What it’s like to live life with a deceased suicide family member.
First things first although commonalities exist amongst people who have experienced a certain type of loss, individual grief is unique to the person experiencing it and their relationship with the person who died. Although we can talk in averages and generalities, no article, grief theory, or set of symptoms will ever perfectly sum up your grief experience. Further, although you might be able to relate to aspects of another person’s grief (and vice versa), no one can completely understand how anyone else feels. With this in mind, we recommend you learn what you can from your commonalities with other grievers but take differences with a grain of salt.
Well, where do I start between 2018- 2019 I’ve experienced some of the hardest
challenges to date throughout this year. I feel incredibly vulnerable and I know for sure my brother Michael does too! For this year alone he has lost first a daughter and 10 months later he’s lost a son both in a way, the same way to “mental health issues”. So yes there’s been a level of rawness and hopelessness throughout that I’ve not experienced before and seeing your brother go through so much is a pain like no other, it’s like you can feel every ounce of his pain it really has been like being in a horror movie that you can’t wake up from… and yes, its pain that no parent should ever have to go through. Mellissa and Shaun were their names both having left this earth plane leaving three beautiful children each behind.
Growing up was very strange for us younger siblings as we were the same age as our
nephews and nieces but it was a good strange because we got to grow up together, like a little team of best friends we were more like brothers and sisters more than us being aunt and uncles which is what we were meant to be, we would just tell people we were cousins in the earlier days. We went on so many missions and adventures and have so many good memories together, yes it was a friendship that created a tight bond and those bonds will never be broken and love will never get lost… life now is certainly not going to be the same without them, we were meant to grow old together. Yes, I’m crying and wiping my eyes as I write this… They were some of the nicest people you could have ever met so it’s very hard to understand WHY? and yes why is it always the best people
we never get the chance to say goodbye to properly or that have to just leave too early… Their absence will certainly be felt and they will be missed dearly every day.
I think cousins, nephews, and nieces are in a good position to do that because they’re one step removed from siblings anyway. I saw it written once that nobody understands your crazy family like cousins do, and I do think there’s some truth in that. I’ve not talked much about this before but I to have lost babies one would have been 22 anther 20 and another 18 now and that alone was heart-wrenching, but this is a different level of grief and I believe that there are many levels of grief but depending on each person affected everyone is different!.
I’ve also lost my mother to MND “motor nurone disease “another one of the worst diseases to ever have to watch in a loved one there’s just so much pain and suffering. We’ve also lost our father to ” coronary heart disease” and “prostate cancer” and lost many aunts and uncles and all our grandparents.
How can we talk about suicide…?
Although there are many fine points to this conversation, I simply want to impress the following upon you… When referring to an individual’s death from suicide…
Don’t say… “She committed suicide.” Do say… “he’s killed himself” or “She died by suicide”
I know most of you are used to saying, “committed suicide” and you certainly aren’t alone. Many people in our society have yet to get this memo, but now you have. Please, the time has come for us to choose language around suicide that does not condemn or stigmatise the person who has died or those who love them and are left behind.
There are other traumatic loss risk factors associated with suicide such as feelings of blame, witnessing death, and finding the body. Deaths that are also potentially traumatic events can result in the compounding and intertwining of trauma and grief responses. These may manifest as the following.
- Recurrent intrusive thoughts about the death
- Shattered assumptions about the world, oneself, and others
- Fear and avoidance of grief and trauma emotions, thoughts, memories, etc.
- Feelings of guilt and blame
When grieving a suicide death, one may experience…
The search for answers:
In the wake of death, people often seek to construct a meaningful narrative that helps them to find peace and understanding of what happened. So, it’s common to ask questions like “what if?”, “why?”, and “what’s the point?” Until the question of “why” can be answered, grieving family and friends may continue to search and ruminate.
After a suicide death, as with any other type of death, the bereaved may seek to make sense of what happened. However, in this instance, they may find that many of their questions are either unanswerable or they lead to distressing conclusions (whether these conclusions are true or not). It is not uncommon for themes of personal blame to arise as the person questions their role in their loved one’s suicide and what they could have done to prevent their death. Unfortunately, the bereaved may vastly overestimate their own role and the role of others (i.e. what family and friends did or didn’t do), as opposed to blaming things like mental illness which is quite often present and to blame.
