Coping With The Suicide Of A Loved One

I don’t know anyone who has not been touched by suicide at some point in their lives which makes it a difficult topic to approach.  I still want to try though. I feel it’s incredibly important because people do want to talk about it and this blog has always been an safe place for people to express their views and share their feelings.

I am sorry to report that one of the regulars here lost her father to suicide last week. This got me thinking on this topic though I think about it a lot anyway. Also, a few days after this gal’s father died, there was a suicide attempt in my inner circle so you can see how this subject has come to the front for me, yet again.

I figure people’s thoughts about suicide are derived via their personal experience.  This is interesting on it’s face because people routinely form opinions on things when they have no personal experience. On this basis alone, the topic is going to engage people as it hits close to home for most.

Some people have been suicidal, some are suicidal right now.  Suicide is against the religion of some and supported by others who believe in the right to die.  It’s a broad topic that can be approached from numerous angles but what interests me most today is to look at this from the survivor’s perspective.

I have been touched my suicide many times.  I was a teenager the first time someone near me killed themselves and while I dealt with it okay, this gal’s mother never recovered.  I think this is understandable but also regrettable and it had a big impact on me. Basically, I did not (do not) want to lose my life because someone near me chooses to take theirs.

Because of this, I have developed very strong beliefs around suicide and I almost want to suggest others do the same because suicide is on the rise for a number of reasons. Increased incidents means your odds of being impacted are also increased and I just hate the idea of someone blindsided by this to a point where they can’t recover.

I’ve written about this before – Suicidal Baby Boomers, Murder-Suicide As An Exit Strategy, tag – suicide. You can also search “suicide” on the boards but what how people feel about this. Is it gauche that I have braced myself in this way? Is it sensible?  Inspired?

If you were to lose someone close to you via suicide, how would you cope?

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Coping With The Suicide Of A Loved One — 36 Comments

  1. My dad’s brother killed himself. He was a terrible terrible alcoholic and had had mouth cancer.

    There have been layers to the grief and ANGER. First is shock, then you wonder what you could have done personally to have prevented this. Should you have done this, said that.

    Then I was angry for a long time. Then sad. It’s one day at a time then you notice that years have passed. Life goes on even for his four children and the grandchildren that he never got to meet.

    He would have been a fabulous grandfather….too bad for all us he couldn’t set the alcohol down.

  2. First – I do not think it gauche to have braced yourself in this way, Elsa — taboo subjects need to be talked about lest the stronghold from an invisible place where we may not be able to reach a loved one and help them decide to come down off the edge of the ledge of despair.

    Second – No one in my immediate or acquaintance circle has committed suicide, to my knowledge. I’ve had friends who’ve had friends who’ve committed suicide, so my POV is from that of someone who’s seen loved ones suffer bc of their loved ones desire to die.

    Third – That said, while I do think it’s a selfish act, I support the right for anyone to do whatever they want with their own body. As a person who believes that there’s something more powerful than myself in the rhythmic multiverse which guides everything, there are still mysteries that we, as humans, will never be able to grasp, and physical death is one of those things. As I heard from a friend about the parents of their tortured son who had offed himself — they said, “maybe he just wasn’t meant for this world”.

    Fourth – No one I’ve loved has willfully killed themselves, though many loved one have passed. If it were to happen, I don’t know what I’d do except try to live and feel through it.

  3. for me, the loss alone outweighs the means
    This is a delicate subject. But suicide, according to a set of statistics I found this morning, is the number three killer of children between the ages of 15 and 19. This doesn’t mention what it does across the rest of the generations. It is a fact. It is a problem. And people don’t know how to deal with mostly. It’s like talking about politics…it’s that divided sometimes.

    But, I agree with you that it is a force in our lives to be reckoned with.

  4. Hey Elsa, your subhead on this is “Jupiter Trines to my 8th house” — how does that play in? I have some pretty firm thoughts on this subject myself, and an 8th house Jupiter chart ruler.

  5. I never had anyone I knew or know die by committing suicide, but I did come close. 11 years ago my gay friend tried to commit suicide and I saw all the medication and pills he took to kill himself get vomited out of his mouth. I was scared as heck! I called the police and they came as saved him right on time.

