the holiday season can magnify your sense of loss and mourning. Family gatherings and seasonal events can be painful reminders of the absence of a loved one. At the same time, they can also be comforting rituals where you spend time with family and friends, focusing on good memories and trying to recapture your sense of joy. If you are mourning a loss of a loved one this year, here are some important things to keep in mind.
The Austin Center for Grief & Loss As we prepare for a transition into cool mornings and early sunsets, I have been taking the time to reflect on how nature beautifully represents our mission at Austin Grief. As the trees let go of their leaves in preparation for a season of rest and recovery, it …Continue Reading
Most of the time, fathers are neglected grievers… While we know a lot about grief now, people still aren’t sure how to respond to a man’s feelings. It’s safer to ask how your wife is doing than to ask how you feel. And as a man, you have a lot of thoughts and feelings now. You …Continue Reading
What parent wants to leave their child? In the depths of illness and what’s known as “the suicide trance,” they quite likely thought their loved ones would be better off without them. I used to view suicide as selfish, before I lost my husband to depression in 2013 and then set out to better understand what had happened. Learning that the brain gets stuck in the loop of the suicidal trance helped me make sense of it all. He would have never wanted to inflict such pain on his family, especially on our then 7-year old son, whom he adored.
The signs of the holiday season are ubiquitous: holiday decorations in the stores, piped in Christmas carols, holiday displays at the malls, TV programs focusing on selecting the perfect gift, holiday parties and gift exchanges at work. In many cases, this bustle of activity contrasts markedly with the emptiness and despair of grief. As one …Continue Reading
Recovery means, “to regain,” “to get back” or “to restore.” It has a lot to do with loss and with you. Recovery is not “getting over it” or“closure.” Those terms do not apply to what you have experienced. Suicide loss does not go away and it cannot be left behind. You have not only lost …Continue Reading
by Connie Kennemer Birthdays and holidays can be tricky business for suicide survivors. My sunshine boy Todd would have turned 37 last summer. On his birthday, we celebrated with a trio of fellow survivors that were ready to party; in fact, they had a plan in mind. They came to the table with love, laughter …Continue Reading
By Joyce Bruggeman Human beings are highly complex – we embody the union of physical and non-physical aspects to make us who we are. When we suffer a devastating loss such as suicide, all of who we are is deeply impacted. Bereavement actually means “to be torn” apart. Our journey back to wholeness will include …Continue Reading
I am a granddaughter of an immigrant to this country. I am a daughter of a WWII vet who fought against his ancestral homeland and suffered from severe PTSD, and a mother who loved and cared for him and 8 children. I am a sister to 7. I am an aunt to 36 (and counting). …Continue Reading
By Jessica Hutchison, or OurSideofSuicide.com Recently, a friend of mine experienced a suicide loss. This was the first time that I had someone close to me lose someone in the same manner that I lost my dad. While I am constantly entrenched in suicide both personally and professionally something made this loss different. It …Continue Reading
Cupcakes & Dread-Blocking By Jennifer Lane, www.JenniferLLane.com Celebrating after suicide is difficult as we are reminded of our devastating loss. We get caught up telling the story of their death, limiting the time we spend talking about and celebrating the life they lived. Anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays become difficult as we are reminded that our loved one …Continue Reading
By Jenni Klock Morel Hold love in your heart. Understand that deep love and gratitude can live side-by-side with deep grief, deep pain. Know your true north. Your lost loved one loved you, as you loved them. They would want you to do your best to find joy in life again, even if only in …Continue Reading
By Jenni Klock Morel When my brother died by suicide, my heart broke. I felt something inside me shatter. At first I existed in survival-mode. Able to stand, even speak, at the memorial. Though that soon wore off, and in its wake there was a rawness, an ache, an emptiness inside of me, or what …Continue Reading
By Diane Conn I never expected to have anything to do with the word suicide other than to read about it happening out there somewhere, far from me. But one day it came right into my home. I was seventeen and at college the snowy evening I got a phone call from my father telling …Continue Reading
By Joyce Bruggeman For us in the survivor community, our stories are different, but we all understand the devastating pain of suicide. In our loved one’s attempt to end their pain, they made the worst mistake of their life. For them, the pain did end. But we all know the pain did not end; it …Continue Reading
By Jenni Klock Morel As the holidays approach, do you feel pressure? Personally, I believe there is pressure during the holiday season. It is multifaceted: societal pressure, pressure from our family and friends, even pressure from ourselves. Pressure to be joyous, to celebrate, to laugh. After all it is the most wonderful time of …Continue Reading
By Jessica Hutchison, of www.OurSideofSuicide.com One question that I have been asked by many survivors is, “When will the guilt end?” I see the desperation in their eyes, and remember the overwhelming weight that I carried on my own shoulders following the loss of my father. We question what we could have done differently to …Continue Reading
Bonnie Bear in memory of Gordon R. Bear “I have been trying to make the best of my grief and am just beginning to learn to allow it to make the best of me.” Barbara Lazear Ascher When I came to SOSL 12 years ago, I was grieving the loss of my husband, Gordon, who …Continue Reading
Our Holiday Journey By Connie Kennemer Todd took his life a week before Thanksgiving 2005. Loss of any kind is traumatic, but a suicide death is surreal and stigmatizing. Thanksgiving was a blur for us that year. Time has softened the memories of that first holiday without our son. Close to a decade later I …Continue Reading
By Jessica Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide, knows that it forever changes your life. It rocks your world in a way that no other death can. It leaves you feeling helpless, hopeless and completely lost. The emotions are overwhelming and the “why’s” and “what if’s” consume you. You are overcome with …Continue Reading
Rea L. Ginsberg, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD Many people working in the general field of thanatology write about bereavement, commonly considered the period of mourning after the death of a loved one. Often in those writings, we find that the expectations for healing and recovery are unrealistic. Writers indicate that the bereaved will one day return …Continue Reading
A Comforter with Wings By Anonymous My tears were already falling, before I even opened my eyes. I had been crying nonstop for forty-seven days straight. As I walked down the stairs, I begged God to help me; I just couldn’t process the fact that my son had died. I sat down to an …Continue Reading
By Maureen Hunter When we are feeling overwhelmed and consumed by the inconsolable pain of our grief, we often wonder, is this going to be my life forever? Will the pain ever go away? If grief has slammed into our life in a fury we are knocked down, broken and shattered, gasping for breath in a …Continue Reading
After the loss of a loved one, holidays and other special days can be very difficult, for the first few years, and for some, these days are always difficult. The following suggestions are meant to be helpful. Please use what resonates with you. As a qualified grief practitioner and longtime facilitator of support groups for …Continue Reading
By Connie Kennermer
Things that help…
Saying you are sorry for my loss.
