Moving Through Grief and back into the Giggle
Earlier this year I posted some questions to my fellow survivors of suicide in an effort to better understand the grieving process and to gain tips and insight about moving through grief and hopefully, back into the Giggle.
No one dodges loss in life completely but we can overcome the pain and learn to embrace the beauty life has to offer us.
Just last night at our SOS (survivors of suicide loss meeting at Supporting Kidds), we took time to share the happy and fun memories of our loved ones – special thanks to “D” for the 7 fishes story, to “K” and “P” for the hair story, “P” for the toilet paper story and “S” for the singing video!
From Surviving to Thriving
In all honesty, I am not a big fan of the word “survivor”. Jim’s death was a transformational event in my life, yes, but I do not define myself by that loss. I prefer to think of myself now as a “thriver” and so does my friend, Kelli Karlton. The motto of our SOS group is “From Surviving to Thriving”!
E-Race the Stigma
As much as I have moved on from the trauma of his suicide, it is still very important to me to discuss topics relating to mental illness and suicide and support people in need. I can’t erase mental illness from the planet but I believe I have the power to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
If you would like to help me, please join me on October 25th for the E-Racing the Blues walk or make a donation to Team Giggle On.
The 4th part of my Survivor Q & A Session is with my new friend, Erica Volkman (pictured left). Erica lost her best friend who was like a brother, Anthony “Anth” Duffie to suicide on August 31, 2007.
Quote from the Anthony Duffie Memorial site:
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight. – Quote by Kahlil Gibran
My thanks goes to Erica for opening her heart and sharing her experience as a suicide survivor. Sharing helps us heal. Communication raises awareness.
Q & A with Erica Volkman
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?
I have been fortunate that I have not lost anyone besides Anth, who is super close to me and in my day to day life.
I do believe though that the main difference would be guilt. Feeling like you should have been able to do something, or you should have known that your loved one was SO unhappy, etc.
In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again…aka getting your Giggle back? (could be a person, movie, habit, book, yoga, blog, pastor, support group – anything).
Seeing a Therapist and taking her advice. (Luckily I already had one, and she knew a great deal about Anth, so she knew how horrifying the whole experience was for me and what I was going to face, before I even did.)
Becoming more selfish. It sounds bad, but learning to pay attention to my needs and set boundaries instead of catering to everyone else.
Building Positives in my life. This kind of goes with #2. Once I was up for it I planned trips, dinner dates, movies, started projects, etc.
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 understand the question and why someone could feel this way but I really have never felt bad for being happy after Anth’s death. I figure if he is watching me, it would just make him hurt, to see me hurt. Plus, he is the one who bailed. I am the one who should be pissed.
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?
I would say that I know how absolutely horrifying the experience is, and it might feel like you are never going to get through it, but you will, and on your own time. There is not a right amount of time to grieve, every one is different. You would never stop hurting over the loss of your loved one, but it won’t always be so crippling.
What type of resources do you feel survivors of suicide need the most?
The need to talk to other survivors is strong. People that have not lost a loved one to suicide might not understand some of the questions you maybe asking yourself or the different feelings you might be having. It is priceless having someone who you can relate to.
Erica is working on a few web sites related to loss and and suicide survivor’s. Good luck with your projects Erica and Giggle On! sista.