Two religious traditions celebrate joyful religious holidays during the month of December. Our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the Festival of Lights. Our Christian brothers and sisters celebrate the birth of Jesus. Both traditions are joyful and uplifting events. There are family gatherings and there is an emphasis on gift giving for both of these traditions.
For people grieving a death from a suicide, this time of year can be exceptionally painful because a loved one is no longer there to receive our thoughtful gift or our deceased loved one is no longer there to give a gift. This causes undue pain for survivors. Very often grieving people don’t want to receive any gifts or are not in the mood to shop and give gifts. That is okay for the first year or two but that should not become the norm for the years ahead. In order for grieving people to be able to have the potential for joy and fun and happiness in their future there is one thing required and that is to work diligently in the grief process.
People I have known over the years who have worked hard to resolve the grief are then able to have joy and pleasure and fun in their lives. This is a very lengthy and painful process but it does happen. It has happened to me in my own life as I have grieved the death of my family of origin and it has happened in the lives of people who have been part of the LOSS Program over the past 38 years. The journey is long and painful but joy does return to people’s lives.
What greater gift can a survivor of suicide give to themselves and to their loved ones around them than a commitment and a resolution to work diligently on their grief so that their lives can be recreated and reconstructed in a joyful and positive fashion. The LOSS Program does work. It has helped thousands of people and it can work for each and every one of our LOSS family members. The work is not easy and it is fraught with moments of discouragement and despair but between individual sessions and group sessions the program has proven to be successful. What it takes is a commitment on the part of the grieving person to allow themselves to walk the journey in an environment of acceptance and warmth, and allow themselves to be helped by people who are very nurturing and helpful. It’s a very scary and lonely decision to make but the rewards and the gift are worth it.
It is a gift that will ensure a bright future and a joyful future. People whose lives have been shattered by a suicide can rightfully say, “What’s the use? Life is not worth living.” These attitudes are part of the grieving process and have validity. However, as the grieving process is worked at and the grief is resolved, joy does return, pleasure is experienced and one’s future is bright.
This will not take place automatically or with the passing of time. It takes place only as people work hard with grief. I know. I have been there and I continue to work on the grief in my life. It is a difficult and scary decision to make to traverse the journey of grief. The alternative is that one’s life is endured but not lived. One puts up with life but does not experience joy or pleasure. One tolerates existence and misses opportunities for joy and fulfillment. There is no magical formula and there are no expressways to bypass the pain, but there is a map and a way to go about this journey.