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Featured this Month:

From the Desk of Jessica Mead
Saturday, October 01, 2016 by Jessica Mead
Surviving a loss by suicide is one of the most traumatic and devastating things that a person should never have to experience. It is the ultimate shock that can cause not only grave emotional and psychological pain but physical symptoms also. I have known many LOSS members who experience medical issues as the result of a loss. We no longer feel like ourselves and wonder if we will ever regain some of those pieces again. Sometimes our family members can become frustrated, waiting for that old person to return. The dynamics in our families can shift. After losing my dad our family felt very different. We no longer celebrated holidays the same and some family relationships changed as well. Some survivors report that they are no longer the person that they used to be. Some are forced to make new friendships, move into new houses, and cease relationships with family members who are not supportive. Not only are survivors trying to grapple with the idea of this person not being here anymore, they are struggling with all of these pieces of the identity as well. 

The first few weeks and months can be so overwhelming. In one split second life has changed and survivors are forced to figure it out, almost like learning to swim in the middle of the ocean. When I think back to my first few weeks after my dad died, I always feel sympathetic for our LOSS survivors who are just beginning their journey. Everything that you may have understood about your life and the universe has shifted in a matter of moments. People look different, you feel different, your friend’s problems seem so different and insignificant, and your home may look and feel very different.  Not only are survivors struggling with these missing pieces of themselves and family, but many people experience guilt and begin searching for answers. This can become an obsession: What was he wearing? Why did he chose that method? What was her last thought? I could have called her and that many have prevented this? Some people have proper support where they can process these feelings, but some do not, which can lead to unhealthy ways of coping like drinking, smoking, being involved in toxic relationships. 

In those few weeks and months after a suicide loss, it can also feel like you are walking on a cloud, dissociated from yourself, in a state of shock. Sometimes that shock can actually be helpful because how could our minds so quickly comprehend such an enormous blow? For many people it is helpful to stay close to home or someplace comfortable. Some people cannot function and need to rest and sleep, while others cope by going back to work and “over functioning”. When LOSS members call in these first few weeks we encourage them to do whatever their bodies and minds are telling them that they need, as long as it is healthy and safe. Sometimes it can take a few weeks or a few months for people to acknowledge that they need help processing this loss. Some survivors may not be psychologically ready to enter a support group or see a new individual therapist until their minds have some ability to tolerate the pain after the loss. 

Making the decision to seek counseling or support group help can be difficult but I would highly recommend it. It is not for everyone, but I do think that for many these types of supports can be some of the first steps in the healing process. Groups are wonderful because they help survivors to normalize their experience. I remember the first time I attended a group, I had chills when I realized that other normal looking people had similar stories to my own. I spent so much time thinking that my family was “dysfunctional” that it was a burden released when I learned that this was something that other people experienced. Even some of the details of my father’s suicide story seemed to be a shared experience around the table that night. Some people describe the groups to be their space to be understood, not judged and they can also share some of the semi-gory things that other people in their lives cannot tolerate. Many feel as though it is the one area in life where they don’t have to “defend” the person that died by suicide due to the stigma of suicide and mental illness. The Obelisk and other survivor’s forums can be useful in this regard as well. Having an individual counselor to help you process feelings and understand who you are in the context of all of this can be invaluable. Whatever your journey may be, know that we are here to support and guide you, should you choose to use us. Please reach out to friends and family and other survivors for support. 


Archives:

From the Desk of Jessica Mead
Saturday, October 01, 2016 by Jessica Mead
Surviving a loss by suicide is one of the most traumatic and devastating things that a person should never have to experience. It is the ultimate shock that can cause not only grave emotional and psychological pain but physical symptoms also. I have known many LOSS members who experience medical issues as the result of a loss. We no longer feel like ourselves and wonder if we will ever regain some of those pieces again. Sometimes our family members can become frustrated, waiting for that old person to return. The dynamics in our families can shift. After losing my dad our family felt very different. We no longer celebrated holidays the same and some family relationships changed as well. Some survivors report that they are no longer the person that they used to be. Some are forced to make new friendships, move into new houses, and cease relationships with family members who are not supportive. Not only are survivors trying to grapple with the idea of this person not being here anymore, they are struggling with all of these pieces of the identity as well. 

The first few weeks and months can be so overwhelming. In one split second life has changed and survivors are forced to figure it out, almost like learning to swim in the middle of the ocean. When I think back to my first few weeks after my dad died, I always feel sympathetic for our LOSS survivors who are just beginning their journey. Everything that you may have understood about your life and the universe has shifted in a matter of moments. People look different, you feel different, your friend’s problems seem so different and insignificant, and your home may look and feel very different.  Not only are survivors struggling with these missing pieces of themselves and family, but many people experience guilt and begin searching for answers. This can become an obsession: What was he wearing? Why did he chose that method? What was her last thought? I could have called her and that many have prevented this? Some people have proper support where they can process these feelings, but some do not, which can lead to unhealthy ways of coping like drinking, smoking, being involved in toxic relationships. 

In those few weeks and months after a suicide loss, it can also feel like you are walking on a cloud, dissociated from yourself, in a state of shock. Sometimes that shock can actually be helpful because how could our minds so quickly comprehend such an enormous blow? For many people it is helpful to stay close to home or someplace comfortable. Some people cannot function and need to rest and sleep, while others cope by going back to work and “over functioning”. When LOSS members call in these first few weeks we encourage them to do whatever their bodies and minds are telling them that they need, as long as it is healthy and safe. Sometimes it can take a few weeks or a few months for people to acknowledge that they need help processing this loss. Some survivors may not be psychologically ready to enter a support group or see a new individual therapist until their minds have some ability to tolerate the pain after the loss. 

Making the decision to seek counseling or support group help can be difficult but I would highly recommend it. It is not for everyone, but I do think that for many these types of supports can be some of the first steps in the healing process. Groups are wonderful because they help survivors to normalize their experience. I remember the first time I attended a group, I had chills when I realized that other normal looking people had similar stories to my own. I spent so much time thinking that my family was “dysfunctional” that it was a burden released when I learned that this was something that other people experienced. Even some of the details of my father’s suicide story seemed to be a shared experience around the table that night. Some people describe the groups to be their space to be understood, not judged and they can also share some of the semi-gory things that other people in their lives cannot tolerate. Many feel as though it is the one area in life where they don’t have to “defend” the person that died by suicide due to the stigma of suicide and mental illness. The Obelisk and other survivor’s forums can be useful in this regard as well. Having an individual counselor to help you process feelings and understand who you are in the context of all of this can be invaluable. Whatever your journey may be, know that we are here to support and guide you, should you choose to use us. Please reach out to friends and family and other survivors for support.