    Luckily he came out about his sexuality to me
    (I’m also gay) and he found someone he could confide in and trust. After that he never tried to kill or hurt himself again.

    He was a Sagittarius going through a tough Pluto conjunct Sun transit during the time.

    How would I cope if he have died? I don’t know, I honestly don’t know.

  6. Because my philosophy basically tracks with Hindu astrology, I think suicide is just as fated as any other means of death. I was thinking about that when I read the board thread about the rescue team that had to stand by and watch somebody down themselves. Another person, with another life, another fate — would have gotten a rescue team that wasn’t handcuffed or lucked out some other way.

    People who have mental illnesses so deep and serious that they contemplate and then succeed in ending their lives are no different than people who have type one diabetes. They just aren’t going to have a long lifespan. It might be average, say, or shorter than usual, there might be some good things in the lifetime, but there is this illness, this appointment.

    I think we might have similar philosophies so I can’t say yours is bad. What I don’t get are people who won’t allow a deeply suffering person to die in peace. I am sure — I know for a fact — that there gets to be a point that the will to die becomes as a strong as the will to live, and I believe it’s a human right.

  7. Great post, as I am nowhere near figuring out where I stand on the issue… whether it’s right or wrong to kill oneself.

  8. Funny I don’t even have an opinion on right or wrong about suicide- it does not seem to me a moral issue at all– it’s your soul, your thoughts, you whole internal life that no one has access to- and it’s a decision like any other.
    Your path and no one else’s.

  9. i think it’s the ultimate abdication of responsibility. sometimes the last greatest freedom one has, as well.
    and that, generally the tendency towards responsibility wins out, in my mind.
    but, say, if i had alzheimer’s, and the only way to free myself of the disease..?

    er, uhm… imo type 1 diabetes is only a death sentence if you don’t take care of yourself. same with most mental illnesses. i’ve known diabetics who lived into their late seventies. which is pretty darn reasonable, i think.

  10. i wouldn’t want to let someone else’s choices derail my life. no matter how wounding they are.
    but i’ve never lost someone. several close family members have, and it’s marked them deeply. as any grief would, i’d think.
    i imagine the fact that the person chose it would make it more difficult to deal with, though…

  11. I think it is a good thing to talk about Elsa, difficult but, a good idea. A close friend’s 20 year-old son took his own life, I had gotten the name of a child psychiatrist for him to see, but it was too late. I felt helpless and like there was something I could of done better for him.

    I have also been on the other side of the equation, with my own struggle with depression. I also understand why people would have to distance themselves.

  12. My sister lost her twelve year old son to what she thinks was suicide. There was no note.

    For at least two years, I worried about her as well. There was a big difference in her children’s ages and her daughter was an adult. There was time…so much time she had previously filled with cooking and homework. She looked at me one day and said “The worst thing that could happen to me has happened and I’m still alive”

    I told her then I would understand if she decided to leave the world…but I loved her very much and would miss her terribly. She is a Scorpio and I’m a Taurus. We’re incredibly close, and it goes deep. It almost killed me to say that, but how the hell do you get over something like that? You don’t. You just learn to live around it.

    Perhaps just having the choice and the understanding helped, because she’s still here. Eventually my niece moved, and became pregnant and had a little boy. We all kind of held our breath…my sis kept her distance for awhile. Who could blame her? She was afraid to love, afraid to lose.

    Then she met her grandson after a year, and fell in love. She moved away. And…as far as I know, she’s happy. As happy as she can be with a loss that shattering. I know some of you have lost children and I can’t imagine what kind of courage it takes just to put one foot in front of the other, day after day for years until you come alive again.

    My heart goes out to you. At this time I don’t truly understand, and I’m sure you forgive me if I say that’s one lesson I pray I never learn. Much love to you.

    I was angry for quite awhile. Trying to hold up someone while they search for any reason to live is harrowing. And realizing that his grief, his isolation, his insurmountable problems might have been grown past given time…just hurts. It hurts.

    If you’re thinking about it, please don’t do it. Please don’t. There are things to live for…maybe not right away, but they’ll come as sure as the sun rises. Hold on. Someone cares. I care.

