I have had so many things to say in regards to the negative treatment I received after the loss of my daughter. It was quite difficult to understand the complexities of a death from suicide. The grief strikes every portion of your mind, soul, and body - you feel weak, queasy, dazed, numb, and a deep, deep sadness that you are not sure you can ever shake. You wonder if your life will ever be any better than the pile of nothingness that you feel and you wake up everyday and try to deal with those feelings over and over again. You have no answers, you have tons of questions and no one to ask them too, you need to talk - but you are unable to say anything to anyone because you have immediately picked up on the idea that the topic is taboo. You feel so utterly alone and isolated - it is hard to explain to someone who has not gone through the pain. You think of everything you might have said or done that was wrong or right, was there something you missed, you think about what happened over and over again-the image is everywhere. It is in every book, movie, dream, song - everything reminds you of the tragedy and you do not know how to make it stop or even if you want to. You try to remember everything throughout their entire life-all the details, you do not want to forget anything. You look for pictures and memories for each; you try to find mementos to keep because you realize that there is not going to be any new pictures or new mementos. When did I see her last? When did I talk to her last? When was the last time I told her “I love you”? When was the last time I heard the words "mommy"? What was the last gift she got me? What was the last gift I got her? It goes on and on and on. As the months roll by you learn to adjust to all these feelings a little at a time. You start understanding the mental conditions that cause suicide and you find that you have read everything you can on the subject. None of this makes you feel any better, but you do it anyway because you have no choice. You, eventually, learn to carry the grief with dignity, to not be ashamed, and you can see that laughter and joy can be restored even while you think of your missing daughter.
I've learned many things about friendships, death, grief, suicide, family, and love since that tragic day and I would like to share my thoughts on my experiences. The stigmas surrounding suicide and mental health issues keep the survivors from being able to heal properly; it also keeps people from seeking necessary treatment that could prevent suicide all together. The survivors are treated poorly and it's time for that to change. I wish I knew then, all the things I know now about suicide, and maybe I could have told my friends what I needed. The problem is you are so sick with grief that you honestly do not know - you are dependant on someone being thoughtful and caring enough to just step in and do something to help. The one thing that would be most helpful is just to let us talk - we have so much to work through in our minds so we can get to a point where we can begin healing. Friends let us cry and know that you are not the one making us cry - it has nothing to do with you - it's my/our grief. Family do not think that we are NOT thinking of our missing loved ones on holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries - we are always thinking about our loved ones. We can not turn it off - we learn to carry it in silence so as not to disturb others with our tragedy. We certainly would not want to ruin a good time for everyone else - this is why we are so reluctant to accept invitations to outings, dinner, etc. after the funeral.
A survivor should seek professional treatment within the first six months and it is better to let a couple months pass before starting. A survivor needs to find a support group of peers to share their experience with and feel that they are not alone. Even after my 3+ years of being a survivor I still want to be able to feel like I can talk about my daughter, Amber, if I choose. I do not want to make people feel uncomfortable - I think they do that to themselves. Suicide is real, it can touch anyone and we need to stop with the stigmas!
Someone recently asked me what they should do on their loved ones birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays - they are confused about how to act when everyone else seems to have forgotten. I think it truly helps to celebrate with them in your heart and mind. They are not forgotten, they are just not with us - light a candle, release balloon - whatever makes you feel better. The truth is that the others have not forgotten - they simply do not want to upset us and ignoring becomes easier. It is such a huge misunderstanding that we survivors have the power to change. We need to start saying what we need and how we feel, we do not have to pretend that this tragedy did not happen because it makes others uncomfortable - the more easily we mention our loved ones names the easier it will be for everyone.