A Silent Scar
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse …..
That is unless you are bereaved because when the house goes quiet the mind and emotions of those left behind after a loved one died starts to rev up and in these people’s hearts there sits a scar, a scar so deep, so painful, the hurt and the pain sometimes has to be shut out.
Christmas and the lead up to Christmas is one of those times when you will miss your loved one more intensely.
When we have been bereaved we can be physically and emotionally disrupted, our life has been turned upside down as we battle with the thoughts and feelings of numbness and pain we may shake and tremble and feel as if we are not in our body as we become disorientated. We stop sleeping and eating as we are confused and quickly become exhausted by the quickening of the mind and body. Some people can have migraines, headaches and nightmares or feel guilty, shame and shamed and experience flash backs, feel they need to withdraw from the world.
At Christmastime no matter how long, it has been since a loved one died those left behind can re-live all those feelings again ‘as if’ it has just happened there is no gap between then and now.
Add a loved one’s death by suicide and there is always a vacuum left in our heart where our loved one once sat. People who are going through a bereavement whilst not easy can usually share and talk openly with relative and friends, express their feeling in the moment.
This is often not so when a loved one completed suicide because of the fear, the stigma and the judgements people have about the person who died, the spouse or partner and the family as a whole.
When you are bereaved by suicide such a death in its wake leaves behind a silent depth of sorrow, anguish and unreality that can and often does persist especially at this time of year
The vacuum within the heart of the survivor is never really empty however, it is filled with a myriad of thoughts, feelings, sensing's, unanswered questions and excruciating pain which they carry around with them unable to put down for very long.
Eventually the pain will become more manageable and those bereaved can find a little distance between the pain and themselves, the rest seem to continue in differing strength and intensities for years and may not subside but be more managed as time passes
This is known as disenfranchised grief which is a loss and grief which is not or cannot be openly talked about or acknowledged, by the individual griever, personally within ones family or socially so cannot be publicly mourned. This cuts down on the grievers support network and can have a profound long-lasting effect upon the well-being of the grievers.
People bereaved by suicide are left isolated and alone to ‘get on’ with their grief.
YET they too are feeling hollow, alone, lonely and suffering greatly left in a void on their own ….
Suicide in the UK is not against the law of the land yet there is such stigma surrounding death by suicide in society today in our communities, it becomes the elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge or talk about with others, even amongst family members who have lost a loved one in this way. Family members can feel alone and lonely even when in the same room as each other.
For ALL of us what we don't understand is what we fear the most
The language we use blames the person who completed suicide, the usually saying is 'committed' suicide as if this was a criminal offense, the word 'committed' does nothing to help or support those left behind. In fact it has so many negative connotations that it adds to and hinders their healing and recovery.
Sorrow and despair don't go away because it’s Christmas it just highlights what happened - it’s there and always will be!
Suicide is very far from the easy way out for the one bringing their life to a permanent close and neither is it an easy clear-cut decision made.
Sat in an overwhelming darkness which takes over any reason or rhyme, there is no choice to be made, a person is not able to take responsibility for self or what they are about to do in those precise moments; time stands still and we are alone with our thoughts and feelings, all that is seen is a turbulent river of black, dark skewed thoughts, feelings and sensing’s forging us forward, crashing us upon jagged rocks. Sat in this place there is no helping hand one can give self permission to reach for, no lighthouse on the horizon and no life buoy to hold us up; only hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis one can’t seem to get a hold of or find a way through and out; being pulled down by the unknown undercurrent of even more dark and deeper darkness.
NO ONE IS TO BLAME FOR SOMEONE ELSE TAKING THEIR LIFE
NOT THE PEOPLE LEFT BEHIND AND NOT THE ONE COMPLETING SUICIDE BECAUSE TO DO SO IS NEVER SIMPLE OR CLEAR CUT
IT IS A COMPLEX, COMPLICATED AND DIFFICULT ACTION.
Those left behind are faced with a complex and traumatic grieving process which is added to by the lack of understanding and judgments by others and they can become isolated most of the time and especially at this time of year.
When a loved one died at their own hand they didn’t have a mind which could or would think as you or I do and in one sense this is what those outside looking in fear … the unknown!
Their thoughts and subsequently their feelings become so skewed that they believe everyone would be better off without them, feeling they are a burden and they don’t have any sense of belonging and feel hopeless and powerless to change their situation.
This “better off without me” couldn’t be further from the truth.
I read somewhere suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and it quiet possibly is!
That’s just one statement of the desolate knowledge those left behind live with day in and day out for their rest of their lives.
If you have no one to talk with or want to talk to someone other than a relative or friend there will be someone on the other end of the phone at
Samaritans they can be reached on:
116 123 (UK)
116 123 (ROI)
Whatever you're going through, call free any time, from any phone on 116 123.
