Suicide Survivor Series: Part 6
In March 2009 I started a Q & A series to bring awareness and healing to those who lost a loved one to suicide. With a 5 question and answer format my goal was simple: provide hope, guidance and comfort to recent survivors of suicide looking for answers after loss.
The 6th installment of this series features Laura Velez, a survivor of her husband’s suicide. He died June 21, 2008. To read the first 5 installments, scroll to the bottom of this post and look for “Giggle On Survivor of Suicide Q &A Series”
In addition to helping ” brand new” survivors who often come to me for direction, advice and support, I also intended to provide a healing space for survivors like Laura to share their experience in a warm and loving environment.
Laura Pokes Me
Laura and I stay connected on Facebook, often sharing stories about our dogs and “poking” each other to show each other we care in a playful way. Truth be known, Laura is the only person I let “poke” me on Facebook. To any of your poker-wanna-be’s, don’t even try poking me…unless you’re taking me out on a date first! GMAO (translation: Giggling My Ass Off)
Please welcome Laura Velez to the Giggle On survivor community.
1. How was grieving the loss of your loved one by suicide different (if at all) from grieving the loss of other loved ones who did not die by suicide?
The grief of losing my husband Muhammad to suicide is hard to describe in words. There is not only the pain of loss but the questions of “What if?” and “If only I …” Also some friends and family members could not deal with his “suicide” and my first year of intense grief which followed. This is why I feel that suicide should be talked about more openly in a public forum, in order to bring light and understanding to all aspects of surviving suicide.
2. In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again?
1) My dog Lily was always there to bring a smile to my face as she was always her constant “silly self.”
2) Talking about my husband to those who knew him and focusing on his life and all the characteristics that made his special, really helped me.
3) My cousin Cynthia who dragged me out of the house and was always there for me with an open ear and heart and some quick witted humor!
3. 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?
I did feel especially guilty the first year, about laughing and enjoying life. However, as I move though different phases of grief, I realize that he would want me to live and laugh again and I am much better at doing so now, two and 1/2 years later.
4. 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?
1) Surround yourself with those few people who will allow you to express your grief openly and freely.
2) Be gentle and patient with yourself.
3) If you don’t have a dog to snuggle with, seriously consider adopting one. Unconditional, non-judgmental love is very important during this period of grief.
4) Read books on surviving suicide, join support groups online or in person.
5) Express yourself to your lost loved one, whether it be through talking aloud, painting, playing music etc.
5. What type of resources do you feel survivor’s of suicide need the most?
Survivors of suicide need patient, understanding, supportive people around them. Support groups, hot line phone numbers, therapy and other beneficial, mental and emotional support paths are crucial in helping you get through the first 12 months.
If you recently lost a loved one to suicide, please accept my most sincere condolences. You may feel lost, scared, depressed and confused, but please know…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Help is available for you.
For Grief and Survivor Resources, please visit our Resources page and scroll to the bottom.
For more posts in the Survivor Series, click the links below. If you would like to be a part of this series, please answer the 5 questions and send a photo of yourself with your loved one. Send your email to christa at giggle on dot com.