept the other person and what they say.
Don't give each other the silent treatment. This has many negative effects.
Sit back and listen. Let other family members have an opportunity to talk.
Be sure to hug and touch each other at every opportunity.
If depression, grief, or problems in your family are getting out of control, seek the advice of a counselor.
Recognize that anniversaries, birthdays and special holidays will be difficult for the family and each member of the family.
Remember you can't help anyone if you are falling apart. Do what you can do, get help for what you can't do, and trust in the help that God gives.
Studies show that a bereaved person's self-esteem is extremely low. Survivors should work on their image of themselves and help each family member to think and feel good about themselves.
If there is a suicide note, discuss as a family what to do with it. If you think it will only bring you pain, then have a private burning and commit its contents to God.
|06-25-2004, 08:31 PM||#4 (permalink)|
To The Newly Bereaved After Suicide
By LaRita Archibald, Founder of HEARTBEAT
Groups for mutual support for survivors in the aftermath of suicide
2015 Devon Street, Colorado Springs CO 80909
Grieving is a unique, lonely, extremely painful process with each individual working through their own space at their own pace, but it is comforting to know what helped others who have experienced the anguish in the aftermath of a loved one's suicide.
"GIVE SORROW WORDS. GRIEF HAS NEED TO SPEAK, LEST WHISPER THE O'ER FRAUGHT HEART AND BID IT BREAK". Wm. Shakespeare/Macbeth
Talk! Talk! Talk! Speak of your pain and loss for as long and as often as you need to speak of it.
Be with your grief. Don't suppress, avoid, or postpone grief's expression. Let yourself feel it! Cry! Tears are cathartic and cleansing. Friends/extended family feel helpless faced with the magnitude of the loss and grief, try to soothe, may even plead with bereaved not to cry. Don't suppress your grief to spare others distress. If you are reluctant to express your pain in others presence, provide uninterrupted time each day to reflect upon the life shared, your loss and grief...a time to weep. Plan this private time during the day, allowing yourself some pleasant distraction during the pre-bedtime hours. In this manner you manage your grief well, allow healing without the discomfort of believing your grief expression imposes upon others.
Let your friends give what they offer..to be with you, to share a meal, to run errands, to listen to your heartbreak. When you feel the times of being alone are unbearable call upon them. Friends extend "Let me know how I can help?" and most are sincere. By calling on friends when we need help we give them an opportunity to share our burden. On the other hand, if we don't accept help offerings, we may send the message that no help is needed and that future offers are an intrusion.
We seldom feel like accepting invitations, often for a long time, but consider being with your closest friends/family at small dinner parties, movies, concerts, sports events etc. So what if you lose your composure. These social events provide the mind momentary respite from what has happened and are a useful focus when sleep is elusive or tormenting memories are overwhelming.
There is nothing funny about suicide or the death of someone we love but there is healing power in humor. It's O.K. to laugh. Laughter is healthy and healing. It releases chemicals that enhance ones sense of well-being. Laughter relaxes and rests us. Laughter reassures our wounded psyche. Provide an opportunity for laughter by being with fun-loving people, watch a good comedy show or rent a nonsensical movie. Don't expect films with a theme of violence, sex or societal issues to be relaxing.
Re-establish routine in your life as soon as possible. People thrive on orderliness in their lives and a loved one's death disturbs this orderliness in the most devastating manner possible. Re-establishing routine is a major, necessary step in reaffirming life's continuance and future well-being. For those who are confronted constantly by the absence of the family member re-establishing routine means redistribution of household chores and living arrangements. Adjusting to a loved one's death means many heartbreaking, but necessary changes from life as it once was.
Acute grieving depletes energy, leaving little concern for good grooming. It may take great effort and determination to shower, shave, arrange one's hair, makeup and dress each morning but caring for one's physical appearance is a critical step toward restoring well-being, balance and orderliness to one's life.
Provide the best opportunity for restful sleep by avoiding stimulants throughout the evening. Exercise is natures anti-depressant and enhances sleep opportunity but should be done in the late afternoon. Caffeinated foods, including chocolate and most carbonated drinks, are sleep robbers. Alcohol is a depressant that magnifies an already depressed state of mind; it does not contribute to restful, uninterrupted sleep. It masks feelings, lowers inhibition and deprives one of control. Alcohol consumption should be avoided during acute grief.
Take the best possible care of yourself...of your emotional being, your mental, spiritual and physical being. Eat properly..Don't allow yourself to get too hungry or to go without meals. Try not to overeat. Often we experience a gnawing, empty feeling that we mistake as hunger and seek to fill that void with food that may be hard to digest or upsetting. Become informed of both the dynamics of grief and of suicide so your grief is not unnecessarily complicated by myths, fears and biases. Pace yourself. This process is aptly called "grief work" and it is truly the most exhausting task your emotions, mind or your physical body will ever be called upon to do. You may experience some physical symptoms, for grief often manifests itself physically. Do not dismiss physical symptoms...see a doctor.
Grief and the work place. For many bereaved it is an economic necessity to return to work as soon as the funeral is over. Others return to work soon as a means of keeping mentally occupied and find solace in their work. Some postpone returning to their job fearing the additional stress created by work. Work can be helpful in restoring routine in one's life. Most employers are compassionate and sympathetic. Some have firsthand knowledge of loss and grief and extend encouragement and understanding. Others have a very unrealistic opinion of how long it takes to "get over" a family members death and may not be tolerant of mistakes, preoccupation or quick trips to the bathroom to dry tears. It is advisable to discuss your limits and concerns with your employer, perhaps arrive at a compromise whereby you are allowed to work a few hours a day in the beginning.
