In our support groups we teach recovery and acceptance – those words are hard words to hear after a loss to suicide and it is important to understand the intent of our teachings.
Recovery or recover does not mean to recover from our loss, but to recover from the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that we are experiencing due to our loss, to regain our strength, to regain our balance. We have just been thrown into a whirlwind of pain, fear, and unthinkable grief.
Acceptance does not mean that we agree with what has happened or that we approve...it is meant only to say that we accept the REALITY of our horrible loss. The reality of our loss is extremely difficult to accept, but until we do we are unable to begin our healing process. When I say healing I do not mean that our tragedies will go unnoticed or be forgotten, or that we simply pretend that they never happened and our lives are as normal as the next. I am saying just the opposite - I believe that when we begin to accept our new reality (complete with this new life and this new person that we have become), that we can begin to heal (or recover). Through this healing we learn to understand the importance of honoring our loved ones, to talk of our tragedies to promote prevention, and to aid other survivors.
It is true that we change after our loss, and it continues for many years to come and we become masters at not making others uncomfortable because of our pain and loss. Our masks can come off and go on with great ease and with skill, due to the many practice sessions we have had as the months go by.
Many say we should "move on" or "get over it" - I do not agree with these statements. They sound so insensitive and minimize the real pain that we have felt and are feeling. Those words have no relevance at all in our case---none of it applies. The life we knew is different in almost every way. This is why so many of the survivors develop a variety of anxiety disorders - our world has been turned upside down.
God has been an important part of my healing - without God I am certain that I would still be crying much of the time, still be afraid of almost everything, and be without hope. This grief has made me go through a self discovery phase that I had never planned on, and a search for answers to questions that I would have not considered before my loss. God was the only answer for me – I did not have to wear my mask, God already knew me before my loss and after, and all that was left - to know myself through God’s eyes.
What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
- Helen Keller