Q: Someone close to me recently committed suicide. Could I have done something different? I am struggling to return back to ordinary life.

Grief is a natural process following the loss of a loved one. It is natural to have a host of questions and emotions especially after the suicide of a loved one. That confused emotional state is partly your mind trying to make sense of things and part of the grieving process. Few elements will determine how and when you recover from grief; letting out your feelings, forgiveness, hope, mindset change and time. It is also important to look at how, we can take steps to minimize the risk of suicide with our loved ones.

Various emotional states follow after a close friend commits suicide and sharing those feelings to someone is vital to healing. Those of us who remain behind are often  in confusion, wondering why the other person took their life, especially when you never see it coming. When a loved one takes their life you are confused as to what could have driven them to do that. You have questions but no one to answer them. The emotional state synonymous with suicide is grief. Grief is intense sorrow which breaks an individual’s spirit. When you grieve you miss your loved ones, you feel hurt and you are in inaudible amounts of pain but no amount of crying will make the hurt and the pain stop. It feels like a never ending torturous cycle of pain. However, grief is a normal and a healthy way of coping after the loss of a loved one and it will get better over time. It is vital and crucial to healing that you let your feelings out and express how you feel to someone, just don’t keep it inside and remember this process is not to get you answers its simply to release your frustration and let all your feeling out.

You don’t have to understand it for it to make sense. In almost every scenario we always want to rationalize things, to make sense of things as human beings. Especially after something shocking or devastating happens, we look for answers in a bid to make sense of things. Post suicide there are hardly any answers or explanations. Owing to the fact that the person who could have provided the answers is gone. This usually sends us spiraling down in a pit of emotions such as grief, feeling betrayed, anger, depression and anxiety all the while trying to make sense of it all. It is important that you come to terms with the fact that some questions will never be answered.

Never allow yourself or anyone to take the blame or responsibility for someone who committed suicide. Those of us who remain behind tend to blame ourselves, when someone close to us takes their own life. Individuals who stay behind start thinking if they could have done more as a friend. Most people go down the line of; if only I was there for them, I didn’t do enough and I should have been there with him / her. Never allow yourself to take the blame or responsibility for someone’s death, not just because it is not mentally healthy but because you are actually not responsible for that person’s death. Suicide has nothing to do with any one individual, you can be the best friend in the whole wide world but when someone decides to commit suicide there is nothing you can do to stop them. You can take steps to help your friend or try and prevent them from taking their life but ultimately, no one deserves to wear the heavy burden of responsibility when it comes to suicide.

Forgive
Those of us who remain behind also tend to  blame the person who committed suicide. It is vital that you forgive them as part of healing. Until you let it all out and come to a place of forgiveness it is impossible to heal. It is also easy to blame the person who committed suicide and more often than not this blame is accompanied by anger and feeling betrayed. Most people get angry because they feel suicide was such a selfish way to go, as it does not consider the feelings of those who are left behind. Feelings of blame, betrayal and anger are even worse when the person who committed suicide had children and a family along with other responsibilities. The family will not help but think to themselves “How could he/ she do this to us”. The honest truth is that person is not selfish nor are they a coward. Life can sometimes get so complicated such that people fill like they do not have any options, people can feel so suffocated that they think death is the only way out. It is tough to know exactly what goes on in someone’s mind when they take their life but one thing is certain for someone to take their own life, they have to be going through excruciating pain to which there is no foreseeable end in their mind. Forgiveness is, therefore, a crucial part of healing for those harboring feeling of anger and betrayal.

Hope
Hope is central to grieving, hope provides comfort and security even when faced by death. Without hope grief has no end nor does it have an equal. Hope replaces the pain of loss with the joy and expectation of an afterlife. Hope  tells your heart that everything will be OK, your loved one is simply resting. To fully get this concept it is central to understand that the human is made up of two parts;  soul (eternal) body (temporary). In fact, CS Lewis is believed to have said “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”. The reason why, is the time we spent on earth is a mere fraction of the time we have in eternity. As humans our true place is in heaven with Jesus, hence, when someone dies they have the afterlife. Most people when they think of death they think of a dead body and a rotting corpse but the truth is the body is just a mere shell containing who we really are (the soul). The only being that has power that affect the spirit or soul of a human is God. Death is a mere temporary state of affairs, however, that does not nullify the sting and pain of death.

Mindset
To move from grieving to hope you have to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The less you think about the reasons why someone took their life the better because you will never find out. The battle is won in the mind first, hence, you have to fight any negative thought that enters your mind. You will get thoughts like: it’s all my fault, I was not there for him/ her, why did he/she do this or I did not love him/ her enough. Right at that very moment you have to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The reason why Christ is mentioned is because he is the hope of salvation and without him there is no true hope only a false idea of what hope is. To know the person of Christ is to know hope by so doing you give yourself the power to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Jesus
It takes time to go through grief and just how long it takes is determined by you. Once you neglect hope and changing your mindset then grieving becomes an everyday process which stalks you by day and haunts you by night. It is so easy for us as humans to sideline the healing and restoring ability of Jesus because we would rather blame him for what has happened. No matter who we are a Christian, atheist, or whatever religious group we always blame God for death. But now is not a time to play the blame game, now is a time to heal, a time for hope and a time to stop running. Face your emotions and put to rest the questions to which there are no answers to. Instead run to Jesus, whoever, you are Christian or non-Christian and see the healing and restoring ability of Jesus. Failure to take any of these factors into consideration will sentence you to a life time of pain and suffering without an end. Give Jesus a go you have nothing to lose.

Prevention
Always ask your friends when they are going through something life changing if they are OK, ask the tough question; are you thinking about suicide? Take every single threat of suicide seriously and always follow through on what that person means. Once you ask and the answer is ‘YES’ then try discuss why they want to commit suicide and how they are going to commit suicide. If they do not want to talk to you about it get them to call the suicide hot line. Some people will say statements like ‘better if I was dead’, ‘you will miss me when I am gone’, never take such comments lightly always follow up on such comments. Ask them if they have a plan and figure out how practical the plan is. If the plan is practical/ and threat imminent take steps to prevent that/ (call emergency services) 000 (Australia) if you cannot help, call suicide hot line and talk to them about the next step.

Important Contacts for Support in Australia:

Mind Spot Clinic1800 61 44 34– free online telephone clinic- adults
Web: https://mindspot.org.au/urgent-help

Headspace1800 650 890– free online telephone clinic for young people 12- 25
Web:http://headspace.org.au/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAoby1BRDA-fPXtITt3f0BEiQAPCkqQcEyG1ANmLLthsJBJjfnq8eeAp-MdOHAZdf-q7QN_nsaApzZ8P8HAQ

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Web: https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/

Call kids help line1800 55 1800
Web: http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/

Call life line 13 11 14– crisis support
Web:https://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Facts—Information/Preventing-Suicide?gclid=Cj0KEQiAoby1BRDAfPXtITt3f0BEiQAPCkqQVJqjsnS1mrIiSDV_tNw1CuWJ-8p_Fqg9mQghdtSJucaAjXo8P8HAQ

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