24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it's best to call on the phone.
This number is FREE to call. You don't have to be suicidal to call.
If you prefer this probably won't be answered immediately
"We live our individual life through our own lens, we create belief's and meaning so the way we live our life runs smooth. Sometimes it goes all awry and we find our self at the bottom of a pit or on a cake walk shook back and forth or stunted still, stuck not moving forwards at all".
"We live our life though our own lens and we choose how to live our own life".
Affirmations are your strongest tools
here's some to try here and now!
I am free to make my own decisions
I can do this
The worst is over
I AM ENOUGH
I am doing the best I can
My best is good enough
I have the choice
I believe in my self
I can smile and laugh
I can enjoy my life
I can handle what life throw at me
I am doing well
So how can YOU support someone at this time of year when they are feeling bereft?
The single and most important thing you can do is reach out to those left behind trying to cope after a loved one completed suicide
Don't leave a bereft person on their own if you can offer them a place at your dinner table - invite them
Don't preach - reach out
Don't judge - nudge them back into the here and now
Don't question what happened or why their loved one completed suicide, those left behind have many unanswered questions
Don’t ignore - explore how the person is doing, even if you just pop in for a coffee or as you pass pop your head in and say hello
Do change the language you use from 'committed' to 'Completed' this alone offers a different message to those healing
Don't try to analyse the persons reasons for completing suicide you won't find the answer and will upset their loved one's left behind
Do try to understand the person in front of you, how they are feeling
DO Phone them this can often cut through the barrier which the awkward face to face meetings can bring
DO Send them a letter or Christmas card including a short note to express how you feel and let them know you are thinking about them
DO Ask them if they need any help but be specific i.e. “can I help with shopping, the children, do you need any baking doing, can I help you trim up or clean the house etc etc - don’t leave it open because the person probably won’t have the strength to ask for help
DO Take them an item of Christmas food you know they enjoy
DO Visit and make them a cuppa have a chat about other things other than the death
Do Wait until the bereft person talks about their loved one and acknowledge for example ‘sounds like it must be very difficult for you, I'm here, now if you want to talk about how you feel'
DO listen - if someone opens up to you it means they trust you so listen that's all you need do
DO Reassure if you don't know what to say, say that "I don’t know what to say or do, but I am here for you" and be there
DO Expect tears you don’t need to say anything just be there by their side and follow their lead
Don’t dictate or tell them what they should or shouldn't do or how they need to spend Christmas ask and share
Don't accept "I'm fine" until you are sure they are coping - I'm fine is a stock answer, an habit we all use and underneath 'I'm fine' is usually unexpressed sadness, pain and a sense of not belonging - help them belong
DO offer hugs if you are familiar with the person if you are not but feel a hug is appropriate ask "do you want a hug"
Don't pretend nothing happened - it did, it has and nothing can change this fact, ignoring it won't make it go away
DO speak about the person who died if you knew them remember something about them and share the memory with their loved one let them know what you remember it might raise a smile or a laugh shared memories are warming and real
DO be your self
DO look after yourself whilst you look after the bereft person
If you are bereaved by suicide how can you help yourself?
Plan and prepare don't just allow the day to come and overwhelm you
· Remember Christmas Day is just one day
· Remember you didn’t choose to be without your loved one
· Reach out connect with those you trust, ring a relative you’ve not
spoken to for a while or drop in on a neighbour
· If you are alone volunteer at local homeless hostel, visit an elderly
person or invite another who will be spending Christmas alone
· Stop all those ‘I should’ s' jumping in and flow with how you feel
· Begin creating a new normal for future Christmas traditions and
Give yourself permission to enjoy Christmas or at least a part of the day
Try to include your loved one in Christmas remember and honour them
· Focus on the love you had for your loved one and the love you had
for each other
Reflect upon the love you still feel in your heart for your loved one
· Visit their resting place
· Take flowers or another gift to a special place they enjoyed going to
· Talk to your loved one, say their name, tell them how you feel
· Talk to your family and children about your loved one
· Recall times when you were all happy as a family
· Bring your loved one into the time and space
Above all else take care of yourself on Christmas day
· Think of yourself over this time – let others take care of themselves
(unless they are children)
· Buy yourself something to enjoy on the day
· Have a warm bubble bath – breathe
· Cry if you want to – express those feelings
· Enjoy a TV programme
· Relax and take things slowly
· Don’t overwhelmed yourself with ‘doing’
· Don’t put to many expectations on yourself flow with how you feel on
Deep breath throughout the day so you can remain calm and present in the here and now
Treat your self with gentle loving kindness and patience
Remember you have survived the worst that could happen to your loved one; there is a light at the end of this tunnel
You can and will survive Christmas and beyond!