Special Announcement- Now active on Facebook- Grief Waves Young Widow Warriors Suicide Survivors Support Group

Grief Waves has decided to start an online support group called Grief Waves Young Widow Warriors Suicide Support. If this is you please join us!

This group was created as a safe place for Young Widow Warriors who have lost their spouse/significant other to suicide. Loss of a spouse at any age is hard, but adding the layers of unexpectedness and suicide is nearly unbearable. There are many grief support groups out there for Widows but not many deal with the younger adult and suicide as well. This is targeted so that we can get the help and support we need from each other. The group was created to discuss grief, loss, suicide, love, Widow Life, how to cope, therapy, EMDR, life Re-entry, resiliency, acceptance, and how to live and flourish after this loss. Welcome to this safe, kind, and accepting place we can ride the waves of grief together and hold each other up like pieces of driftwood.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/GriefWavesYoungWidowWarriorsSuicideSupport/

 

back-waves-coast

8 Months

Today it has been 8 months since my husband passed away. It feels like he has been gone even longer somehow. I forget so many of our good times and things about him already. The trauma has made it nearly impossible to remember. I was looking at photos and some video too. Hearing his voice and seeing him very happy is so jolting for me compared to the image of finding him. It is almost too painful to bare and I close the album for another day. I am home at my parents this week. I took several much-needed days off to try to relax and refuel. My happiness is seeing my family and old friends. I am quieter, more reserved, more reflective. I am probably not as much fun as I was but this is me at 8 months.

I feel like I have not been blogging about the suicide aspect as much as I should be. Suicide is getting a lot of attention these days in light of the show 13 Reasons Why. I am not one to watch the show. It is too much for me. However, I see both sides of the argument here. Some feel it glorifies suicide. Some feel it brings the issue of mental health, depression, and suicide out from behind the dark curtains of stigma and shame. I do think however it has brought the topic into many more people’s homes regardless of the show.

I see more people getting semi colon tattoos. Sharing their pain, stories, feelings about mental health. Maybe I see more because I have been through the tragedy of losing my husband this way. Maybe it is the positive side of social media, the connection we feel to our friends when we post our every thought and feeling. I think it is amazingly strong that people talk about their lives with honesty, share their good and bad moments, and provide us a window into their lives. Especially when the topic is depression, anxiety, mental health, medicine they take, suicidal thoughts, etc. For every person who opens up I believe we erase stigma more and more. I believe we have a chance at helping someone else who needs to be heard.

This is a great article and story about Oxford High Students and their approach to showing 13 Reasons Why NOT. Very impressive. I hope more schools will do this.

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20170504/oxford-high-school-students-begin-project-called-13-reasons-why-not

As I sit here at the 8 month mark I still have not decided what my role could or would be in terms of suicide prevention. I want to help people by sharing his story. When I look backwards with the knowledge of his death by suicide I can now see things that went on for years and some things that went on the days or weeks before. Maybe this can be my contribution. Maybe something I put here will make you consider if your family member is suffering from depression, suicidal or dark thoughts. Maybe they will get the help they need. It is very hard to write them down but I hope they will help someone. I am sure I will continue to edit and add to this list.

  • nap taker which could last hours
  • often complained of headaches
  • insomnia and sleep issues
  • a general look of not listening/disinterest
  • gave away something to a stranger I thought was odd
  • found out after he passed that he bought a large gift for a family member and did not tell me about it
  • pulled away from me and often did not get the phone
  • stopped joining me for activities
  • carried his gun around more than ever
  • seemed to be nervous about things in the world, paranoia?
  • strange statements out of the blue
  • watching dark movies that upset me and would not change them
  • not affectionate or loving toward me
  • out of the blue planned a party of friends to come over the night before I had a huge business trip
  • clutter and stuff started to bother him
  • never made decisions or stated his opinions (learned behavior to survive his childhood he said)
  • anxiety for things like finding new job, interviewing, change
  • took many things personally that others would brush off
  • never able to forget a perceived slight or actual slight
  • a feeling he was not good enough (“you need a husband who goes out more”, “all I am good for and do is get you food”
  • he never let me in fully, he did not tell me things or open up
  • he saw I shared my heart, thoughts, and feelings with him and sometimes he seemed angry at me for being able to
  • an overall dark cloud that turned into a huge impenetrable boulder that slept between us and followed us around
  • finding pills after he passed that I believe was Trazadone (not prescribed to him and not used correctly is my guess) **** See withdrawal symptoms of Trazadone (dark thoughts and suicide)!
  • quick to anger, quick to upset
  • a feeling of walking on egg shells with him constantly
  • often took everything I said wrong and got angry or upset

 

With help suicide is preventable. But like with anything (addiction, mental illness, life) the person needs to want help and be honest about their feelings and suffering. When we are not aware we cannot be supportive. I hope that suicide continues to be talked about. Because as we remove stigma people will fee safer to discuss the topic and feel less shame in communicating their feelings.