Suicidal Thoughts Are Scary. When someone we love dies we are overwhelmed by the pain of loss and by fear of the future without them. We may believe we cannot endure the intensity of the pain. For a time, we may not wish to. After suicide the surviving family members have been shown the worst possible example of how one can end pain and problems and one may view ending their life as a way to stop hurting. It is normal to want to escape the pain of loss and grief and not abnormal to think of ending one's life to escape it. But there is considerable difference between having suicidal thoughts and acting upon them. If you are obsessed with thoughts of killing yourself, begin to seriously consider means of ending your life or you believe you don't deserve to live due to some circumstance surrounding the loved one's death, see a mental health professional without delay. Don't compound the loss and magnify the grief of others by this manner of resolving your own.
What's normal. What's not. Grief, as we are taught to understand it, is intensely distorted when suicide is the cause of death. You may question whether your feelings are normal. Most likely they are and you are experiencing normal emotional reactions to an abnormal occurrence...suicide. Grief after suicide is often very effectively addressed within the safe, understanding environment of a suicide survivor support group. Never hesitate to seek professional counseling.
|06-25-2004, 08:38 PM||#5 (permalink)|
REFLECTIONS OF A SURVIVOR
Roadmap For An Unplanned Trip
How Did I Get Here?
Suddenly you're on a road you did not choose. Something happens. Life happens. A toddler drowns in the family pool, a young husband dies unexpectedly, a precious baby's heart stops just before he is born, the light of a mother's eye is taken from her by a cruel disease, a spouse leaves a marriage after many years, a fragile young man commits suicide.
Where Am I Going?
You're on the road and there is no turning back. You begin your journey with a shock absorbing patch of fog which gently eases you on. As your vision clears, you see that your path is paved with draining emotions and difficult choices. An initial stretch of anger and fear can lead you on a side trip of resentment, bitterness, and panic - or it can provide you with energy, power, and protection for the rest of your trip. A few miles of guilt and shame can lead to a left turn of lies, unforgiveness, and feelings of worthlessness - or they can help you maintain your system of values and make you responsible and accountable for your mistakes and your imperfections. The inevitable and recurring sections of tears and sadness can delay your journey with immobilizing depression - or they can provide the necessary healing for your emotional wounds and restore your joy.
Am I There Yet?
Gradually, when some time has passed, you begin to find your road easier to travel. Emotions are less intense and decisions are easier to make. You are in the final stretch, that of acceptance and restoration. You realize that you are stronger because of the lessons you have learned out of your experience, and you are grateful for the loving support that God has provided for your journey. More importantly - according to God's plan - and after you have traveled for a season - you turn back and retrace your steps. You meet your fellow traveler along the way and you share your experience, strength, and hope with him. Thus, you may help ease his pain and give your pain and your journey a higher purpose.
|06-25-2004, 08:40 PM||#6 (permalink)|
<TABLE BORDER=6 CELLPADDING=10 CELLSPACING=4>
<TD><STRONG><CENTER><FONT COLOR="#770000">ROADBLOCKS TO RECOVERY<BR><I>What makes this so difficult?</I></FONT></CENTER></STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>They <I>chose </I>to end their life</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Forced to face difficult reality</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Adjustment to living alone</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Finding the body</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Not being able to see the body</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Unanswered questions (WHY?)</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Method of suicide</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Healing too slowly</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Healing too fast</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Fear of losing others</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>No one wants to hear about suicide</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Wounds from family history</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Wounds from the relationship</STRONG><BR>
<TD> <STRONG><CENTER><FONT COLOR="#770000">STEPPING STONES TO RECOVERY<BR><I>What do I do with the difficulties?</I></FONT></CENTER></STRONG><BR>
<STRONG><I>Choose</I> to survive a day at a time</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Take responsibility for yourself</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Take care of yourself</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Let others take care of you</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Ask for what you need and want</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Make decisions as a family</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Get a survival plan</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Give yourself time</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Talk about the suicide</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Talk about the victim</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Write about the suicide</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Write letters to the victim</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Read about suicide</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Read about personal growth</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Read about the grieving process</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Give yourself permission to grieve</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Take a walk</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Take a trip </STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Feel all of your feelings</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Find safe friends </STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Talk about your feelings</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Take some risks</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Learn to trust</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Join a survivors support group</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Talk to a counselor</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Consider medication if prescribed</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Heal some historical wounds</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Serenely accept what you can't change</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Courageously change what you can</STRONG><BR>
<STRONG>Ask for wisdom to know the difference </STRONG><BR>
|06-25-2004, 11:01 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Don't get undies in a bunch
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: South Shore MA
Lost my best friend through suicide.
Remember feelings of guilt...
why wasn't I there to stop it?
why wasn't I more a friend and intervined before this happened?
I can see when his life started a downward turn. Was after we both started getting busy with our own individual family. Stopped doing the things we did together as friends. Every weekend became once a month, then maybe 2 times a year we would get together...go fishing or hunting or just hand out for a BBQ.
After the emotions settled a little, I was able to see the truth.
I couldn't be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to prevent something I knew nothing about.
As it was, he was in jail at the time so unless I was with him in the cell at that moment...I couldn't have stopped it anyways.
Seeing things after they happen, we can see so clearly.
Looking at his life as life was happening... I didn't have a thought such a thing would be. Nore did his wife.
Kevin's children are now grown. His wife is doing fine with life (just had a visit with her about 2 weeks past)
To live life and be able to say you truly had one very close, good friend, you are so much more blessed then most people.
Kevin...thank you for being that friend. Do miss you but I also carry you in my thoughts and heart.
I know it was your battle to fight and I know that if you were able you would have asked for help in the battle. Illness of the mind didn't allow that. Not of your doing nore of my lack of doing. Rest well my friend.
* I asked God to spare me pain.
God said "No", Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
Recovery Related Acronym
B. E. S. T. = Been Enjoying Sobriety Today?
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