Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Losing a loved one to suicide is the equivalent of being hit by a semi-truck. Your entire body is broken in every possible way. You’re in a coma for days, maybe even weeks or months. Your bones are broken, ligaments are torn, and organs are failing. You’re not sure how you’re going to survive. You need the support of others in order to get through this trauma.
You slowly begin to regain consciousness, and at times you wish you hadn’t. The pain is still too much. You just want to go back to sleep, to forget the reality of what’s happened. You lay in your bed and you cry. You cry for all you’ve lost, and you cry for the new life you’re expected to now live. You question how you can go on. It feels impossible.
Simply breathing takes effort.
Your injuries are deep, they will take time to mend, but time alone won’t heal these wounds. You’ll need to work with specialists who can help you discover techniques that will promote whole body healing. To fully recover, your practitioners will tell you that you must push through the pain in order to rebuild and grow. Recovery and healing require you to work through excruciatingly painful moments.
There will be times when you’ll want to give up.
It will feel exhausting and isolating. Others might try to comfort you, but few will truly understand the pain you feel. Some people will want you to move forward faster than you’re ready while others will tell you that it’s impossible to ever fully recover. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn how powerful your thoughts and words are. You’ll change the way you think and speak. You’ll give yourself space to feel what you’re feeling, but not be controlled by your emotions.
It’s true, you’ll never be the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal. Healing is possible, but you must work on yourself in order to live fully again. With proper care and a healthy mindset, you’ll find that you’re actually stronger than you were before. Yes, you’ll have good days and bad, but you’ll discover that it is possible to still experience joy, love, and laughter.
On June 2, 1999 I lost my dad to suicide. I was devastated. My heart quite literally felt like it would explode.
I felt myself shutting down. Everyday tasks felt daunting and impossible to manage. My grief felt unbearable and left me feeling as though I would never fully catch my breath again. The pain radiating from my broken heart made every inch of my body hurt.
The intensity of my sadness felt all consuming and laughter felt unforgiveable. I often found myself curled up on the floor, too weak to stand, too distraught to function. I experienced intense and unexpected cravings. I wanted to smoke, to drink, to try drugs … I wanted the pain to stop.
I was fortunate to not give into these cravings, but don’t think that my grief didn’t taint my judgement.
I quit my job and nearly dropped out of college. Up to this point, everything I had ever done had been to make my dad proud. What was the point if he wasn’t there to witness my accomplishments. Fortunately, I was blessed to have the right people by my side who helped me to realize that I had to start living my life in a way that would make me proud.
I returned to college where I poured myself into understanding what happened to my dad. I was in the process of getting my degree in Psychology before he died, but now I was even more determined to understand the human mind. After graduating from college, I took a job at a local crisis center where I worked as a crisis counselor and public educator on suicide prevention and awareness. I was determined that something good would come from losing my dad.
It’s hard to believe that today marks 19 years since I lost him. At times the healing process felt impossible and too painful to overcome. I remember being told on multiple occasions, “one can never fully heal from this type of loss, you simply have to learn how to manage the pain.”
Maybe that’s true for some people, but it doesn’t have to be true for everyone. Healing doesn’t mean that you never feel sadness over the loss you’ve experienced. Healing is when you can feel the sadness but know that this life is still full of love, happiness, and good things to come.
Over the years I’ve been blessed by opportunities which have allowed me to grow and heal, and in the process, I’ve also discovered the good that’s come from such a tragedy.
I loved my dad. I loved how when I stood next to him and leaned in for a hug, my shoulder fit perfectly under his armpit and my head would rest comfortably on his shoulder. Before he got sick, there was a spark in his eye and a warmth in his embrace that always made me feel safe. I miss him. I miss our conversations. I miss his laugh. Most of all … I miss his hugs.
As much as I’d love just one more hug, I can honestly say that my dad’s death has been a blessing in my life. For who he was to me and how his death impacted me have shaped me into who I am today and I’m grateful for all I know and that I’m able to help others.
In honor of my desire to find something good from losing my dad to suicide, I’ve decided the new name for The Lotus Project will be Growing Out Of Darkness. Our mission will be to raise awareness and end stigma while fostering hope and healing. It's through this that my dad's death will continue to bring good into the world.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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