We Face A “Bigger” Grieving Process!
Survivors of suicide, those who grieve a suicide death, experience many explosive emotions in the aftermath of their loss. Our grieving is complicated by the nature of the death (which was volitional), the history of the relationship with the victim (which was often stormy), and the survivor’s ability to grieve the losses of life (which is sometimes impaired). We spend a season in the protective fog of shock before we face inevitable, but overwhelming and immobilizing, blasts of anger, guilt, shame, and emotional pain (sadness and tears). Whether we reach the final phase of the grieving process – acceptance of our circumstance and restoration to a life of stewardship and joy – will depend on our ability to feel these God-given emotions, share them with other safe people in order to diminish their power over us, and ultimately to release the strangle-hold they have on our lives.
Doing the “Right Thing” Doesn’t Feel Like It To Me!
Some of us have had to make difficult decisions in our relationship with a loved one who sometimes (often ?) refused to make their own healthy adult decisions. The final poor choice they made was to end their life rather than effect mature changes in their lives or face the consequences of our “tough love” actions. In short, we stopped enabling their self-destructive behavior and they chose literal and ultimate self-destruction – they committed suicide. Our “tough love” had a shattering impact and feels like a very poor decision on our part. So we ask ourselves yet another tough question that survivors face. Would we rather have had self-protective boundaries and experience a suicide loss, or remain in our dysfunction and, hopefully, keep our loved one alive, in whatever their condition. The answer to this one is very illusive, and moot, because we, unfortunately, don’t have the option to put our lives on instant replay and try again. In our case we don’t get a second chance to change the outcome. What we can do is choose our reaction to the outcome.
I Will Exchange My Guilt for Grace!
I will need to experience my guilt for a season, and I will want to sift through it to find the truth and the lies about my responsibility for my son’s suicide. When I have done that for a sufficient period of time (which is unique to my process) I will take the forgiveness road – which, in my opinion, is inherent in the final acceptance phase of grieving. At the foot of the cross I will confess my guilty feelings, commit to repentance of my guilty actions, and exchange them for the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ. I will stop blaming myself and others, cancel their (and my) debt, and continue on the path of freedom and recovery.
Linda L. Flatt ~ June 1997