by Jan McDaniel
After a suicide, people may not know what to say and may avoid saying anything. Worse, comments that are judgmental, critical, or invasive can wound survivors deeply.
“He was so selfish to do this to you.” “Obviously, she did not deserve your love.” “What did you do to make him take his own life?” “You should be over this by now.” “Did the insurance pay?” “You have other children.”
It is difficult for survivors to reintegrate into the world around them after a tragedy of this magnitude. The timing is an individual thing but – sooner or later – the world demands a return to something resembling “normal.”
Normal? When I lost my husband to suicide after thirty-three years of marriage, I lost the only life I had known as an adult. Everything we had built together was gone. When my fellow survivors lost precious sons and daughters, siblings, parents and others who were integral to who they used to be, family circles were broken and changed forever.
What was left was an extended grieving period that included issues not found after deaths by other means. Yet, survivors long for and deserve the support and understanding of those around them.
To rebuild shattered lives, something new has to evolve. I used to hate the term “new normal.” But it is an accurate description. I could not go back, much as I wanted to. I could not go forward, at least not for a long while. I had to take the time to grieve, to reassemble my life, to try and make sense of something that made no sense. And I had to do it while interacting with those people still living in the old normal.
Looking back, I can see I stumbled on three things that helped me regain the power and confidence I had lost in my life. I call these the Power of Three. Sounds mystical, doesn’t it? I think it is.