Mourning – a painful, long process for those who have lost someone to suicide.
Two years seems to be a typical time of intense sorrow and numbness for those who have lost a loved one. Over and over I have seen the time frame played out with students and clients in therapy.
It takes about two years before the force of reality hits home. Truth knocks the mourner down with a blow similar to a heavyweight boxer hitting him in the gut. The person understands the great loss will last the rest of his life, and he hates it. Often I hear the expression, “I despise my life and I can’t stand the pain. It’s eating me up inside.”
Family and friends, who gathered close for the first few months or a year eventually go on with their lives. Rarely do they give the mourner’s loss another conscious thought. For the most part, there is no longer a human source in which to find comfort, thus, loneliness and isolation, can become overwhelming.
Talking things over with God helps the grief stricken person to slowly begin to move on with life. Journaling is also a valid, healthy way to start to resolve the issues.
How can you help your friends who are mourning loved ones lost to suicide?
I have made it a practice for many years to have a daily prayer list for those who are grieving the loss of their loved one. At the end of the year, I write them a note. Generally I begin: Each morning I have prayed for you and your family during your first year of mourning . . . I have received numerous return notes telling me how my prayers have impacted and comforted their lives. One mother at my high school wrote: If my daughter would have had you as her counselor, she would still be alive today.
We have a responsibility and privilege to continue to support those who mourn. Romans 12:15 states, “Weep with them that weep” (KJV).
Jeenie Gordon is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, and author, including contributing to Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victims and Survivors, excerpted in this post and used by permission from New Hope Publishers.