by Jan McDaniel
Moving through the aftermath of suicide toward healing is often described as a journey. Just like any other journey, it requires planning, preparing, meeting challenges, moving through periods of rest and chaos, maintaining flexibility, and getting tired.
- Plan – Keep a pen and notebook near your calendar. These three tools can help you organize your day or week. Block out the hours you need to spend doing something that nurtures you and helps you heal. Use this time to read, write letters to your loved one, or take a nap.
- Prepare – Lay out clothes for the next day at night before you go to bed. This works for your children’s clothes and school lunches or other items, too. Anything physical that must be done (paperwork, bills, materials related to work or special meetings) can be set in one spot (desk, shelf, filing cabinet), so you can be ready to face the new day with what you need.
- Meet challenges – Practice meeting challenges. In your notebook, describe a few options for common scenarios. What will you do if the car breaks down? Who is your best back-up baby sitter? Can you ask for routine medical appointments at a time of day that is best for you?
- Move through periods of rest and chaos – Expecting chaos actually lessons its negative effects. If you find yourself facing a challenge, remember that life does not stay in one place for long. Soon, this particular challenge will be behind you. Ask for extra support from family or friends during this time, if you need it. Rest when you can.
- Maintain flexibility – Sometimes, things just don’t work the way you want them to. Give yourself permission to be okay with that fact. And go back to your routine when you can.
- Get tired – Grieving is tiring. Take extra time for rest when you feel too tired. Go to bed early or take a nap. Check with your doctor to see if vitamins might help. And try making a change in your schedule. Do something that is just for fun. Do something for others. Often a change helps break up the day even if you can’t “catch forty winks.”
These are pretty simple suggestions for dealing with some very difficult and debilitating emotions. And this journey is best measured in years. The trip is tiring beyond words. But it is just such small things that often bring the most healing.
Jan McDaniel, a writer from the southeastern United States, lost her husband to suicide in 2007. As a blog columnist and community forum moderator for the Alliance of Hope for suicide loss survivors, she writes about survival, connection, and hope. www.LightThatBringsHope.com