It is the four year anniversary of the death of my brother by suicide. If there is anything that I would like to say to survivors of suicide loss on this day and always, it’s that it is going to be alright. Yes, it is true, your world has turned upside down. Your perception that nothing will ever be the same is correct. Your notion that you are now a permanently changed, new person, is 100% accurate. The feeling that there is a part of you that has died and that is never coming back is correct as well. But there is something that you must keep repeating to yourself: It is going to be okay.
I have experienced a lot of loss in life, yet there is something unique about the grief of suicide loss. It is a slower path. In four years of grieving, I have still only progressed to the point that I was at after about a year or so of other types of loss. I am just now getting to the point that my sense of guilt, though still there, is not quite as potent and overwhelming. I am just getting to the point that the feelings of absolute horror are now less frequent. I am coming to a place where I can focus on the good things and joyful times rather than on the loss. Yes, my friend, it is going to be alright.
Your faith may be shaken. Your sense of security and safety may be off-kilter. Your perception of God may be tested. But again, it is going to be alright. It is my true feeling that God is not going anywhere, talk to Him, be honest, be straight up. He will listen patiently, and He will not abandon you. Talk to your loved one who is now departed as well. Let them know how you feel. They can take it. Relationships don’t truly “end” because of death. The mental and spiritual relationship is still there. Plus, if you confront the issues, your faith and positive memories can come out even stronger than you ever thought possible. It is going to be alright.
I’m not going to lie, there will be friends and loved ones who will let you down. Maybe they will say the wrong thing, or even worse, nothing. Maybe they will abruptly change the subject, out of discomfort, when you mention your loved one. Maybe they will say something stigmatizing or judgemental about your loved one, mistakenly thinking that it will comfort you. Maybe they will stereotype your loved one. Maybe they will avoid you. Maybe they will act like nothing happened. It’s okay, because someone, somewhere, will cross your path just when you least expect it, and will offer you a kind ear and a beacon of hope. God will give you support, in the form of other survivors, sometimes even perfect strangers, who sense the common link that you have to suicide, and they will say the right thing just when you need to hear it. Help will come by way of the most unlikely people and in the least expected ways. It is going to be alright.
Maybe, as in my case, you will be completely abandoned or verbally abused by people whom you love because they blame you for the tragedy. I hope with all my heart that this does not happen to you. I wish it had not happened to me. That being said, however, in the words of Elton John: “I’m still standing, better than I’ve ever been, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. I’m still standing, after all this time, picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind….”. Only they are on your mind. But it’s okay, because you forgive them, and you’re still standing. The door that is open to reconciliation stands as well.
We have a choice to make as survivors. We can wallow in self-pity, turn inward, and get caught up in our own world. And doing so is alright. Sometimes that is what we need to do, at least temporarily. We can make unhealthy choices like lashing out at others and laying blame, God forbid. Or we can make the choice to positively turn that energy outward, in order to help other survivors, promote suicide prevention, and help save lives. We can choose whether or not to share our story, and with whom, when and wherever we want. We don’t have to shout it out to the world in a loud way if we don’t want to, or we can. Whatever you choose, it is going to be okay. You will do the right thing. Be patient with yourself. It is going to be alright.
If there is one thing that I would say to those contemplating suicide, it’s to hold on to life, because it’s going to be alright. The average depressive episode, even untreated, lasts no more than six months, if that. I know that this can seem like an eternity when you are going through it. I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve had so much depressive pain that I literally howled. A blood-coiling, shrill howl, in a dorm room, that was overheard by the whole floor. But I got through it, and you can also. And things are alright for me. Maybe even better than alright. God heals. The pain is temporary. You can do it! Though it is hard sometimes, and I have experienced many tragedies, I love life. If you need someone to talk to, call the suicide hotline at the end of this article. Don’t think, just call. Hold on for a brighter day….
If I could go back in time, if there is one thing I wish I could have said to my brother, it is that “it’s going to be alright”. I would have liked to have told him to hold on, that better days were coming. But it is what it is, and it was what it was. So to him I still say, it is going to be alright. I do not hope that he has regrets or remorse or shame. I hope, and know in my heart, that he has a new life now. I know that he is always with me. I know that he is watching over my family. I know that he is waiting to greet us on the other side.
To the girl who tries so hard to be positive, who cried herself to sleep last night, listening to “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road” from her phone, holding it to her heart: If there is one thing that I will say to myself, it is that it is going to be alright. There are new chances and new beginnings in this life, and on the other side. Whatever questions remain will eventually be answered. Whatever tears remain will be wiped away, and replaced with joy one day. All mysteries will be solved, and it will all make sense.
Until then, in my mind’s eye, I see my brother’s arms opened wide. He is dressed in white, with a smile on his face. When he gazes into my eyes, I see a twinkle in his blue eyes. He hugs me and tells me that he loves me. He tells me to look out for his daughter, and I agree. I tell him that I will keep his memory alive for her. After we embrace, and before ascending back to Heaven, he reminds me….
“Hey Sis, it is going to be alright”.
Praise God, finally, I believe it….
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255