  13. I think some people have it so hard that well, I can’t judge. I have two severely depressed, miserable, unfixable by modern medicine relatives, and I don’t think anyone will be surprised if they succeed at killing themselves someday. I don’t think it’s fair to say, “Look, people love you so you have to stay here for us,” when they are miserable and medical science still has yet to come up with anything that makes a dent in their pain. How much of an asshole would I be to try to force someone like that to stay alive?

    Suicide depends on the situation, though. Trying to kill yourself because of a one time thing might be quite another story, rather than lifelong chronic severe depression.

  14. I agree, Jennifer. Some people have depression that chronic and that bad. Someone close to me tried to commit suicide after years of debilitating depression. He didn’t succeed, and he had a good doc who finally got him on meds that worked. That was 20 years ago and he’s had a good life since, helping other people with depression/bipolar. Sometimes the right treatment can be found, and support from other people who understand.

  15. I have lost a more than a few friends to suicide. It leaves a hole. I coped by talking about it whenever I felt the urge to. Two of them were missing for a month before their bodies were found. Marty’s body was found by a hunter after the spring thaw. His mother had visited me in the maternity ward after I was born. We lost touch with that family. My mother didn’t have the emotional capacity to be a friend to his mother after he died.

    Satrun in 8th–there is usually some kind of “okay, this is it, the jig’s up” feeling for me after the death of a loved one. We all go eventually but you never want someone you love to go like that.

  16. My deepest condolances.
    Years ago my father came very close to ending his life, but with lots of support from me and my grandma and Dr.’s, he came though. Its been several years and he is so much happier. Thank god.
    There is nothing like seeing your big strong daddy, crumple on the floor, helpless in misery.

    My childhood bestfriend passed away to what we think could have been suicide, yet no-one will ever know for sure. That was very painful to go through as well. I miss her a lot.

    When someone looses control of their mind/emotions like that, it really is painful and hard to witness. Because there isn’t a whole lot we as bystanders can do. Its not like we can put a cast on them, help them walk around till it heals. We/they are truly kinda helpless. Thats the hardest part, knowing only there mind can wake them up and save them truly or not and you may loose them if they get the chance. Its nailbiting worrying about them.
    I could never imagine in a million years if my own child did this….can’t say I wouldn’t follow.

  17. I was six when I first thought about suicide – in a loose way, prayed to God to give me cancer so I could go back ‘home’. Have dealt with this urge all my life (Neptune in Scorpio), I’ve had a really rough road and I just get so tired, soul weary. My brother was also the same, but was on meds for it – he couldn’t handle the meds, made him feel like a zombie. I was seriously contemplating it back in 2007 – my brother beat me to it. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one that’s suicidal or a family member has actually done it, people’s reaction to you is the same as soon as you mention the “S” word: they treat you like the plague. Not one of my friends ever called to see if I was doing alright after he died. I had to put my apartment in storage while I went overseas to help his wife – no one helped me move all that stuff. I can’t tell you how many people I know of that got anti-depressants to combat this only to have it made worse and tip them over the edge. I don’t know if it’s that fucking stellium in Scorpio of mine that does it or what, but I do get tired of it. I’ve gone through it so many times I know I just need to hold on and it will pass. I’m a really strong person, overcome shit you wouldn’t believe but this is definitely the hardest when it hits. I do believe our free will includes the option to go back home if we want. I’m content that my brother is at peace, he led a tortured life.

  18. BTW – got Pluto in the 12th for now, Yeehaw. As I look down the road at Uranus coming my way all I hear is “Straightjacket anyone?” In the meantime, we’re doin’ lot’s of digging in there – hopefully we’ll reach gold before I meet up with the Shockmeister.
    And as a sidenote – I’m not as dark as I sound. I’m actually quite inspirational to other people and am often complimented on my positive attitude 😉

  19. The scariest thing about suicide is the rate of children who commit is increasing and at younger and younger ages. Why is this? Maybe there’s too much pressure and I know for a fact we don’t let kids be kids for long anymore. With all the homework, testing, computer use, violent video games, TV, lack of exercise, daycare for babies (extremely traumatic) medication which alters brain function and I could go on and on… Joseph Chilton Pierce talks extensively on this topic. He believes more and more children are under tremendous stress and are depressed because of it.

