November 18, 2017

#nationalsurvivorsofsuicideday This is a day where people who have lost a loved one to suicide unite. But what are we surviving exactly? I know we share and survive the same devastating pain of being forced into a perpetual club we did not seek membership. We survive loving and hating the same person who murdered our everything. We survive never truly accepting the fact we will see, hear, touch, smell, hold, kiss, or laugh with that person again. We survive the countless questions that haunt us throughout our days that will never be answered. We survive knowing our new normal is that nothing will be normal. We survive knowing that we are not allowed to end our pain because we are now fully aware of the vicious cycle and emotional repercussions it will have on others who care about us.

But as I sit and watch the countless suicide loss survivors tying a cloth ribbon on a wreath representing their loved one at the Hope for the Holidays service today I think about the question, “What do us survivors wish the public understood?” We survive the judgement from ill-informed outsiders who think we drove our loved one to suicide. We survive the endless blame and finger pointing that we must have been that “bad” of a human being to make that person kill themselves. We survive the hurtful isolation from friends, family, or people we thought would be there for us who are too damn scared to even tell us that they are sorry for our loss. We survive people moving on with their lives as they wonder why we are not yet “over” the death of our loved one. We survive people changing the conversation when we bring up our loved one’s name during the holidays. We survive the stares, the looks, the whispers, and the distressing gossip. We survive the future awkward conversations from people you might see who never wanted to see our faces again and now are forced to recognize we still exist. We survive people defining our loved one’s life by their final act. We survive people defining our love for them by their final act. We survive the religion that tells others to shame our loved one’s memory and never to speak of them again. We survive churches who won’t bury our loved one because they still have the archaic thinking that they are sinful and not sick. We survive the day we find happiness and feel bad for feeling good again. And we survive the forever, every day pain that was unknowingly passed onto us because our loved ones were mentally ill with depression and thought we would be better off without them. I’ve overheard people saying a “loss is a loss,” but I can’t help but think they have never experienced a suicide loss. Suicide is different. Mental illness and physical illness are not treated equally…and that is the true loss. So on this National Survivors of Suicide Day find comfort that we are not alone and that we will never get over our loved one’s death, but we can get through it…together. 

In loving memory to my late husband, Brett Doolittle. 1980-2015brett 15

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