Jayla Boire lost her mother to suicide in 1993. Her Survivor Q & A is the second in our series.
How was grieving the loss of your loved one by suicide different (if at all) from the loss of another loved one who did not die by suicide?
The grieving is different for losses connected to suicide because it is punctuated by trauma responses. I know that grief is never “linear”; however, I remember feeling overwhelming and mind numbing confusion that seemed to last longer than that I’ve associated with typical losses.
There’s a consistent return of angst about “explaining” the suicide, which only adds depth to the feeling that your mind is numb because you can’t find the answers that you so crave. It’s a sort of circular thinking about why this person you cared for chose this action, and all the associated analysis of what YOU could have done to keep that from happening (nothing, you learn later), and why you didn’t see the “signs” of their hopelessness. So one difference is this sense of personal responsibility.
In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again? (could be a person, movie, habit, book, yoga, blog, pastor, support group – anything).
I think the largest influence on recovery (for me) was connecting first with others who lost a loved one through suicide, second was being close to my sisters (who made me laugh a lot) and third (and the part that tied it all together) was EMDR, a form of therapy that uses induced REM and is a proven treatment for recovery from post traumatic stress. Also, I had to take really really good care of myself…I didn’t have yoga in my life then but I do now…and I read a lot.
I don’t know that anything moves you faster into a normal healthy sense of the world’s possibilities, but these things gave me my full life back; a fuller life experience. Somehow the suicide narrowed my world view and pulled me “in” to my mother’s hopelessness; these three things helped me “open” out again.
Did you feel guilt for laughing again and enjoying life after your loved one’s death? Meaning, did you feel you were not honoring their memory because you moved past intense grief?
No, I didn’t feel guilty about moving into a fuller life experience. I still hold my mother’s memory dear to my heart, only now I cherish the wonder of all she sustained and held on to for so long before she gave in to her hopelessness.
When she was good, she was very good; happy, funny, full of sarcastic humor and So, when I feel good and happy I think I’m showing her the best of me…and her influence on me. Guilt really never entered into my experience of recovery.
For those of you past the 12 month mark of a loved one’s suicide, what advice would you give to someone who has recently lost someone to suicide?
Go slowly through the feelings and don’t judge them (for example, don’t feel bad about intensely negative feelings about the person you’re grieving). Find at least one trusted loved one in your life who can hold you close no matter what you say or feel…and not judge you for it, a good listener is important (you won’t need anyone’s opinion). Then find a an experienced professional person who will have an opinion about your relative health as you recover, a professional or a group who can monitor your emergence from and movement past the event.
What type of resources do you feel survivors of suicide need the most?
Any resources that reinforce your sense of self as fully alive (get the people around you to help you get up and out to do healthy things or things you enjoy, be completely with people you love and are present here in this life.
Find resources that allow you to take lots of breaks, especially if the loved one your grieving is an “immediate” family member. And find the resources that connect you with the spiritual center, whether it’s meditation, your religious community or a simple walk in nature to remember that there’s a greater force at work than the daily activities of all of us “bozos on the bus” of life!
Jayla, thanks for opening up to share your story with other survivor’s. Jayla survived her mom’s suicide and now, she thrives! *clap, clap, clap*
Next up in Survivor’s Q & A: Erica Volkman.
If YOU would like to participate in the Survivor Q & A, contact me for details.
Upcoming: I am working on a book, an e-book, with the working title: “Suicide Sucks”. Apropos. In this book I provide some tips for survivor’s and friends of survivor’s.
Coolness: A few days ago, my friend Christian Ready helped me decide which type of video camera to purchase. I am Miss Video-Pants now and can’t wait to post my first video here soon. Stay tuned! Christian also made a cool Sprout widget at my site. Try to find it!
Events: We’re less than 2 weeks away from the Giggle On! MS Walk for my friend Kathy on 4/18/09. Kathy was recently in the Giggle On! Spotlight. If you live in the Wilmington area, and want to join us, please CLICK HERE to register. If you care to make a donation to MS in Kathy’s name, we would appreciate that too. CLICK HERE