Whether rational or not, grieving family and friends may struggle with distressing thoughts like…
- I never really knew him I mean really knew him.
- She didn’t feel comfortable confiding in me what did I do wrong.
- Oh no, he was in intense pain!
- I’m to blame. I should have done more to prevent his death.
- I’m to blame. I pushed him into the decision to kill himself.
- She didn’t love me enough to live.
- My family members are to blame.
- It was his fault, or it was her fault.
- Family Conflict
Family can be an incredible source of comfort and healing after a death…for some. For others, family can be a source of distressing conflict and misunderstanding after a death. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death, things like complicated family dynamics, shifting roles, and different coping styles can test and challenge a family. After a suicide death, additional conflict may emerge because…
- The deceased’s mental illness and suicidal behaviour created disruption and placed strain on the family as a whole.
- Family members disagree about how they want to acknowledge the death publicly.
- Family members disagree about how they want to discuss death privately within the family.
- Different family members come up with different explanations for why their loved one killed him- or herself
Feelings of rejection and abandonment:
Evidence has shown that suicidally bereaved individuals experience higher levels of rejection compared with other bereaved groups. In grief, feelings of guilt, blame, regret, and rejection can be logical, but they can also defy all logic and reason. So even when it’s evident that the suicide was not an act of intentional abandonment, it still may feel that way to the people who grieve the death.
The truth of what it’s like being on the receiving end after they’ve left!
So here it is…This is the truth of being a bereaved parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent “what it’s like to live life with a deceased suicide family member that you love very dearly because some people “just can’t fathom it”… Well, let me do my best to explain it in a way that can be understood…
It’s being dead but still being able to breathe, barely.
It’s like having your entire world thrown into a blender and mixed up to a liquid. Having your heart and lungs ripped out of your body so violently and never put back. Leaving a hole in your chest that will never heal and seeps pain, tears, anger, hate, and regret.
It’s like living in a dream that you can never wake up from, except it’s a fucking nightmare. A lifelong fucking nightmare.
It’s like having a large glass jar filled with happiness and you drop it on the ground and all the happiness blows away in the wind to never return.
It’s like having a million people around hugging and loving you but you still feel completely alone. Going from having people to talk with to having not one person message or call anymore because they don’t know what to say to you … at all, about anything…
It’s standing in the kitchen cooking food for the ones still here and crying so hard you can’t see yourself burning the food.
Some days it’s falling to the floor, screaming so hard that no sound comes out and you run out of breath but don’t stop screaming until you are hyperventilating and dizzy.
It’s a million little demons battling one single tiny angel in your brain, testing to see if you’re strong enough or not to survive this.
It’s like always trying to convince yourself that people want you around even though you feel like you’re just a placement for convenience in this world and in people’s lives.
Honestly. It’s like knowing that you’re going to die eventually and embracing it with open arms like a long-lost friend.
It’s like you holding on with everything you have and feel it all melt away.
No, it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t get easier. You just learn to live, to survive.”
The pain is just past on and I believe you have to watch it from the other side when you get there so it just won’t help.
Fear of grief reactions:
After death mourners often feel as though they are going crazy, and, as noted, those who have experienced a traumatic loss often experience intensified and prolonged grief/trauma reactions.
It is common for a person to feel relieved after a loved one dies when the loved one had been living in pain and suffering. For those who die from illness, the relief comes from
knowing they are no longer in physical pain. And when a person dies from something like suicide or overdose, the relief may come from a place of knowing that their loved one is no longer struggling with emotional (and sometimes physical) pain.
Another reason someone might feel relief is if the loved one’s suicidal behaviour (or other types of behaviour) had put a strain on their family or other types of relationships. This doesn’t mean that the person grieving the loss wouldn’t trade their relief to have their loved one back for just one moment, or that they don’t also feel intense pain and sadness. It just means that relief is one feeling in their big, messy, hurricane of grief.
