“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.