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I’m a member of an exclusive club.
Unfortunately, it’s not the type of club people are beating down the door trying to get into. To the world, we’re known as “suicide survivors.” To those with this exclusive title, we’re just trying to make it through each day with a little less grief and sorrow than the day before.
Some days, the pain hits you like a wave. Others, it hits like a tsunami. No matter the extent of the pain, it always seems to be present. It’s in the moment of silence, where your mind isn’t thinking about it but your body knows something is missing. It’s in the grocery store when you pass by their favorite snack or that drink they couldn’t resist. It’s in the car rides where that one song comes on which reminds you of the person you love who took their life. That person who felt that their life was no longer worth living.
If you’re a “suicide survivor,” you know there’s no way to describe the pain to those who have never felt it. The constant ache you have in your heart. The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you think about all the things you didn’t do, and all the things you did. The way your breath catches and your heart stops each time you say those three little words: “he killed himself.”
To those of you who know this pain and feel it each day, I’m here to tell you this: you are a survivor.
Each and every day, you are surviving a loss that seems unbearable. And as hard as each day may be, you can get through it. In the moments where you blame yourself and the guilt is overwhelming, know that you did the best you could—whether you think it or not. During the times where you’re walking down that grocery store aisle and see that snack, buy it and take a huge bite. When you hear that song come over the radio, sing it at the top of your lungs.
Welcome to the suicide survivors club, I’m sorry you’re here. Your life has changed, but it is not over. Remember to live, and to love each moment. Know that it’s okay to smile and to laugh. You are bent, but you are not broken.
Tips and Advice for Survivors of Suicide:
Continue to talk about them. Admitting to people that your loved one took their life may be the most difficult task you experience following their death. But this is your reality, and it’s okay to talk about it. Talk about your favorite memories, the things they did that made you mad, a favorite trip you went on together—no matter the subject, just talk about them. It’s hard. It will always be hard. But, I promise it helps during the healing process and it shows others it’s okay to discuss them as well.
Grief has no expiration date. So many of us fall into the idea that after a month or so the grief should start to subside. However, grief has no expiration date and it is normal to be sad weeks, months, and years later. It is okay to have a breakdown a year, two years, and even 20 years down the road. Feel every emotion that comes your way. Let yourself cry, scream, or just have a day on the couch where you binge eat and mope around. This is your healing process, and nobody can take that from you. Heal in your own way, in your own time and cry whenever you need to during this lifelong process.
Remember to live. Let the loss of their life be a reminder to you to live. During my loss, my initial reaction was to shut myself off from the world. I felt that I didn’t deserve happiness. How could I smile or be around friends when someone I loved just took their life? Then one day I realized: he wouldn’t want me to live this way because I wasn’t experiencing life. You do deserve happiness. You should smile. Keep living and know that this is what your loved one would want you to do.
Love harder when it’s hardest to love. As hard as it may be at times, spread love like it’s wildfire. Love your family. Love your friends. Love the strangers you pass by on the street. But most importantly, love those who are the hardest to love because they are the ones who need it the most. You never know what someone is going through and how your kindness may impact their life, or save it.