At first, I hated the term Survivor of Suicide Loss. I didn’t want to be put in a group purely because of the way my Dad died. I was resistant to the term, the experience, but soon realized I had no choice. I have walked through dark moments because of my dad’s choices, and I have survived those moments. To the survivor of suicide loss, to my self one year ago, I would say-
You will think about your dad and his death more than ever, but you will become stronger.
You will put your daughter to sleep in her room at the same time every night, the room where when the light hits a certain way, you remember the exact night you got the phone call. Your husband will step in, and he will help you carry this. You’re not alone.
You and your sister will plan how, at 21 and 27, to best honor your dad from 800 miles away. You will grow closer than ever, checking in on each other every day.
You have seen how short and fragile life is, and you will choose to truly start living.
You will think you are all alone, but you will find a support group who welcomes you with a hug when you walk through the door crying, unable to introduce yourself. You’ll find a group who knows exactly how it feels to have their loved ones judged because they were in such a dark, sorrowful point at the end of their lives.
You will not understand how God could let this happen to you, you will distance yourself from Him, but you will ultimately choose to keep leaning on Him. You will truly feel what hope is, and will lean on God simply for sustenance- “God please help me to just get through today, to just survive”- and he will always give you more.
You will be more empathetic to others than ever before.
You will celebrate your Dad on his birthday and have an absolutely memorable, peaceful day.
You will begin writing again, just like your Dad always wanted you to.
You will see that material things don’t matter, and cannot fill the void your father left.
You will see people as they truly are, and love them better than you ever thought you did before, even when it’s hard, even when others think they don’t deserve it.
You will take care of your own mental health, even though you have seen how easy it is to get comfortable with the familiar pain and grief. You will see that, though not always easier, fighting for joy is better.
You will wake up and want to do things again. It will take a long while. It’s ok to wake up and make sure you “just” eat every day, or “just” get dressed, or the baby is “just” taken care of. You are surviving.
You will cry more than your body can handle, but you will eventually smile at first reaction, when thinking of your Dad.
You thought you were alone at the beginning of this road- let me tell you you’re not. You are not alone. You will find your people, and they will carry you. Let others cast their judgement, that is not for you to carry. You will make it. keep your head above water, you’ve got this.