Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Unnatural Death....Suicide

There are several deaths that I consider an "unnatural" loss. Loosely I define an "unnatural" death as a premature death. Meaning, the person has passed before they reach the average life expectancy rate. Some examples of an unnatural death are the death of a child, suicide, homicide, or any death that does not occur in the natural sense.
In this post I will focus on suicide. Unfortunately Suicide will take more than 30,000 lives this year. According to the CDC Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
Unfortunately many victims of Suicide do not seek help or share their suicidal thoughts with loved ones or professionals. This often leads the survivor to accepting a huge amount of guilt..thinking he/she should have picked up on the signs. Or, should have intercepted a warning to intervene.

It is also common for the survivors to have feelings of the event being a senseless act. Which leads many survivors to be angry at the suicide victim. It is perfectly normal for the survivors to feel anger. If you are experiencing anger, be mindful of your anger and don't turn around and place guilt on yourself for being angry. Just know that the feelings of anger can be very normal.

Suicide often leaves the bereaved with more questions than answers. Just realize that some of these questions will never have answers. However, the intensity of pain associated with the "why" questions should diminish over time.

The survivors of suicide often experience a shroud of shame. This shame can be the result of many different things. For example...many survivors blame themselves for not preventing the suicide, some survivors feel like they failed the person somehow, some people's religious beliefs may contribute to a sense of shame, etc. Unfortunately, feelings of shame prevent many suicide survivors from seeking help. But, if you are a suicide survivor KNOW that there are healthy coping strategies available after a loss.

An example of some healthy coping strategies are....DO NOT WITHDRAW from friends or family. Seek support from understanding friends, family members and/or an understanding faith/spiritual leader. Join a grief support group. If there is one in your area..join a grief support group specifically for suicide survivors. Being a part of a group brings an understanding and empathy that you cannot find elsewhere...because the participants HAVE traveled a similar road. Don't rush your self with grief. Grief "takes as long as it takes". There is no set period for grief to be over. However, the intense, raw and painful emotions should lessen. Along the way expect waves of grief...or setbacks. It is natural. Some things that may cause intense waves of grief are holidays, anniversaries, birthdays (theirs and yours) or any special celebrations. Waves of grief can also come on completely unexpected. Some days will be better than others for no apparent reason. It is just the nature of the grief beast.

Unfortunately, many survivors of Suicide have a bumpy road to healing. Suffering the loss of a loved one is difficult...add suicide..and it usually makes the grieving process more complicated. Just know that you CAN heal and please seek professional support and/or support groups for suicide survivors. Healing is always a little easier when you know that you are not alone...and people before you have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Seek help/support. Attempting to deny or ignore your feelings may lead to a lengthy and unhealthy mourning period. Which will not help your wounds to heal. Most importantly, if you find yourself in a deep depression with unresolved grief issues you may be experiencing complicated grief (feelings of intense and painful emotions lasting over a long period of time.....). Complicated grief can be so intense that you have trouble resuming any small thread of normalcy to resume your own life. If you find yourself in this type of situation SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a page to locate online and face to face support groups for suicide survivors.

Wishing you the best on this always wishing you Comfort, Peace and Hope.

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