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From the Desk of Father Rubey
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 by Father Rubey
In January, we begin a New Year and many of us have New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight, getting more exercise or doing something positive to improve our lives such as being more understanding towards our loved ones. Former Vice President Joe Biden recently came out with a memoir detailing events in his life and what he learned from the tragedies. You might recall that he lost his first wife and baby daughter in an automobile accident in which his two sons were very seriously injured. Joe Biden raised these two boys as a single parent and one of his boys recently died from brain cancer. Joe Biden, in his book, makes a very poignant observation when he says “by engaging with life, as bewildering as this may seem after a tragedy, we can thrive again”. Truer words were never spoken especially coming from someone who has known a few tragedies in his life.

In the immediate aftermath of a completed suicide, it is very normal to want to retreat into the safety of one’s home and stay there because it is safe. Survivors seek to surround themselves with loved ones who will support them and comfort them. This is okay in the immediate aftermath of the suicide but it is important that survivors eventually move beyond those comfort zones and begin to “engage with life”. In the beginning this can seem like a very painful act but engaging with life is one way to attempt to rebuild a life that has been shattered by a completed suicide of a loved one. This should be done very slowly and deliberately, such as going out shopping for groceries with trusted loved ones who can serve as a buffer for the survivors. In the immediate aftermath of a completed suicide survivors may feel as if they have a big sign around them that says with big letters FAILURE. Very often this word is labelled by the survivor and not at the world at large. It really has no bearing on reality. People are a lot more understanding than we give them credit. Engaging with life gives people the opportunity to offer condolence to survivors as well as support.

Going back to work is another action of engaging with life. Survivors don’t know what to expect when they return to work after a period of absence. Engaging with life in the work place provides survivors the opportunity for co-workers to offer support and condolences and welcome the survivor back to the work environment. It takes real courage for survivors to return to a job after such an absence. There will be a lot of questions and in some instances a lot of erroneous speculation. In engaging with life it very important to share information from an honesty standpoint. Also it is important to share information in which the survivor is comfortable in sharing. Suicide is a different form of death. It is very understanding and clear when a death occurs as a result of cancer or a heart attack or an automobile accident, but it is not always that clear cut when the death is by suicide. There are a lot of misunderstandings about people who complete suicide such as the act is a cowardly act or a selfish act. It is neither. It is an act of desperation and a clear statement that the pain in someone’s life has become intolerable and there is no other way out except to end one’s life. This is a position that is difficult to explain or understand but that is the state in life in which this person found themselves in. No one can understand the pain of mental illness unless they have been there. Survivors often hear comments such as “they had everything to live for. Why did they ever do this?” Survivors often feel the same way and ask the question WHY? It is okay to respond that the survivor themselves are asking the same question. As survivors engage with life nothing is more important than to respond with an honest answer. That is one way to dispel rumors and other speculative reasons as to why someone would end their life. Again, that is one of the great mysteries in grieving the loss of a loved one from suicide. Survivors are challenged to live with mystery with the question: Why did my loved one take their life? In many instances there is no one precise answer to that question. It is okay to respond in like manner.

As survivors engage with life they might encounter people asking inappropriate questions about the suicide. Survivors should never be in a position where they feel uncomfortable in responding to insensitive questions or details surrounding the death. A simple response such as “that is too painful to talk about at this time”, should be an appropriate response to someone who is seeking information about the death. Again, survivors should always feel comfortable in responding to questions.

As we begin a New Year these have been a few suggestions for survivors who struggle with engaging with life. If there is to be a life after losing a loved one from suicide—which there will be most definitely—it is important to engage in life at the appropriate time and not put off this engagement too long. Survivor’s lives, future and happiness depends on how well survivors engage with life. One of the safest statements to be made in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one is that the life one had with the presence of this person is over and not to be retrieved. How well a survivor engages with life will directly determine the future of this survivor and future goals and happiness that await this survivor. It takes a great deal of courage to engage with life but the rewards can be unimaginable and very fulfilling. Such a life will not happen automatically. It takes engaging with life for this to happen.

As always, I want to assure each and every member of the LOSS family of my thoughts and prayers on a regular basis and I encourage each of you to do the same for each other –especially for those who have recently joined our family.

