WHY is grieving a suicide so complicated? WHY is it so difficult to move on after losing a loved one to suicide? WHY does it shatter your world? Yes, I meant to capitalize every single letter in the word WHY. Why? Because, the questions we have, the desire to fill in the blanks, the need to complete the puzzle, often prohibit us from moving forward in the aftermath of suicide as we constantly ask ourselves, “WHY did our loved one end their life?”
I do not know a single person who is comfortable with the unknown. Uncertainty is unsettling. It is human nature to have difficulty accepting what we do not understand. We need answers. We need to understand. This desire to understand begins early in life, as children drive their parents crazy constantly asking, “why?” Our need to understand helps us learn, helps us make decisions, helps us move forward. When we are unable to understand, we often become stuck. This constant search for meaning in the aftermath of a suicide impacts our ability to grieve and our ability to move forward.
After I lost my father, I remember playing the part of a detective with my sister. We searched every inch of his house sure that we would find something that would help us understand why he left this world. We went through his books, reading what he had highlighted. We went through his day planner, reading every last note that he wrote to himself. We searched his emails and went through the history on his computer. We met with his therapist, his friends, and talked to the neighbors. We went through his medicine cabinet, his drawers, and even the pockets of his clothing. I wish I could say that we found something; but we didn’t. I was stuck in the unknown, trying to make sense of something that I simply did not understand.
If you are reading this post, than I am assuming that you have been touched by suicide. Maybe you are even feeling stuck right now, questioning how you will be able to move forward when every ounce of time and energy is being spent in the past as you try to make sense of the unknown. Last week, a woman who recently lost her mother asked, “Does it get easier?” I sat for quite sometime trying to think of a honest answer to her question. I could have given her the standard, “Time heals all wounds” line, but its more complicated than that, and takes more work. We all have to find our own way. How I have mourned the loss of my father is not the only way or the right way. I had to do what was best for me, in order to become unstuck and move forward. I still do not have the answers that I was searching for in the days following my father’s death. I still do not have an answer to the infamous WHY. Unfortunately, I will never have that answer, because the only person who holds that last puzzle piece is my dad. That is what I have had to accept.
Through my own experiences, I have found that spending time trying to figure out WHY only brought me more hurt, anger, and shame. But, trying to make sense of it all was something I had to do in order to move forward. It was part of my grief process. Grief in the aftermath of suicide is complicated. There is no right or wrong. We need to do what is best for us in order to move forward. After you read this, I challenge you to go do something that brings you joy. I would love to hear what you did and how it impacted your day. Feel free to comment on this post, or email me directly at OurSideofSuicide@gmail.com.