The Merriam-Webster definition of suicide reads: “the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally.”
And so for me the words Survivor of Suicide Loss really mean Survivor of being intentionally left behind...being left alone...again. Having my birth mother leave when I was just 8 moths old, my Daddy was the parent who raised me. So when he “voluntarily and intentionally” chose to end his own life, it was one more parent choosing to leave me.
So for me it wasn’t just dealing with being a survivor of suicide loss, it was dealing with essentially becoming an orphan. No one sat me down and told me this was a pain that would last forever. A pain that certainly dulls with time, a pain that rears it’s head more amidst some life moments than others, but nonetheless a pain that is lurking behind the corner always. No one told me that even when I myself became a parent, this pain would still be present. No one told me that even when you’re an adult, you still have hard moments in life when all you long for is to be loved, held, reassured by a parent. No one told me that I would always be different than everyone else, that that feeling of not fitting in, being unlike anyone else, lasts long into adulthood.
So if you’re reading this and you too are a survivor of suicide loss I want to be genuine with you as a fellow survivor, it’s not a path that ends...it’s a path that sometimes leads to beautiful destinations, but it’s a path that also sometimes leads to thorny stretches that you have to learn to navigate. I want to tell you that often you have to learn to navigate it alone or with someone who hasn’t lost someone to suicide. But I also want to tell you that that’s ok. Those who love you and help you navigate these difficult paths, those who are so different from you in all that they have, that you do not, may be exactly who you need to help you get through those dark moments, because they aren’t carrying the painful package you are, they can help you carry your’s.
Tomorrow, for Survivor of Suicide Loss Day I give you the gift of honesty. I want you to know that it’s not going to be easy, or quick, but you CAN do it! And you CAN have way more good days than bad. And you will get to a place where they aren’t good and bad “days” but good and bad “moments” and you’ll learn that a great day can contain some painful moments and reminders of your loss, but you don’t have to let that overwhelm you and your day. I want you to know that you’ll get to a place where YOU dictate what your moments, your days, your life looks like. And while the shadow of being a survivor of suicide loss will be lurking behind the corner, YOU get to decide to leave it there and continue to move forward. Survivor of Suicide Loss Day is a beautiful reminder that while we may not get to interact with other fellow survivors on a day to day basis, there are many of us out there, and guess what that means, we aren’t alone after all.
As the founder of a non profit that works with victims and survivors of violence, including many cases involving suicide, I think it’s important to mention that these are my thoughts, my personal feelings. As a victim advocate working with many who are currently experiencing the loss of a loved one to suicide, and many who have had a loved one attempt suicide, and many who have attempted suicide themselves...I in no way mean for these words to take away from any thing any of them are experiencing. This is not in any way a judgement on any of them, these thoughts, these words are about my life, my experience and my feelings about my own situation. Because I’m not an advocate 24/7...I’m a survivor 24/7...who works through and past my own trauma, to help others heal.