Surviving Suicide

“Survivor – a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.”

What does it mean to be a “survivor of suicide?”  This phrase keeps replaying in my head over the last three weeks since my mother’s death.  I don’t understand who made this phrase and why I keep getting pamphlets about it.

There is nothing anyone can say or do to make this pain go away or even slow down.  I know I am not the only child who has lost a parent to suicide, but it is a dark and twisted road that I am forced to travel alone.   I don’t know how I will get out of bed tomorrow morning and get my oldest to school.  I don’t know how I will be able to get through an hour of work or spend the day with my loving two-year old when I am in such a state of turmoil.  I can honestly say that I have lost who I am, what I want and what I can do in this process.  There is this constant anxiety of how will I survive.  It haunts me everywhere I go, for every second that I am awake. I am trying to journal this experience so that it sheds light onto mental illness, suicide, family and what it means to survive suicide.  Because I sure as hell don’t know.  And maybe in the process, I can figure out who I am, now that I have lost my mom.

I don’t know why this phrase bothers me so much.  It could be because I feel labeled by it now.  That my family is now marked by an unspeakable act that puts me outside of the norm.  Which I tell myself is fine, that I don’t want to live in that world without her, anyways.

Being the survivor of a death is one thing.  I could have survived the hypothetical  illness or accident that took my mom’s life… but to say I survived her suicide? It feels inappropriate beyond measures.  What choice do I have but to survive this?  How does anyone know I will survive this?

It bothers me that they paired these two words together; two words with such strong emotions.  To survive implies strength, luck, stamina and courage.  Suicide is the ultimate self-destructive act that someone does when they have lost all of their strength, courage, hope and desire to live.

Perhaps this is just something for me to channel my frustration at.  Either way, I recommend rewriting those handouts.  Might I suggest a “How to know when your life is upside down” pamphlet.

 

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Surviving Suicide

  1. Tanis says:

    It wasn’t my mother, it was my brother who died by suicide. I know the unique challenges to grieving a loved one who died by suicide. I’m sorry you are going through this although no words will make one ounce of pain be put to rest. Love and light!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kelli says:

      Do you mind if I ask if his friends or family saw any signs? Depression is something sometimes so hidden that you don’t ever know what’s really under the surface of someone’s pain. I’m just struggling being the closest person to my mom, and not thinking she was this sick.

      Like

      1. Tanis says:

        Unfortunately, there were many signs and a few attempts previously. However, he was an adult and we could not force him into treatment unless he chose to go. But even with all the signs and attempts and is watching him, he was determined to end his suffering and pain. After 12 years, I have let go of the guilt that I could have done something to save him. I was the last person he spoke to before he died. I got lost in the whirlpool of “I should have seen something, said something, hugged longer, loved more fiercely” but he made his choice and I had nothing to do with it. My family likes to believe that his deep emotional/spiritual and even physical torment is over. He is finally at peace and pain free.

        Like

      2. Kelli says:

        That’s very true, I guess it stings that she did this to me, and was such a good mother and amazing friend. It doesn’t fit with her life or story. She was too pure to be so sad

        Like

  2. Sarah says:

    I lost my mother to suicide when I was a child. We are survivors because the person we used to be is gone. It changes who you are so dramatically. The thing I struggled with so intensely is why she chose to leave me. There was never a good answer to this. My late teens and early adulthood was fraught with an underlying rage. “How dare she?” was a phase I used in my head a lot, especially after I had children of my own. It’s been about 30 years and yes I’m still surviving. The rage is gone but I think I will always be a bit broken. I’m sure your journey will be different from mine but know you’re not alone. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kelli says:

      I would love to discuss this more with you. I too, feel upset at her for choosing to do this to us. That I didn’t have a say, because if I had known or been warned….I’d have done everything in the world to make her feel safe in her own skin.

      Like

      1. Sarah says:

        Sure! I’m not an expert at dealing well with it but if I can help that would be wonderful. It’s difficult to deal with the forever unanswered questions and what ifs. Just know it was out of your hands, took me many years to realize this. She didn’t warn anyone or ask for help. There was nothing we could’ve done, just as, I suspect, there was nothing you could’ve done.
        I’m here to chat anytime, if you’d like.

