So this is cheery topic for a Friday! What the hell I am doing writing about suicide when this blog is mainly focusses on displays, trade show stands and my deep and abiding love for rock music? Because people read blogs and there maybe people – perhaps even you – that have faced or will face giving up someone they love to suicide. And I want you to know it is OK to talk, think and write about this. The more a light a shone on suicide the less it is covered up, denied and kept in the dark in some secret place to fester. What prompted this post now is a dear friend is mourning the loss of someone in her tribe and I want her to know even in this confusing, emotional turbulent time there is much love. Always, there is love.
I have two areas for you: the before and after.
Tricky, this “before” phase. Once you loose someone to suicide, the years, months, days and moments before their death plays like a never ending show reel in your head. What did you miss? What signs were there that were overlooked? What clues did they give that indicated they were thinking of taking their own life? You will torture yourself and twist your brain looking for answers. In truth, there may have been markers. Or none at all. But I can say that whenever we feel someone is having a rough time, take the time to really ask the question “Are you OK?”. Pick your moment in a quiet place free of distractions so it won’t prompt a rushed answer and then really, really listen to the answer. It might open the door to a larger conversation about what is going on with them or they might shut down. Either way, keep an eye on them. You don’t have to stalk them, have the solutions to their problems or be up in their face with “How are you’s????” but be a presence in their life so they know you are about as they weather this tough time. Will this stop them from taking their life? For those that have made the final decision to suicide, I don’t believe so but for the ones that might be wavering, the lifeline that you throw by those simple words “Are you OK?” might be a step towards removing the suicide option for them.
The “after” phase of suicide is all about those left behind. I am going to give it to you straight here. You will never be the same. There will be big, yawning holes punched through your life. Nothing with draw these holes closed. Physically you will be in shock so expect to feel achingly cold, you will not want to be touched or held, any sort of well meaning conversation will grind against you. The nights are the worst. Your mind puts the show reel of their life on full rotation as you seek out what you missed in the hope you will find the answer to unlocking the mystery of why…why did they feel they had no other option but suicide. When sleep finally does come, you have a few precious seconds each morning where you forget they are dead until your brain snaps back from the fogginess of sleep and reminds you they are dead. Dead. And you tumble back into the pit of despair.
Here’s the thing about the holes that now puncture your life….this is where the light gets in. After some time – and I can’t give you exact timings (sorry), this is your experience, and your experience alone – you will laugh out loud at something. You’ll enjoy eating ice cream in the sunshine. You will hum a favourite tune in the car. You will accept a dinner invitation. And you will remember your loved one with less ache and more softness. That’s the gift of suicide. You learn unconditional love. After the hurt, and white hot anger, the devastation and by the slowly stitching your life in a new pattern, all else fades and you are left with love. The cliche is true, life does go on. You won’t be the same, nothing is going back to the way it was but you do get through it with a new understanding of love and compassion for both yourself and others.
If you are facing more challenges than you feel you can face yourself, can I please recommend these outstanding organisations: Beyond Blue and Lifeline. Both these organisations are also a good place to find support if you have lost a loved one to suicide. Please don’t try to go through the aftermath of suicide alone. As one of my BFF says “Be like a bundle of sticks….we are stronger together”. Word.
One of the best ways for me to cope with challenging times is with humour and so let’s finish with a “up” vibe with this clip from The Colbert Report doing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. Best bit? Jeff Bridges doing the booty bump on the stairs. The Dude gets down!
See you next week…and go hug someone!