An open letter to those suffering from the loss of a loved one

Yesterday evening as I was cooking dinner, I had my iPad charging on the bench alongside my workspace. Whilst waiting for the vegetables to finish cooking, I flicked onto FB where I found a post from the Breakfast Team at my favourite radio station with  the shocking news that the husband of one of the announcers had committed suicide. Also mentioned was that he had been suffering depression for some time.
I don’t know this woman personally however I have listened to her for a large number of years. Prior to being on this station, she was with another station and I listened to her there also. Over the years she has shared her life with her listeners. We have shared in her joy at the birth of her boys and laughed as she recounted conversations between her and her husband over numerous every day issues.
Last year I had the privilege of meeting her and author Frances Whiting in a small group that shared high tea and discussed Frances’ book “Walking on Trampolines”. As two of the characters in Frances’ book suffered depression, this was one of our topics of discussion. I was able to participate knowing what depression is and what it does. I too have considered suicide as way out of the pain. I too have watched as loved ones struggle with this horrid mental illness.

As I said, I do not know this woman but I have met her. And the news of her husband’s death rocked me to the core.
I sympathise and empathise with her.
Losing anyone you love is difficult. I have lost many in my life in sudden and tragic circumstances. Losing someone you love to suicide (after depression) can only be equally tragic. I can imagine how I would feel if my son had been successful in his own attempt at ending his life a few weeks ago.

This morning as I was meditating, I felt that I had to blog about this.
So I have written an open letter to anyone who is grieving after the loss of someone to suicide and depression.

Dear soul,

My heart goes out to you at this time as you struggle to understand what has happened. No doubt there is a raw and gaping wound in your own heart that you feel will never be healed. I am not going to tell you that it will heal completely because no wound inflicted like this ever really heals. There will be scarring and that scarring will still cause pain at times. Usually when you least expect it.
As you go through the motions of life each day,  your heart will hold back until it is ready to join life once again. It has suffered and will not easily trust or love for some time yet as it fears breaking once more.
Be gentle with yourself.

You will find that as the days go on, you will begin to live a different kind of life. It will never the be the same as it was before, so don’t expect it to be so or be disappointed that things have changed so much. You will begin to live a ‘new kind of normal’. It will not the be same ‘normal’ as others but will be what works for you.
Be accepting of this.

You are probably wondering what you could have done to stop your loved one leaving this life. This is normal.
But please, please don’t castigate yourself. It is not your fault. It is not anyone’s fault except that of depression.
Be forgiving of yourself.

So many ‘what ifs’ are probably coursing through your brain. But ‘what ifs’ won’t bring your love back. ‘What ifs’ serve only to drag you down so please don’t engage with those thoughts.
Be at peace within yourself.

As you struggle to understand, please know that the one you love more than likely did this because of how much they loved you. The lies fed by depression are insidious and ugly. Depression tells a person that they are not enough for this life and those that they love will be far better off without them.
Depression intensifies any feelings of guilt associated with even minor events or situations. These feelings of guilt are then magnified out of proportion by a mind that is ill.
Depression robs a person of joy; real deep and meaningful joy.
You may have seen your loved one laughing or smiling. Depression doesn’t completely stop a person from living life when in the company of others but it sneaks back and sits at their feet when they are alone with their thoughts.
It robs a person of seeing the beauty in life by hiding it under an impenetrable black cloud.
Depression is a thief and a liar.
Please know that if the person you loved wasn’t suffering so much, they would never have left you. They just couldn’t see the sunlight that was right there behind those seemingly insurmountable black clouds.
Be angry at depression but don’t be angry with your loved one.

At this time, you may have many of these same feelings as you deal with this loss.
Know that these feelings will pass although it doesn’t feel like they will right now.
Over the coming days you may find yourself alternating between deep sadness and anger. This too is normal. Let your emotions run free. Do what you need to do to get through this time in your life.
Be comfortable with expressing your emotions.

Please know that you are surrounded by people who love and care for you. Reach out to them. Hug them and be comforted by this love. Hold fast to the knowledge that you were also deeply loved by the person you have lost.
Be comforted by the love that is around you.

On the day that you arise and see the sun a little brighter than it was the day before, know that healing is taking place.
Life will never be the same as it was before but like a butterfly, you will emerge from this cocoon of sadness as a stronger and more beautiful being.
Be strong. Be beautiful.

Be at peace.

Namaste

 

 

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45 thoughts on “An open letter to those suffering from the loss of a loved one

  1. If there’s anyone who knows what depression is, it’s you after all that you have been through. Your words are filled with love and understanding that, I’m sure, all who have had this type of loss will feel some comfort from. Bless you, Suzanne.

