Hello, my name is Anne. in 2006 my husband of 9 years died of pancreatic cancer. I was 40 and a widow with three kids. The outpouring of love and support was amazing. Two years later I remarried. On January 5 my husband took his life. This time around it seems as though people want to ignore my husbands passing. Many people don't even want to make eye contact. Now, don't get me wrong I still am getting love and support but I see a marked difference in how acquaintances  are reacting. Is this just me or has anyone else experienced this? 

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It has been almost six months since my brother died and it still seems like that. Once people know what happened they dont want to talk to me or just change the subject all together. It does get better but talking to some one who really understands what your going through helps.
I agree with you. Ppl act weird like because it was a decision made it should hurt less. But if they were smart they'd know it hurts more. Knowing someone you love was quietly in pain. I guess it's a part of the stigma attached to it.

It’s been 13 months since my son took his life. We did lose a good amount of friends since his passing. I’ve been told it’s because they just don’t know what to say. I’ve have learned from talking to other survivors and a few friends I still have that it’s not  that people are ashamed to talked to us it’s because it’s such a shocking devastating death that unless it has happen to you those people could only imagine what we are going through and how our pain is different. So avoiding you in some cases is just because they are so scared of saying the wrong thing and upsetting you more. We did get a few friends back when we told them it’s ok to say hi to us. We still know how to say hi back. Being shunned by your friends & family during such a devastating time for you is so painful. My heart and prayers are with you.

Thank you Carin, Tamika, and Jennifer. I was wondering if I was just going crazy. I honestly do feel like I am going crazy sometimes, but that is just a part of my sorrow and grief. I really am starting to feel alone. The silence is awful. One co-worker just walked up to me, gave me a hug and walked off. That meant the world to me after all the people just ignoring me. 

anne
Anne, I know what you're going through. And I agree with Carin, Tamika, & Jennifer--suicide is yet a stigma in our culture and people do not know what is ok to say or not say to you after. So most people opt for the path of least resistance and say nothing. And, since they aren't going thru this grief process they do not have any reason to realize their lack of words/actions can feel like abandonment when we need others' support most.

It's important, I think, to just offer an honest 'thank you' to those who did what your co-worker did for you. It can be hard to hold back the sorrow when someone reaches out like that, but maybe we shouldn't hold back too much, either, where others are giving like that. Find a time to thank her honestly and directly if you haven't already. Show her (back) how much that meant to you. It feels good.

I was at a get-together with friends a month ago and met an acquaintance-friend there I hardly knew who hugged me and asked me how I was doing. Same words as other friends have done (since my dad's death followed by brother's suicide) but with one BIG difference: There was such feeling and empathy in her face. It even looked like she had teary eyes suddenly. It prompted me for the 1st time to admit to someone that it was 'really hard.' But it felt so warm to me, and our little interaction made me feel that, despite talkin/hangin w friends since, for the first time in months I was able to crawl out of a hole and just 'be' there, pain and all. I think that friend saw my tears in my eyes, too, even if I hid them.

But I think I should reach out to her and thank her for that moment. I will.

G
La-Greg, I too lost my mother from a heart attack then my son to suicide within a yr. Of each other when my mother past I thought there was no greater pain. Then not only did my son take his own life but I was the one to find my son. So much grief, gilt, pain and life altering trauma in the loss of a loved one to suicide. I was easily comforted by others over the loss of my mother. When my son pass at his funeral people did try to say things to me to comfort me but u was in a different state of mind that I don't think I really heard what anyone said to me. It took about three months after my sons death when I realized I was being treated different by friends and his as well. I did in time realized that for the most part people are so afraid to do or say anything to upset you more then you are so avoiding a survivor of suicide is what they do. I tell people if they ask how my son died that he took his life sometimes they ask questions and I answer them as well. I feel like I'm spreading awareness one person at a time. My heart and prayers go out to all who have lost a loved one to suicide. It has changed my life forever.
Carin, yes spread the word. I spoke at my brother's eulogy at his hospital. Many people and hospital staff were there (he was a pediatrician). Tho everyone shares the usual good memories, I had to say something about his inner war he fought, in my attempt to bring out of the shadows the suffering of the chronically depressed, the anxiety-ridden, the suicidal, the mentally disturbed. In the hope people would talk about it more, remove the stigma, have a more open compassion for these sufferers, as there are so many.

After I spoke so many people came up to me, thanking me for sharing that, for not glossing over that like everybody else does. Three different people in a group of about 100 or so told me they'd experienced the loss thru suicide of a loved one. And one woman with tears in her eyes said my brother always reminded her of her son who never returned from fighting in Iraq. I told her maybe it was because in a way they were both warriors, and they both gave their lives in their wars. I hugged her and we cried.

Here's to bringing this huge problem in our modern world into the light of compassion, to break the stigma. My brother, I know, died (took his life) in a big part to hide his pain, because he couldn't bear the guilt & shame he surely felt because of his emotional suffering (generally being a person in control of things. He chose to give up on life as opposed to be seen all vulnerable, suffering out of control. Part of the stigma, I believe is just that: The person loses their sense of self, or value, to admit their helplessness to their misery. They kill themselves to kill their misery and preserve the person they were--the one that had no room for this misery, these messy feelings. I think it's that that makes their misery so extreme, among other things.

So the spreading the word and the sharing of our suffering (that cannot be controlled and must be allowed to run its course) I think is such a good thing. It gives us support, makes us feel less alone in our pain, and, especially, helps to make us see that we're not 'crazy' to be so messed up sometimes in life, even a lot of times. Some of us are extra sensitive, too, and we may live an entire lifetime in desperate denial of that fact...which is akin to denying oneself.

We need to face reality. Our selves. Our histories. And, like we're doing together here, our PRESENT, even when it feels unbearable. Sometimes it is and we need to take a break. Other times we hear a comforting word, connect with another's pain, or just see the look of empathy in another's eyes and it's all we need to bear it right then...and let it flow like it needs to in us.

Take care. You're not alone. And you and I have definitely experienced something very similar. Reach out if you need to.

G

Dear Anne - You are right in the difference of how people react to us - the survivors of suicide. I don't think it is intentional or meant to be hurtful, but 1) they don't know how to act around just overwhelming pain, 2) the are afraid of bringing up our loved one - as though it would cause us more pain; for me it is just the opposite if some remembers Michael or talks about him to me - too many people act as though he didn't exist, and 3) they are very afraid of the same thing happening to them.  It is because depression is not thought of as a disease just like cancer - which it is - and sometimes it kills - just like cancer or a heart attack. Until people start understanding depression and sometimes its end -  we will continue to have to deal with we this type of reaction. Our son is gone just over three years and it hurst as much as day one and it hurts as much now when people act that way. But please know there are many of us who understand completely what you are going through and prayer for you.

Carla

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