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Reflections from Jessica Mead
Friday, August 01, 2014 by Jessica Mead
In a recent Workshop on adaptive grieving, I was asked to participate in an exercise where I responded to questions about a significant person in my life who had died. My colleague began asking me questions like, “What kinds of things did your loved one teach you about life?” And, “What strengths did she/he see in you?” These were questions that no one had ever asked me before.  I found myself really enjoying answering them. As I answered, I was able to reflect on my own qualities and characteristics that I had never connected to my father before. It made me think about how much I missed talking about him. Now that it has been 9 years since his death, there are fewer people in my life who knew him well. I no longer live in my childhood home where neighbors and friends would tell me a story about how he helped them do something in their yard. I no longer keep in contact with many of the friends that I had then, and many of our family members who knew my dad for his lifetime have passed away. This exercise really got me thinking about my grief journey, past and present.

The way that I think and the things that have helped me in my grief have definitely changed as I have healed, developed, met new people and tried new experiences. What helped me in the beginning is not the same as what I need now. In the beginning, it was too difficult for me to talk about my dad with anyone. It was too much for me to even hear the word suicide. What helped me in those first few weeks was space to be alone and cry and the ability to distract myself. All I did was work and that was what I needed.  Oftentimes worried family members call LOSS to express concern over other family members whom they see as not “grieving” appropriately. I reassure people that sometimes our brains and bodies do what we need to protect ourselves from this impact and that for some people it can take months before they are able to attend a group or talk about it. I know that I would have been very annoyed if family members had pushed me to talk about my grief. It was also very difficult for me to be around my grieving family members. I could barely comfort myself, let alone be there to support someone else I loved. Some LOSS members that I meet are often upset with family members who have distanced themselves or are not interested in talking about the loved one. I try to offer my own experience to these individuals and say that it does not mean that that they loved this person less, but only that it may be too difficult for them in the moment.

After a few months, I felt the need and the urge to talk about my dad and seek out other people who had the same experience.  I was living outside of the Chicagoland area at the time and did not have LOSS, but I found myself wanting to connect with other survivors. I reached out to various people that I knew who also had experienced a suicide loss and I would tell them my story and want to hear theirs. This part of my grieving was tremendously helpful. I immediately felt less alone and isolated. While many of my friends were helpful and supportive, there is something comforting and remarkable about getting the support from other survivors. When I would talk with other survivors and especially individuals who lost a father, I felt reassured, like a physical weight was lifting off of me.

During this time I was also trying to come up with a story that I could live with. My story consisted of trying to figure out my father’s suicidal mind, what happened leading up to his death, what our relationship was about and what impact it had on his death, and how the concept of suicide impacted me. What did his death mean to my life? Over time I have realized that my story is very different from my other family members but I know that is okay. As we hear so often grief is unique and individualized. The way that I understand my dad now is also very different from the way that I understood him when he was alive. I think that I understand him more in death.  

As the years have passed my grief has become less intense but it is still there. I miss him especially around holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I missed him at my wedding and I know I will miss him around the birth of my son, but the feelings are more nostalgic than the intense heart-wrenching sadness and pain that I experienced in the beginning. I still get sad and cry but when I do I know that it will not last all day and sometimes it feels good. When I feel the need to cry, I know that it means that the relationship is still there. As Thomas Lynch stated so poignantly, “Grief is the tax that we pay on love”.  I hope that each survivor, wherever you find yourself along your journey, can experience hope and healing at some point along the way. In the beginning it seems so far and unattainable, but as many survivors can attest, it does get easier. Take one day at a time and please reach out to friends, family and LOSS for support.


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Reflections from Jessica Mead
Friday, August 01, 2014 by Jessica Mead
In a recent Workshop on adaptive grieving, I was asked to participate in an exercise where I responded to questions about a significant person in my life who had died. My colleague began asking me questions like, “What kinds of things did your loved one teach you about life?” And, “What strengths did she/he see in you?” These were questions that no one had ever asked me before.  I found myself really enjoying answering them. As I answered, I was able to reflect on my own qualities and characteristics that I had never connected to my father before. It made me think about how much I missed talking about him. Now that it has been 9 years since his death, there are fewer people in my life who knew him well. I no longer live in my childhood home where neighbors and friends would tell me a story about how he helped them do something in their yard. I no longer keep in contact with many of the friends that I had then, and many of our family members who knew my dad for his lifetime have passed away. This exercise really got me thinking about my grief journey, past and present.

The way that I think and the things that have helped me in my grief have definitely changed as I have healed, developed, met new people and tried new experiences. What helped me in the beginning is not the same as what I need now. In the beginning, it was too difficult for me to talk about my dad with anyone. It was too much for me to even hear the word suicide. What helped me in those first few weeks was space to be alone and cry and the ability to distract myself. All I did was work and that was what I needed.  Oftentimes worried family members call LOSS to express concern over other family members whom they see as not “grieving” appropriately. I reassure people that sometimes our brains and bodies do what we need to protect ourselves from this impact and that for some people it can take months before they are able to attend a group or talk about it. I know that I would have been very annoyed if family members had pushed me to talk about my grief. It was also very difficult for me to be around my grieving family members. I could barely comfort myself, let alone be there to support someone else I loved. Some LOSS members that I meet are often upset with family members who have distanced themselves or are not interested in talking about the loved one. I try to offer my own experience to these individuals and say that it does not mean that that they loved this person less, but only that it may be too difficult for them in the moment.

After a few months, I felt the need and the urge to talk about my dad and seek out other people who had the same experience.  I was living outside of the Chicagoland area at the time and did not have LOSS, but I found myself wanting to connect with other survivors. I reached out to various people that I knew who also had experienced a suicide loss and I would tell them my story and want to hear theirs. This part of my grieving was tremendously helpful. I immediately felt less alone and isolated. While many of my friends were helpful and supportive, there is something comforting and remarkable about getting the support from other survivors. When I would talk with other survivors and especially individuals who lost a father, I felt reassured, like a physical weight was lifting off of me.

During this time I was also trying to come up with a story that I could live with. My story consisted of trying to figure out my father’s suicidal mind, what happened leading up to his death, what our relationship was about and what impact it had on his death, and how the concept of suicide impacted me. What did his death mean to my life? Over time I have realized that my story is very different from my other family members but I know that is okay. As we hear so often grief is unique and individualized. The way that I understand my dad now is also very different from the way that I understood him when he was alive. I think that I understand him more in death.  

As the years have passed my grief has become less intense but it is still there. I miss him especially around holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I missed him at my wedding and I know I will miss him around the birth of my son, but the feelings are more nostalgic than the intense heart-wrenching sadness and pain that I experienced in the beginning. I still get sad and cry but when I do I know that it will not last all day and sometimes it feels good. When I feel the need to cry, I know that it means that the relationship is still there. As Thomas Lynch stated so poignantly, “Grief is the tax that we pay on love”.  I hope that each survivor, wherever you find yourself along your journey, can experience hope and healing at some point along the way. In the beginning it seems so far and unattainable, but as many survivors can attest, it does get easier. Take one day at a time and please reach out to friends, family and LOSS for support.