Keep On Keepin’ On,

Rev. Charles T. Rubey


Archives:

From the Desk of Father Rubey
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 by Father Rubey
In January, we begin a New Year and many of us have New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight, getting more exercise or doing something positive to improve our lives such as being more understanding towards our loved ones. Former Vice President Joe Biden recently came out with a memoir detailing events in his life and what he learned from the tragedies. You might recall that he lost his first wife and baby daughter in an automobile accident in which his two sons were very seriously injured. Joe Biden raised these two boys as a single parent and one of his boys recently died from brain cancer. Joe Biden, in his book, makes a very poignant observation when he says “by engaging with life, as bewildering as this may seem after a tragedy, we can thrive again”. Truer words were never spoken especially coming from someone who has known a few tragedies in his life.

In the immediate aftermath of a completed suicide, it is very normal to want to retreat into the safety of one’s home and stay there because it is safe. Survivors seek to surround themselves with loved ones who will support them and comfort them. This is okay in the immediate aftermath of the suicide but it is important that survivors eventually move beyond those comfort zones and begin to “engage with life”. In the beginning this can seem like a very painful act but engaging with life is one way to attempt to rebuild a life that has been shattered by a completed suicide of a loved one. This should be done very slowly and deliberately, such as going out shopping for groceries with trusted loved ones who can serve as a buffer for the survivors. In the immediate aftermath of a completed suicide survivors may feel as if they have a big sign around them that says with big letters FAILURE. Very often this word is labelled by the survivor and not at the world at large. It really has no bearing on reality. People are a lot more understanding than we give them credit. Engaging with life gives people the opportunity to offer condolence to survivors as well as support.

Going back to work is another action of engaging with life. Survivors don’t know what to expect when they return to work after a period of absence. Engaging with life in the work place provides survivors the opportunity for co-workers to offer support and condolences and welcome the survivor back to the work environment. It takes real courage for survivors to return to a job after such an absence. There will be a lot of questions and in some instances a lot of erroneous speculation. In engaging with life it very important to share information from an honesty standpoint. Also it is important to share information in which the survivor is comfortable in sharing. Suicide is a different form of death. It is very understanding and clear when a death occurs as a result of cancer or a heart attack or an automobile accident, but it is not always that clear cut when the death is by suicide. There are a lot of misunderstandings about people who complete suicide such as the act is a cowardly act or a selfish act. It is neither. It is an act of desperation and a clear statement that the pain in someone’s life has become intolerable and there is no other way out except to end one’s life. This is a position that is difficult to explain or understand but that is the state in life in which this person found themselves in. No one can understand the pain of mental illness unless they have been there. Survivors often hear comments such as “they had everything to live for. Why did they ever do this?” Survivors often feel the same way and ask the question WHY? It is okay to respond that the survivor themselves are asking the same question. As survivors engage with life nothing is more important than to respond with an honest answer. That is one way to dispel rumors and other speculative reasons as to why someone would end their life. Again, that is one of the great mysteries in grieving the loss of a loved one from suicide. Survivors are challenged to live with mystery with the question: Why did my loved one take their life? In many instances there is no one precise answer to that question. It is okay to respond in like manner.

As survivors engage with life they might encounter people asking inappropriate questions about the suicide. Survivors should never be in a position where they feel uncomfortable in responding to insensitive questions or details surrounding the death. A simple response such as “that is too painful to talk about at this time”, should be an appropriate response to someone who is seeking information about the death. Again, survivors should always feel comfortable in responding to questions.

As we begin a New Year these have been a few suggestions for survivors who struggle with engaging with life. If there is to be a life after losing a loved one from suicide—which there will be most definitely—it is important to engage in life at the appropriate time and not put off this engagement too long. Survivor’s lives, future and happiness depends on how well survivors engage with life. One of the safest statements to be made in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one is that the life one had with the presence of this person is over and not to be retrieved. How well a survivor engages with life will directly determine the future of this survivor and future goals and happiness that await this survivor. It takes a great deal of courage to engage with life but the rewards can be unimaginable and very fulfilling. Such a life will not happen automatically. It takes engaging with life for this to happen.

As always, I want to assure each and every member of the LOSS family of my thoughts and prayers on a regular basis and I encourage each of you to do the same for each other –especially for those who have recently joined our family.

Keep On Keepin’ On,

Rev. Charles T. Rubey