How my Questions Impacted my Healing
“Why would she do this?”
“Why did he choose to leave us?”
“Why didn’t she realize how much we loved her?”
“Why didn’t he think about how this would hurt us?”
“Why didn’t he ask us for help?”
“Why was she so selfish?”
In the fall of 1999 I attended my first survivor of suicide support group hoping that I might find some sort of peace from the unbearable pain I was feeling. I was looking for answers to questions I had regarding my dad’s death. I quickly learned that my questions seemed different than most other survivors. While they asked why, I asked how.
“How did I not realize how sick he was?”“How did I not see this coming?”“How could I be in the middle of getting my degree in Psychology and not see the signs?”“How could this happen to the man who was always there challenging me to be better, to do better, and to live a life that I could look back on and be proud of my journey?”“How do I move forward without him here to encourage me?”“How do I breathe?”
Over the years I have attended numerous support groups in various cities around the country and in my everyday life I have encountered more survivors of suicide than one would think is possible. It didn’t take long for me to realize that part of the reason my questions were different from other people was because I always saw my dad’s death as the result of an illness. Now, over 17 years later, I realize what a blessing that has been to me.
Even though I recognized that my dad’s suicide was caused by depression, that didn’t prevent me from feeling the shock over the tragedy of losing him. I felt paralyzed by overwhelming grief, I experienced panic attacks, and I was angry at the world. I was never angry at my dad – to me he was the misunderstood, overlooked patient who experienced extreme pain while feeling completely hopeless and alone before losing his battle with depression.
Unlike those who are battling other terminal illnesses, he was judged by most of society for making the choice to not get better. He was resented and sometimes hated by those who didn’t understand his pain, and for what they perceived as his choice to hurt his children and wife. He was alone when he died even though he was at a house full of people who loved him.
His depression prevented him from feeling anything other than anguish, pain, guilt, shame, and worthlessness. His depression killed the man I knew as my dad long before his physical death took place.
I truly believe that my understanding that his death was the result of an illness played a huge role in my ability to heal in a healthy manner. As my journey of healing moved forward my questions changed to:
“How can I make something good out of this tragedy?”“How can I help others heal from experiencing a similar loss?”“How can I help others to understand that depression is not a choice?”“How can I change the way people talk about depression and suicide?”“How do I create a movement that encourages our society to make changes that could decrease the rate of depression and increase the means in which people seek treatment options that truly provide healthy healing?”
Asking myself these questions and pondering over possible answers helped me to understand that while I don’t have all the answers to my questions, I can’t help anyone if I don’t speak up and if I don’t challenge others to do the same. I have spent the last three years documenting my healing process and the many opportunities I have experienced that most people will never be exposed to. In my attempt to make something good out of my loss and to help others who have experienced similar pain I have written a guide to healthy healing.
It is my hope that others will benefit from all that I have learned while navigating through the grief of losing my dad to suicide. I am proud to announce that I have completed my work and it is in the hands of my publisher. The book is called Growing Through Grief – A guide to healthy healing after losing a loved one to suicide. It should be available in April 2017.
A special thank you to everyone who has supported me in this process – I could not have gotten to where I am today without the unconditional love and support of my family and friends. Thank you!
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.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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