For my mother, who was killed in a car crash a year and a half prior to my father's death, there were so many cards of condolence, there was food overflowing, people stopping by to say how sorry they were, lots of hugs and sorrow. But for my father, there wasn't a whole lot of that. The funeral was packed, he was a loved man, but no one knew how to say they were sorry so no one said anything, or I should say very few. There was no food brought to the house, no one stopped in to make sure we were doing OK. There is a certain stigma attached to suicide, something that just isn't talked about.
But for me the feelings of losing a parent were the same. Car accident, suicide, it all felt the same in my heart. It hurt. He could have died any other way and it would have felt the same, there would be that piece missing, that hole, the empty feeling. It was raw, it was emotional and I felt like, other than immediate family, I was alone. And I wasn't supposed to talk about it.
I want everyone to know that if you know someone touched by suicide, it hurts. Just say you are sorry for their loss. Reach out. For the suicide loss survivor, know that your feelings are valid, and it is OK to talk about it. For me, I knew why my father was in such a deep depression, but for many they will never know. I can't imagine how hard it is to not know, to wonder why, to be angry. I know that I get angry at my father every once in a while. For leaving me, for leaving my children without a grandparent. I live in that moment and it passes. But I feel it.
I don't know why we have such a stigma about depression, mental health, and suicide. Maybe if we weren't afraid to shed the light on these tough subjects we could figure out better, more productive ways forward. Maybe it would be easier for people to ask for the help they need. Maybe it would have been easier for my father to ask for help.
The answers aren't there yet, but if we talk about it, maybe they will be. So I encourage everyone to talk about it. If you have a story, share it. Speak about it, speak it to the Universe.
There are suggestions for suicide loss survivors, here.
And here are some suggestions if you know a suicide loss survivor. Please don't let them grieve alone. It hurts, and talking about it doesn't make it worse, it won't make them consider suicide. Open that door and reach out, you never know what someone needs until you ask.
And if you don't know already, my family and I are going to walk Out of the Darkness. This is a walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A great organization that works legislatively on mental health care issues as well as education on suicide prevention. Please donate what you can. Any amount will help us reach our goal. Just click the tab below to donate.