What does it feel like to lose a loved one to suicide? It feels like your entire world has just been ripped apart by a tsunami. It crashes through without warning and sweeps away everything that you once knew, it rearranges the very foundation under your feet, it takes people with it, it tears apart homes and it leaves you with far more questions than answers. You find yourself grasping at anything within reach, something solid enough to hang on to and pray your own weight doesn’t become too much of a burden. When the tide recedes as if nothing happened, you are left standing, or laying right where it left you. You don’t understand how the birds can possibly be singing again, how the sun can dare to shine or how life can even begin to return to any sort of normalcy. But it does. Though you are certain the world stopped spinning on its axis in that split second everything changed, it continues to turn even as you are left looking for pieces and fragments of anything it may have left behind. It changes everything.
Many people that I know are walking through the loss of a loved one to suicide right now and my heart aches for them. Sometimes there just aren’t words for moments like that nor are they necessary. Do not be afraid to reach out to those left behind after a loss, they don’t need or expect you to have all of the answers either. Just let them know you are there, to sit with them in silence, to help them sort through the debris, to fix them a meal and remind them to eat, to embrace them when they cry and/or when they get angry, throw rocks with them. I have a dear friend who lost his partner a few years ago and the thing that stood out to him the most from that night was the officer who embraced him and helped him through all of the additional stress that followed. We all need people like that.
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