The International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is the one day a year when people affected by suicide loss come together in their communities to share their personal stories of loss, hope, and healing. Cities all over the United States hold events to discuss these stories and show a different documentary each year portraying the different kind of survivors all over the world.For many of us survivors, the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is the first time we begin to feel we’re not alone. For me, it was exactly that. In 2012, I watched the International Survivors of Suicide Loss webcast alone in my living room. Alone though was just a physical description because on the inside, I was anything but.
My family has dealt with many losses over the years, but the hardest was the suicide of my mother’s younger brother Joel Gladney on September 30, 2011. Jaay, as we called him, was only nineteen and only three years older than me when he passed. My family and I have always dealt with his death separately, each of us grieving and healing in our own way. When we did mention Jaay, it was brief and we were quick to change the subject. In order to keep my family safe and make sure they weren’t hurt anymore, I tried to deal wtih Jaay’s death all on my own. For months, I didn’t even cry. I pretended nothing happened while my grades fell, I lost friends, and I began to care less about my future.
My life was spiralling until one morning I decide to do something. Instead of forgetting Jaay’s life and moving on as though nothing happened, I wanted to make a difference. Jaay was already gone and no forgetting or crying or prayers would ever bring him back. I asked myself, “What about people at risk of suicide who are still alive? What can I do to help them? How can I bring awareness to suicide?” That has been my passion for three years now and it won’t stop anytime soon.
I am healing from Jaay’s suicide by honoring his life and taking action to help and educate. I use the present tense of heal because I know it is a process that will never stop. His death is something I will never get over. My mother, my grandparents, and his friends are all healing in their own way, because there is no way correct way to do so.
It is hard to define ways to cope with a loss of someone you loved to suicide. No one way is the “right” way. I want to end this post with some steps that have helped me and my family.
Stay in touch
Turn to your support networks. Your loved ones and other organizations are there to support you or connect you with resources that can help. They are there to help you heal and find happiness again.
Grieve In Your Own Way
Remember, there is no one “right” way to grieve. Everyone has their own way of going about their healing. Keep these two things in mind, try to keep it positive and remember you’re never alone.
Be Prepared For Painful Reminders And Setbacks
There will be days when you hear a song or smell a scent and the memories (the good and the bad) will all come flooding back. You’ll forget your progress so far and feel as though you’ll never truly get over it. The truth is, you never will, but you find the pain is less excessive with each day. You find a way to deal with it all without forgetting the beautiful life they lived. You find peace.