Feelings of isolation, stigma and/or shame:
Sadly, there is a stigma attached to mental illness and suicide. Others can’t imagine the mental and emotional pain that would cause a person to kill themselves and so they might make assumptions or judge the deceased’s actions, calling them weak or selfish or who knows what else.
This being the case, it’s no wonder that many people choose not to open up about their loved one’s death. Stigmatised losses may also be referred to as disenfranchised losses. The following are just a few potential causes for isolation, stigma, and shame following a suicide death:
Isolation and shame may result in the family’s decision to keep the suicide a secret. Feeling unable to acknowledge the truth, those grieving the loss may feel as though they have to lie or live in silence.
- Shame may result from thoughts of personal blame and responsibility.
- Shame may result from the belief that one can’t control or manage their own grief reactions.
- Isolation and shame may result from a lack of social support or because others don’t acknowledge the death.
- Shame, isolation, and stigma may be felt in response to messages from media and broader society about suicide
- Isolation may result from perceived rejection and thoughts of worthlessness.
In this day and age with the way things are now this stigmatising just has to stop and people really need to look at things differently, because from what I can see with the numbers of suicides, the mental health and the anxiety in the world rising so high theirs a bit of a chain reaction going on here!
Shaun was already struggling with “mental health “ but losing his sister, it became too unbearable for him to acknowledge the truth of it and he was finding it hard to deal with. Because of how soon it was between Mellissa losing her life and now suddenly Shaun. We the family are trying so hard to collect donations from anyone willing to help towards Shaun’s funeral costs. At the moment it’s impossible for Mom and Dad to pay for two in one year. I’m going to be putting a link in right “here for Shaun” Help raise funds for this unfortunate sad loss of yet another one of the family members. It was very unexpected and a complete shock to the family and we would very much appreciate any help that is possible… Just £1 each could help us to reach our goal and help us give Shaun the send-off he deserves thank you to everyone for your help xx
As you know Melissa passed last year well, we managed to raise £2000 towards Melissa’s three children’s first Christmas without her and we’d like to thank everyone again that donated as it certainly made a big difference although it will never be the same without their mother thank you.xxx
In the meantime every day find time to talk with someone you don’t know. Listen to their story. Do it in person. Learn from them. Be your brother’s keeper, your sister’s shelter. When a neighbour is in need or a thirsty young mind is denied the challenges and opportunities to grow and flourish, or a sister or brother is crushed by a purposefully flawed criminal justice system that rewards winning rather than justice, find a way to do something about it now.
If you have a teacher or mentor who made a great or even small impact on your life, tell them. Call them, write to them, let them know what a wonderful impact they had on you. Life is too short not to validate the ones who have changed our lives in a profound way. Then there will be no regrets when they pass on because you already told them what was in your heart, and your life will be richer for it in ways that you never dreamed. It’s not about being perfect.
Young people need to know that the things that make you successful at school, like following rules, working the hardest and being perfect, are not what will make you happy outside of school. Follow your instincts, experiment, try things out, talk to people “way out of your professional league,” and keep dreaming big dreams. There is always a way out no matter how bad it seems — that job, that career path, that relationship — trust yourself enough to let it go if it is making you question your self-worth or it isn’t what you want to be remembered for. God bless you all and please take care of you and your loved ones.💚°*”˜.•°*”˜♥ ˜”*°•.˜”*°💚
Copyright © 2019 Joanne Wellington All Rights Reserved.
If you are grieving a loved one’s death from suicide you may find these resources helpful:
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Posted on 03/10/2019, in Cousin, Daughter, Death, Family, General, Health, life, mental heath, Nephew, New age, Niece, Philosophy, Relationships, Society, Son, Suicide, Uncategorized and tagged Advice, bereaved, blame, Child, Conflict, Cousin, dead, deceased, Emotion, Family, General, Health, heart disease, hopelessness, inspiration, isolation, Learning, life, loss, love, Mental Health, Middle age, MND, nethue, Niece, Pain, prostate cancer, Relationships, stigma, stigmatize, Suicide, traumatic events, truth, WHY. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.