        Like

      2. Kelli says:

        I feel so upset when others try to say they know what losing someone is like…like this is just what happens in life and happens to people… but this was her choice and I’m left here to deal with the consequences you know? There’s nothing natural about it

        Like

      3. Sarah says:

        I truly do know how you feel. Their choice leaves you injured and rejected. Not only do you have the incredible sadness and grief, you are left feeling abandoned and angry. My heart breaks for you. In time, I hope you can teach yourself it had nothing to do with you. This is my rational now. Because as a mother, I would never knowingly do this to a child, so there must’ve been something bigger than me at play. I know it’s not much of a consolation and it took me years to learn. It does eventually get better and you have to go through a lot of painful feelings first.

        Like

      4. Kelli says:

        I guess I feel hurt she didn’t take my help. I knew she was devastated and felt alone and we offered for her to move in and to be around us and the grandbabies a few times and she didn’t want to. She kept herself so busy I thought she was getting better. How long did it take you to find a new normal

        Like

  3. Sarah says:

    Well, as I was 8 when she died, I didn’t start feeling most of my strong emotions until I was an adult. I didn’t deal with them at all for a very long time. It wasn’t until I was tired of being angry that I started to let myself grieve in my 20’s. I think it’s a different process for everyone and I’m not sure it ever completely ends.

    Like

    1. Kelli says:

      Wow I can’t imagine going through those tough teenage years without her. I’m sorry you had to experience that. May I ask if you are religious at all? That’s the only thing giving me any sort of peace of mind is that Gods love and forgiveness covers her and she is at peace in heaven now.

      Like

  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve struggled with religion most of my life. My father used religion to help him move on. So I was well exposed. I guess I just struggle with the all the hypocrisy and closed mindedness that come with it. I am spiritual without being tied to a conventional religion.

    Like

  5. Eva says:

    I’m so sorry this happened. A few months ago A friend of mine shot himself in a field by his house while his wife and kids were inside. No note , no explanation. Suicide is so confusing. I can’t imagine losing get my mother in this way. My prayers are with you.

    Like

  6. Eva says:

    I agree that it is a much different experience losing someone to suicide than an accident or cancer etc …it is a different pain that only those who experience truly know.

    Like

  7. Kelly says:

    Kell, first I am very sorry you lost your mom. I too lost my mom when I was 27. My son was getting ready to turn 1 in a few weeks and we were preparing to move closer to her – 1500 miles closer. The situation sounds eerily similar to your mom, having another woman in the picture, etc.

    There are no words to help you through this, only time. I would like to share a couple thoughts.

    Your mom did not choose to leave you. In her right mind she would never have done that. However, in her despair, she truly thought everyone in her life would be better off without her, even though nothing could not be further from the truth. She was only dealing with herself in her own head at the time and she could see no other way to deal with her pain.

    Even had you known that she was suffering, it would not have changed the outcome. Please remember that. Many times, they get to a point where they have made the decision, they prepare and then may wait a bit of time before acting. During that time they may appear happy, relaxed and normal. That is the misconception.

    My moms brother also committed suicide. I tried at 17, and my brother in his 20s. I am not convinced that It may not be hereditary. Something more than just depression and coping. I guess we may never know.

    When my moms brother committed suicide I remember her saying that he was selfish to do that to his kids. Yet she ended up doing it to her kids. The kids that she would do anything to protect and keep from pain and sadness. I can only recommend that you let go of the questions of whether you could have helped her, whether you should have known, whether you could have saved her. This is a natural progression of the suicide grieving process, but they truly are destructive to you and your family. The sooner you get through this stage, the sooner you can get back to your new normal.

    You will never be the same, but you will get through this. I did by promising myself and my family that I would never put them through what I had been through no matter how tough life got for me. I did not have faith to help me through. I was catholic and they believe if you commit suicide you do not go to heaven. That was a very hard thing to grapple with. I met with a priest about it and he asked if I thought my mom was in heaven and I said absolutely. She was too good of a woman. He said to hold on to that. I can’t imagine that God would turn her away simply because she could not handle the despair any longer. He forgives and loves us.

    I wish you peace and forgiveness that will come in time. I will close with my favorite quote. “If God brings you to it, he will help you through it.”

    Like

    1. Kelli says:

      Thank you so much. It’s interesting that you messaged me these things… I have already made my next post in which I talk about her being in heaven or not and I end it with the same quote.

      Thank you for sharing and your encouragement, every bit helps.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s