A teen committed suicide in my town this past week. Now his friends and family have to deal with a myriad of emotions. Here's some hope for survivors...
• You may be experiencing a complicated grief by dealing with both love and anger towards the person and the stigma of suicide. You may also be falling into the unhealthy guilt game (“If only I did….”). We’re accountable for our choices only.
• Pain is universal and unique; we all grieve in our own time and fashion. Don’t listen to anyone who disapprovingly tells you to “be strong” or “get over it.” Eventually you’ll begin to feel the pain less frequently.
• Your church is a safe place to struggle openly, a place where you’ll receive non-judgmental, non-critical support among friends.
• You may be trying to attach blame in an effort to resolve the unknown “whys”, especially when there are few clues as to why your loved one chose a desperate, permanent, unnecessary solution.
• You could be struggling with “role hiatus;” in other words, who will fill the shoes and assume your loved one’s functions. You may feel unable to deal with personal effects. You don’t have to do anything right away.
• You need to be able to express your sorrow uncensored; tears are healthy, appropriate, and necessary for healing and talking is therapeutic…sometimes people grieve with what seems like inappropriate laughter, withdrawal, or uncharacteristic anger.
• Survivors often feel that they should not show their grief due to the social stigma of suicide; you may need encouragement to grieve.
• You may take on heightened activity as a substitute for grief. Some people channel their pain into positive activities, like supporting suicide prevention organizations.
• You likely will have some unresolved issues & unfinished business.
• Consider journaling, or writing a letter to the deceased, or join a grief support group.
• The bottom-line is: “No good thing has happened here…but we can rely on God’s grace.” Your goal is not to forget the pain of the past but to move on to the business of living.
• We’re not limited to human resources. Jesus gave His followers this promise: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid....Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
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