It’s been a year now, buddy. For me, there are still those days where I think, “maybe, if we’d just had that visit; if you’d gotten to visit with him like you’d wanted too…” Guilt is so common after suicide. Everyone will find an ounce of guilt to torment themselves with, it is engraved along this path of grief that we walk.
This weekend was likely an emotionally difficult one for a certain family. I send them all hugs and strength, hoping they remember the joyful times – and that facetious look he’d get in his eye when he was scheming up another practical joke.
A friend recently gifted me a wonderful little book called The Wilderness Of Suicide Grief by Alan D. Wolfelt. I am going to outline his “Suicide Survivors Bill of Rights” for you:
“1. I have the right to experience my own unique grief.”
Each of us has our own grief, there is no right way to grieve.
“2. I have the right to talk about my grief.”
Please don’t ever let people silence or shun you when you tell your grief story. Talk it out as much as you need to.
“3. I have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.”
A multitude is right, it is such a rollercoaster but it is your rollercoaster and you must feel your way along.
“4. I have the right to work through any feelings of guilt and relinquish responsibility.”
Way easier said than done but your grief is a process that you must traverse.
“5. I have the right to know what can be known about what happened.”
There will be endless and repeated questioning, but you have a right to the known facts.
“6. I have a right to embrace the mystery.”
Life and death are mysterious, death far more so and it’s okay to accept that which we cannot know.
“7. I have the right to embrace my spirituality.”
Death and spiritual beliefs go hand in hand, if you need to explore that in your own way, no one can say you’re wrong. It’s your journey.
“8. I have the right to treasure my memories.”
It’s not uncommon for it to be hard to connect to happier memories at first but they do come back. Don’t let the death overshadow those joyful memories.
“9. I have the right to hope.”
Having hope for your own future and life without your loved one doesn’t mean you love them or miss them less. You are still alive and you can still live.
“10. I have the right to move toward my grief and heal.”
As we walk our grief path, we don’t suddenly one day come across a flashing sign that says, “Congratulations, you’ve reached the end.” That’s not how grief works. Eventually we hope to integrate the loss into our story and accept how it has changed us and continues to shape us. Don’t let people try to push you to “get over it”, find people who will allow and accept your ongoing grief and how it has changed you.
Because it does. Suicide changes us, fundamentally so.
I’ve been thinking a lot about you and your family lately, going through a lot of my own grief and pain once again. But you know what?
Sometimes I picture the two of you, sitting in that big truck in the sky, telling jokes and waiting for calls that never come. Forever Young.
PRPS 40839 & 36378
(Thanks to my friend Sam and I’m hoping Dr. Wolfelt won’t mind me sharing his insights.)
– Wolfelt, Alan D., 2010. “The Wilderness of Suicide Grief; Finding Your Way.” Companion Press. Fort Collins, Colorado.