A good description of Suicide from the website Project Semicolon

https://projectsemicolon.com

  • People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.
  • Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end his/her life. Factors such as loss, addictions, childhood trauma or other forms of trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.
  • Suicide is the result of actions taken to deal with intolerable mental anguish and pain, fear or despair that overwhelms an individual’s value for living and hope in life.
  • While there is a well-established link between suicide and depression, each suicide occurs in a unique mix of complex interconnected factors, individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational).

Grief Connections

Thank you to Ashley Kratz. She is walking in a Suicide Awareness walk on June 17, 2017 in DC. They gave her the shirt for registering. She came to on an online Grief Group (Option B: Coping with grief) and asked for names of other loved people who we have lost to suicide. I offered my husbands name. This is the first public display of his suicide. It was intense to see his name listed there. I do not know Ashley but I am so blessed for her to do this kindness to a bunch of strangers.

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The Blame Game

The blaming myself for missing things, the blaming myself for not being a spouse he could go to and confide in, the blaming myself for not being sensitive enough, the blaming myself for being the reason he killed himself…. oh it started almost immediately. You can probably see in the first months letters how confused and unsure I was and 7 months in I fall back to this every so often.

The blame game stops your progress, it does not bring him back, it creates more pain and suffering. The guilt is inevitable in grief and loss and certainly even more so in suicide loss. It is part of the unfortunate journey that you have to take.

When you have no answers and it feels like the carpet was ripped from under the soles of your feet you have nothing to tell you not to blame yourself. When you are in such SHOCK and DISBELIEF all you do is BLAME yourself. Guilt piles on and weighs you down and will pull you into a dark place if you let it fester and take hold.

Continue to speak to positive people and surround yourself with love. Get therapy to help you with the images, words spoken, and words not spoken. Forgive yourself for not knowing something that this person hid so well from you.

People will tell you that depression and suicide is not your fault and they will be correct in saying so. I started to read books on both topics in the December timeframe to try to understand more about these areas. I was by no means an expert on the subject matter but I quickly read a lot to try to put myself in my husband’s shoes. A man with so many good things (job, car, home, fur kids, wife, love, a bright future, young, healthy) took his life one night while his wife was not in the home. He ended our relationship without a word, note, or goodbye. So blame and guilt took over for a good while. Every book I read said that suicide and depression is never about one thing, it is usually things building over time and not being handled, and it is often that the person who completes suicide did not even consider those around them and how it would make them feel. They simply feel the world would be better off without them in it.

This is a process that you will go through for the time it takes and no one can rush it. It is part of your new reality and another large wave that you will surf over and over.

Oct. 23rd 12:30AM

Reliving this moment is not going to be something I go to a lot anymore almost 7 months later. It is critical that I tell the story once so you can understand what brought me to surfing grief waves.

It was a normal busy week filled with work, business trips, meetings, etc.
We had just moved into our dream house. He had a new position he was very excited about. My flight was a little delayed and the bags simply would not come. Saturday evening turned into Sunday morning, as I excitedly drove him to see my husband and fur kids waiting for my arrival. The entire day I had tried to reach my husband on the phone sending calls, texts, and pics. He was not the biggest fan of the phone and often left it in the car or did not hear it. Nothing of concern just a normal day for me.
HAPPY

I came into the driveway the house was pitch black with no lights on outside either. I thought this was odd being that I was coming in so late at night/early in the morning. I quickly got my things from the car and unlocked the door announcing happily “Honey, I’m home!”. SILENCE, Dogs barking excitedly outside at this hours… strange… screen porch door propped open… strange. Cell phone on the counter. Next came 30 minutes of blind panic, running through the house yelling his name. As each moment passed the fear became more real, the worry escalated, I was certain someone took him. His keys, car, and wallet were placed in their proper places. I raced inside and outside looking and screaming. PANIC and FEAR

After 30 minutes I entered a very dark attic that I thought to enter at the last moment. What I saw I will not describe to you because I feel like it is a trigger for others with PTSD and Trauma. Suffice it to say my husband had taken his own life. I did not realize at first what I was seeing… my body left me and something grabbed hold of me to propel me forward. I was screaming what are you doing in here this isn’t a funny Halloween joke. And then I touched his hand and I knew. My heart stopped, my life changed, my love was gone.
HORROR and LOSS

The rest of the early morning had me giving directions to lost first responders while trying to keep myself from sinking deeper into the floor and the corner that I was now melting into. I answered questions, wrote out a report, and immediately was asked to give them a funeral home. I am 35 alone with no family in the state he was my family. Funeral homes are not something I am aware of. The police needing to take care of business while my entire world had crumbled to the ground was very difficult to understand. Thankfully by then we had woken a dear friend and she came to sit with me and helped.
I just wanted to turn back the time and it not be true. It was not true was it?
SHOCK and BARGAINING

Recounting this to you here has me crying very badly but I am no longer paralyzed by fear and panic when I retell the story.
EMDR and THERAPY