What No One Tells You About Surviving Suicide

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Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. I never expected to have anything to do with the word suicide except to read about it happening to someone else, somewhere else, a place far removed from me. But one night it came right into my home. 

It was a cold Wednesday night, just this past December when I turned the key to my apartment, just like I'd done the previous night and every night before to find my mother hanging from the ceiling fan- my red winter scarf as her noose.

I remember the events of that night and that first week with a vivid clarity I wish I could forget. Being in shock. Tearfully thanking paramedics for their condolences. Planning her arrangements, and hearing people refer to me as "next of kin" or worse-"survivor." I remember feeling nauseous and force feeding myself something other than coffee because I had no appetite. I remember the flashbacks, the trauma the phone calls.  

No one tells you how painful those phone calls are to make. To pick up the phone and relieve the events or explain to your four-year-old nephew why grandma "doot doot" isn't coming to Christmas this year, or any year from here on out. 

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No one tells you-you will lie in bed and pray for your heart to stop. That sorrow will find its way to you and follow you around like a needy cat and that your most cherished and beloved friends and family will not be able to rouse you from the depths of your despair on even the brightest of days. 

No one tells you-you will never hear the word suicide the same way again. That even though you know exactly why they did it you still ask yourself that lingering question. My mother was an open book, so I knew she struggled with feelings of worthlessness and feeling like a burden after moving in with me when she found herself unceremoniously homeless post break-up a week before. I knew years of depression, self-loathing, shame, and addiction were contributing factors to why she chose to end her life just five days before Christmas. But no one tells you that you'll ask those questions anyway. Regardless of all logic, the why's will run on repeat with no reprieve in the dark corners of your mind. 

No one can prepare you for a loss like suicide, just as no one can prepare you to see your loved one reduced to a six-pound bag of course sand and sharp bone fragments. No one tells you that grieving is not straightforward or that there is no protocol for mourning. Bereavement you find out is as complex as the loved one that you lost. 

No one tells you our culture has nowhere to put these dark feelings of sadness and grief and that you'll sound the alarms when you give words to your feelings or articulate your despair. That try as you might you won't always shake the numbness, no matter how many glasses of cheap merlot you drink to hurry through your grief and feel again. 

The brief sense of longing that creeps in is fresh and simultaneously far removed. But no one tells you this. And while no one can prepare you for moving forward into a year of first's- the holidays, and "deathaverseries" will come regardless of your reluctance. 

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We share so often the good things, the pretty stuff, the easy things of our lives online. But life is not always good or pretty or easy. I never thought that I would walk through the loss of suicide or that it would become part of my story, but I'm stepping out and sharing because it brings a sense of purpose to an otherwise senseless situation. My mom searched the world for happiness and purpose and it wasn't until the aftermath of losing her that I felt like I'd truly found my own.