Hugs. And more hugs.
Very few words.
Cards, phone messages and e-mails that don’t require a quick response — or any response.
Meals, but only when I need them. The fridge fills up fast when the appetite fades.
Giving me generous latitude. My grief has no timetable; its steps are not sequential. I seldom know when grief will “take me out.”
Expressing total and painful confusion over what happened. Knowing that you are perplexed makes me feel a little more sane.
Cards or notes months after. It’s when your life goes back to “normal” that I feel alone and my loss forgotten.
Say his name often. Out loud. Remind me how much you feel the loss.
Help me not forget him. Remind me of funny things he said or how witty and gifted he was.
Things that don’t help…
Saying that you understand. You may care but you don’t understand, unless you have experienced a similar loss.
Tracy T. Dean, M.S.
Asking “Why did my loved one do this?” is the question that haunts most survivors of suicide. The outside world demands to know from us, and we don’t know ourselves. For some of us there were definite clues that our loved ones were depressed or that something was wrong. We either knew that they were in pain and did not know the extent of it, or we did know and tried everything we knew to get help for them. For others the suicide was completely out of character. Many people who end their lives are extremely good actors and actresses. They only allow us to see what they want us to see. In either instance, for many, we never thought it could really happen to us, to our loved ones, and to our families. It doesn’t make sense.
So we search, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Hindsight is 20×20, and sometimes we find bits and pieces, clues to what might have happened to allow our loved ones to lose hope and give up on life. We often want a specific reason, a direct cause and effect. If we can understand exactly why our loved ones ended their lives, maybe we can keep it from happening again to someone else we love.
Jeffrey Jackson * Guilt is the one negative emotion that seems to be universal to all survivors of suicide, and overcoming it is perhaps our greatest obstacle on the path to healing. Guilt is your worst enemy, because it is a false accusation. You are not responsible for your loved one’s suicide in any way, …Continue Reading
by Father Arnaldo Pangrazzi, International Coordinator for ministry for the Order of St. Camillus The suicide of someone you care about is a devastating tragedy. It happens in the best of families and to the best of people, shattering the lives of the shocked survivors. As you mourn the death of your friend or loved …Continue Reading
Most of the time, fathers are neglected grievers. While we know a lot about grief now, people still aren’t sure how to respond to a man’s feelings. It’s safer to ask how your wife is doing than to ask how you feel. And as a man, you have a lot of thoughts and feelings now. …Continue Reading
By Gisela Luján When our loved one dies, we feel pain. There is not a detour around the pain. The only way to overcome it is to pass through it. When our loved one dies, we grieve. Grief is the physical and psychological expression of pain. Grieving is a very painful process and it can …Continue Reading
The toothbrush holder, the laundry basket, the magazine rack, a kitchen shelf—each of these is such an ordinary, simple part of any home. Yet, each can be so completely associated with grief as to cause our chests to heave deep sobs with just one glance. That seems obvious to all of us survivors, but to …Continue Reading
Recovery means “to regain,” “to get back” or “to restore.” It has a lot to do with loss and with you. Recovery is not “getting over it” or “closure.” Those terms do not apply to what you have experienced. Suicide loss does not go away and it cannot be left behind. You have not only …Continue Reading
It is fascinating the way life reaches up and slaps you in the face. Just when you think you have finally gotten back to some sort of stability, you are bitten by the sting of devastating pain. You breathe and ask the question: Where did this come from? You breathe again. Four years after the …Continue Reading
For clarification, the use of the word “better” in this article is meant to imply “improved condition as survivors progress through the healing process”. by Lois A. Bloom It always takes me back in time when a survivor asks me, “Does it get better?” I knew a survivor whose husband hung himself asked me that …Continue Reading
October 28, 2004 started the ripple effect. We received a call at 2:24 in the afternoon to inform us that our son had been found. At first, you think He was never lost, we knew exactly where he was, what he was doing, where he was working, so how could someone have found him? Then …Continue Reading
From the Center for Grief Recovery By Chris Rothman, Ph.D. During grieving, it is common to need breaks from our emotions. This in no way dishonors the seriousness of our concerns and the memories of our loved one. These ideas may give you some additional nourishment to respond to the stress that comes with grieving. …Continue Reading
You can laugh and enjoy being with others Taking care of yourself is not only ok, but it feels good. The future is not so frightening. You can handle “special days” without falling apart. You want to reach out to others in need or pain. You now enjoy activities that you had given up after …Continue Reading
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