Now that the holidays have come to an end, survivors can breathe a big sigh of relief that the decorations can come down and the grief journey can continue. The holidays are generally a very stressful time because there is so much gaiety and cheerfulness, and survivors of a suicide are almost forced to put on the “happy face”. It is very difficult to get through the holidays with such a heavy heart.
With the New Year comes all of the best wishes that people express to each other. There is a resounding call for “Happy New Year”. I stress the word “new” because there is a lot of new things that impact survivors of a suicide. There is the new person that oftentimes evolves during the grief process. I remember years ago talking to a survivor who stated very clearly that “part of the grief process is grieving the person that I used to be”.
That makes perfect sense to me because losing a loved one to suicide is such a pivotal event that nothing is ever the same after as before. There is a sea-change that takes place in the life of a survivor. Very often these changes are for the better because the survivor is more sensitive to the world around them. Survivors look at life in a very different way. Things that were viewed as so important in the past don’t look all that important once a loved one has ended their life.
Survivors are more sensitive when they hear about someone else losing a loved one in any way. When a survivor hears or reads about some family losing a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan or some other place in the world survivors know that this family is going through an incredible amount of pain. Survivors look at the world in a very different way.
Survivors are more sensitized to the plight of other people whose lives are changed by a sudden and tragic death. This is a positive characteristic that becomes part of the person who is grieving the loss of a loved one from suicide. This is part of the new person that is evolving as a result of losing a loved one to suicide. That is a characteristic that would gladly be returned to have that loved one back to life. Since that is not going to happen survivors are challenged to accept the fact that a new and different quality is going to emerge as a result of losing this loved one to suicide.
Another part of the grief process is recognizing the new life that will emerge as a result of losing a loved one to suicide. The “old order” has died with that loved one and in time a “new order” will evolve. Survivors often long for that life that was lived and enjoyed. Was it the perfect life? Probably not. None of us lives the perfect life. All of us have challenges in our lives. But, in general, it was a good life and it was enjoyable.
All of a sudden when a loved one has completed suicide the previous life is over in a flash. In the immediate aftermath of the suicide survivors long for the life that was lived before. Part of the grieving process is grieving the life that is now over and will never be the same again. Survivors wonder if there will ever be happiness, joy or pleasure again in their life. The answer to that question is yes. There will be joy, happiness and pleasure in the new life but everything is going to be different as this new life emerges.