There are many hardships and challenges we as parents face raising our children. Receiving news that one of our children has died by suicide is especially difficult.
You are a grieving mother and your heart is aching over the loss of your child. You love with a love that runs deeper than the deepest ocean and your heart broke into a million pieces the night your child died. Your heart was, and will be forever, changed.
Mental illness is so misunderstood and misjudged. Yet, it is real and your child fought so hard and tried to hold on. He was in so much pain. A pain that no one will ever understand. A pain that lead him to believe that suicide was a better option than living another day.
We’re deeply sorry for your loss. We feel the weight and burden of your loss as a society and as a family of survivors. We continue living each day with this new normal, just as you have to do now.
There are many hardships in life, but coping with the death of a child who dies by suicide sparks a different kind of fire. As a surviving mother, you’re not alone. In fact, there are about 40,000–50,000 new mothers who begin experiencing this heartache every year in the U.S. alone.
This is a difficult journey, a heart wrenching journey, but you’ll find and create the strength to move forward. We hope you know that although you feel terribly alone, you’re not. And while there will be many new challenges, there will also be moments of joy, and moments of beauty that you’ll come to cherish. It’s hard to believe that now, but look for them. They will come.
Grief will bring on every emotion possible, it’s ok and it’s normal to just “feel.” And it’s also okay to not “feel” anything at all at times. It’s. not. your. fault. You are not alone. From Anger to sadness, even being numb or feeling like you’re living in a cloud. Grief comes to everyone and it is different for everyone.
Many kind and well-meaning family and friends will come and offer their advice or condolences. Their, “call me if I can do anything,” speech will certainly come. That’s ok too. Death itself is hard to know what to say or do, but a suicide makes it more challenging. Especially when speaking with the Mother who just lost her son. Responding with, “come sit with me,” can be just as calming as anything else. Not talking or chatting. There is no right or wrong here, just remember they’re trying to help and it’s not worth hurting their feelings over.
Often it’s the grieving parents that have to step up and calm family and friends. Its very draining both physically and emotionally to feel such a void, emptiness in your heart and be the one people expect to console them. If you have a family advocate to be your voice for a few weeks- Use them! They’ll be an anchor for you, so you can be there for others.
Holidays, birthdays, special events, angel-days and ceremonies will be hard. They will bring back painful memories. Though it can be difficult, try and celebrate in honor of them. Remember the good. Their pain in the final moments doesn’t define them. Don’t let their death overpower those memories of joy, happiness and love. Those memories of joy are real, and should be protected.
During the coming days, weeks, months, and years you’ll find yourself needing to focus on taking care of yourself. Maintaining your whole health (physical, spiritual, social, mental and emotional) will take work and effort, but you’ll find more hope and healing as you do so.
Here are seven tips to keep yourself on a path toward healthy healing:
1-Stay in touch — It is important to stay connected with friends and family for support and guidance and to avoid the tendency to isolate yourself. Isolation breeds unhappiness. It’s tempting, but don’t do it.
2-Heal at your own pace — Grief is real because your love is real. There is no end to grief. It changes, but never ends. We don’t just “get over it” and “time does not heal.” The process must occur and it will last however long it takes.
3-Grieve together — Your family, friends, and son’s friends, are all experiencing grief in their own way. The emptiness. The void. The dagger shooting ice through everyone’s hearts and veins is real. Schedule time to gather around to share memories of joy, love, laughter, and fun that was had prior to your child’s death. Don’t be afraid to talk. Talk about the memories and what you’ll miss about not having your child around for the future.
4-Grieve alone — Journaling your thoughts, memories, and pain during this difficult time will help you to process your feelings. If you find it difficult to see the pages through your tears, it’s ok. It’s normal. Keep going. You are doing wonderful! Life will never be the same, nor should it. Record your thoughts, feelings, and ideas on what you’d like to do differently, and how you’d like to change. Pay particular attention to the feelings you may have regarding your surviving family members. How can you show them that you love them so deeply despite the pain? Recording a new vision of who you’d like to become during these moments of deep reflection will help you move forward when you are ready.
5-Connect with other survivors — There are many survivors who have lost children to suicide. Getting in touch with them is as easy as asking Google for local support groups, finding a Facebook group, or starting your own. Get the support from others who have gone through this painful experience. Don’t go with any expectations, just go with courage. You’ll need it as you open up and become vulnerable.
6-Seek counseling — When you are ready and if it feels right for you, find a licensed therapist or counselor you can work well with. Losing someone to suicide is a legitimate reason to seek professional help in navigating the difficulties of surviving such a tragic event.
7-Volunteer — As you regain strength and the ability to cope with the death of your child, you’ll realize that others are now just entering the deepest waters you’re exiting. Share whatever life saving techniques you’ve successfully used to survive. Send your tips to us at Suicide Sucks — We’ll make sure the world sees them. Let the newcomers feel, grieve, and experience each stage as they need to, just as you did. In addition to helping others one on one, find a non-profit you can support, and ask for ways to contribute your energy and efforts toward the cause.
You are on a unique and painful journey, and there will be a lifetime of pitfalls and heartache, but there will also be many moments of joy, hope and love. The important thing to remember is that this is your journey. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve.
At Suicide Sucks, we know. If you’re joining our family, we welcome you with open arms, broken hearts, and eyes full of tears. We. Are. So. Sorry. We can barely hold back our tears as we type this, imagining the pain you’re feeling. If we could hug you till the pain was gone, we would!!!
Please understand you’re not alone. Please believe that your child is free of pain and the love you have for your child is why your grief journey is such a hard one.
To get in touch email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thank you to the surviving Mothers who helped compile this article. Without their real perspective on survivorship strength, this would not have been possible.