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  2. Such a heartfelt letter written with love to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one’s death by suicide. It is filled with hope and messages of healing, much needed advice from someone like you, who has experienced the challenge of depression. But not all emerge like a butterfly, stronger and more beautiful! It is a conscious choice one has to make to find support, ask for help and transform their grief – a true act of courage!

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  3. Suz, this is filled with truth and a loving beauty that can only come from someone who knows. I rarely (almost never) hit share for Facebook, but feel your post might offer comfort, peace, and understanding to someone out there.

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  4. This is an excellent post, Suz. You did a very good job. One thing that happened to me when my brother committed suicide was that the shock threw my body out of whack and I had a perpetual headache and stomach ache. I found my way to Deepak Chopra’s book called Perfect Health. I figured out my Dosha and ate the foods for that and my stomach ache and headache went away. I also did his full morning routine every day for a few months, drinking warm water, warm sesame seed oil massage followed by a warm shower, greeting-the-sun yoga sequence, self massage, short meditation. It took some time before work, but I got it down to a half hour and it helped to stabilize me and make feel grounded and calm. I didn’t think I could feel happiness again, but I was determined to carry on. Eventually I have found that I can feel happiness again. I wrote a blog post about that, about a little less than 2 years later. I don’t say very much because I’m not articulate like you are on this topic, but it’s my little contribution. http://niasimoneauthor.com/2013/01/10/love-abides-as-soon-as-theres-light-i-go-outside-and-other-words-to-live-by-skiing-squaw-valley/

    I applaud you for your courage and your excellent words to help suicide survivors seeking help.

    Love,

    Nia

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    1. ❤ ❤ to you Nia.
      Thank you for the book recommendation. I actually have that book in my massive 'to read' pile that appears to grow larger every day. I shall move it to the top on your recommendation.
      I am so pleased you have found a fellow survivor to call your friend. I think that having someone who understands your feelings makes an incredible difference to your recovery. Hugs to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. XXOO

        Eric Maisel’s book is deep and thorough. He carefully points out that medications are life savers and so is therapy. Believe me, I know what you are talking about with the dangerous nature of what I call the D, I’ve had a bit of the really bad level myself years ago, and I have friends who are ill with it. I know the struggle is exactly as you describe, with the black cloud, and the worst, the lies, but what’s nice about Eric’s book is that he talks about the special case of depression and creative people. I found it very helpful to me for the depression that can be caused by triggers that turn out to be universal to creative people. Just knowing those triggers are universal for creative people was an eye opener. I highlighted so many passages, which I go over daily.

        My brother’s friends were a gift to me during that time, and I stay in touch with them. I found that I don’t want to talk to anyone who didn’t know my brother. Because individuality gets lost in general stigmas and stereotypes. The situation is really not something I discuss, but I do find the topic of suicide survivor to be something I can try to make a contribution to. It is a specific and terrible wound. Thankfully there are excellent online resources and you have added to that body of knowledge with your brilliant post. My only contribution that I can offer is that at the time I thought I would never feel better, but I do feel better now, and also that method I found that seemed to balance my body and mind through physically soothing routines, because no amount of thinking helped. Thinking gave me a chronic headache.

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        1. You know since writing this, I have heard of three other suicides. I find it all so tragic.
          Thanks for your input Nia. It is now out there on the blog and is available for everyone to read. I hope that your words help someone also.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Nia, I must say that these were not people who were well known to me personally however I know of them from FB feeds etc. I just find it so incredibly sad that a person sees no other way out.

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              1. It scares me, Suz, it’s hard to reach people when they are in that state. But I’m trying. I try to remember just to be a good friend, as best as we can be, and if we do that then we are doing good.

                It is incredibly sad. It is terrible for the victim and for their loved ones. The act inflicts lasting pain on everyone who cares about them.

                Liked by 1 person

  5. It must have taken great courage for you to write this, having suffered the disease, and had those close to you suffer as well. It fits with my own grieving for someone who lived the entirety of their natural life, but always under a cloud of extreme sensitivity and often depressed negativity. He was never diagnosed, but the ugly vibes he often experienced spread to the rest of us like the plague. Mental illness is horrible. I can tell you are fighting the good fight, Suz. Best to you and your family. xx

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    1. Thank you.
      I am sorry that you had someone in your life that suffered in that way. Yes, it affects so many people and not just the sufferer themselves. Thankfully with medication and life changes, the disease can be managed but it is hard work.

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    1. I am so terribly, terribly sorry that you have been through this. Please accept my virtual hugs.
      Grief is such an individual thing and it is hard to cope with at times but I am so pleased that your friends are supportive. Many, many blessings to you at this time.

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