Sadness, depression and despair are common and almost inevitable following the loss of a loved one by suicide. In the beginning, survivors are not in control of their emotions. Pain is so great that it is difficult for many to find hope or envision a future that holds any happiness.
Most survivors say that until they experienced this kind of loss, they had no idea that pain could be so deep. Many mental health professionals still do not understand the depth of pain felt by survivors.
"The pain is just overwhelming. At times it takes my breath away and I think how can I survive? This is just too much to be able to bear."
"I keep losing myself. I start doing things around the house and then can't remember what I was doing. My mind just wants to shut down. I manage to go on but it doesn't seem real, like I'm in 2 different places. I miss her so very much that it feels as if my soul has been ripped apart."
"I wasn't prepared for this to happen. (How could anyone be?) I can't come to grips with this event. I want my boy back. I don't want him gone. I feel so sorry and regretful that I couldn't stop this. I feel so tormented by my son's suicide. I feel so ill when I think about never seeing my son again ... ill, like there is a cinder-block on my chest ... ill, like my throat is closing up. I cried all day today. I want this not to be true. ... All I want is my beloved son back and it is not going to happen and I'm devastated. The pain and sorrow keep getting worse and worse. My heart is broken beyond repair. I feel so dead inside, yet so full of the most incomprehensible emotions I have ever experienced in my whole life."
Because the pain is so great, many survivors have thoughts about ending their own lives. Sometimes they feel that will allow them to join their loved ones. They will say things like:
"While I manage to get through the days --- because I have to --- I'm mired in guilt and grief and just don't see any reason to go on myself."
"The pain hurt so bad then and still today, that I want to die, not that I would kill myself, but if a truck pulled in front of me it would be fine."
Loss by suicide is traumatic. The grief experienced is unlike any other. It commonly leaves people with very real invisible wounds. Our bodies go on hyper-alert. Our serotonin levels plunge. We are left with debilitating symptoms of depression as well as post-traumatic stress that last longer than we would like them to. It is wise seek professional help. You do not have to travel this journey alone.
In the beginning survivors wonder if they will ever experience joy or contentment again. Survivors who are further along in their healing journey are quick to speak up, with reassurance that the pain does soften and diminish. People do survive loss by suicide and even eventually go beyond just surviving to once again have happy, meaningful and contributory lives, but surviving is not easy. In the aftermath of loss, survivors are forever changed. They must travel an arduous and painful journey, grieving the loss of their loved one and rebuilding their lives.