  20. Pretty freaky that I woke up to the news that Jack Kevorkian died after this discussion…..what were you tapped into Elsa?

  21. I can’t read all these comments, it’s just too daunting. But I did read yours Brizo and I think you must have told that story before, because it sounds familiar.

    Some reading this may remember my story. My dad (my real dad not my step dad) committed suicide in 1991. I was 24, had an 11 month old daughter and was pregnant with my second daughter.

    In 2008 my eldest, the one who was 11 months when my dad died, tried to commit suicide. It was right when pluto went into cap that january, that very night. Spent three days in the hospital with her.

    They were both horrible in their own way. Thankfully my daughter didn’t succeed, but in a way it has been harder to take. I felt like I got a report card from the universe as a parent, and it had a large red F on it. She had tons of therapy, but periodically she would continue to talk about killing herself. She still doesn’t understand why I freak out when I don’t know where she is for extended periods of time. She’s 21 now.

    I think with my dad, I deal with it now by being angry at him and shutting him out. I know things were hard, but a lot of he was the result of many many many poor decisions made over a long period of time. I don’t know… maybe he had an undiagnosed mental illness. That would certainly explain a lot.

  22. Stellium, I’ve told that story before. I’m of two minds talking about it, one the one hand it’s not directly my story. I don’t want to shadow as a sympathy vampire because that’s disgusting.

    On the other hand, it was a direct question, and a subject I feel strongly about, for obvious reasons. It has directly affected my entire family. We are tight. So the guilt we feel is tremendous, we failed to see, we dropped the ball. My step mom can barely talk about it even now.

    If my sister thought even one person would be impacted by one of us speaking up she would want to share the story. My niece started a webpage on a bullying website afterwards and my sister was going to write a chapter for a book but found she couldn’t.

  23. Yes Brizo I thought I had heard the story. I don’t mind you retelling it – I’m sure there are many here who are moved by it, who can resonate.

    Thank you (((Elsa)))

  24. I tried to commit suicide four times, starting when I was 8 years old, so I suspect a lot of my feelings are shaped by that. I don’t see it as a moral issue, or a spiritual peril. I don’t think suicide is good (I am really really grateful, now, that I was saved)but I can also see that sometimes people are in the dark so deep they can see nothing else and they need to bail and start again.

    What is sucide? How do we define self-destruction? Is it a single aggrerssive act, or is it a slow decline through repeated bad choices? If so, then my own father committed suicide through his drinking and lifestyle choices.

    I’ve lost a number of men on my father’s side to suicide. It leaves a lot of anger and remorse and self-doubt in those who are left behind.

    But… I don’t know. I’ve got a Scorpio Moon and death walks with me. Neptune is on the nadir of my chart and loss has undone all my attempts to hold on to those I loved and keep them safe. So I no longer hold on. I just let them go and I pray. So many of my family have died sudden, shocking deaths through things that were not suicide, that I have quit worrying about it.

    Personally, the day I had my first child I vowed that I would not attempt to commit suicide again. I felt that even if I was not the best mother in the world, it was still better for him to have a living imperfect mother than a dead one and I simply would not add my vanishing from the world to whatever griefs life will hand to him.

    I’ve worked with many sucidal teenagers and young people though. I may well have witnessed some people’s final moments. (I used to work providing helpline support to people who had been sexually abused as children. The callers were anonymous and more than once I was phoned by people who said they had taken a fatal overdose and did not wish me to call an ambulance, but simply wanted someone to keep them company while they died. So I would. I stayed on the phone, until the phone went silent. They might have been lying or telling the truth – I have no way of knowing, only that for the duration I responded to it authentically, as though it was real. Since I was absolved of responsibility to try and save them- I had no way of tracing the phonecall- then I could simply be there for them without judgement, to my utmost capacity, and it felt like sacred work.)

    Relatedly, we’ve been discussing writer Terry Pratchett with regards to the assisted suicide debate, with regards to assisted death for those with terminal diseases who wish it.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1247856/Terry-Pratchett-assisted-suicide-Ill-shake-hands-Death.html

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