As the anniversary of my father’s suicide approaches, I wanted to reach out to the Alliance of Hope to thank members who took the time to give me support when I needed it most. My father died when I was young, and it wasn’t until I was a parent myself that I was able to fully grieve and come through the other side.
I have learned that this loss is a process that ebbs and flows but that the devastation of suicide doesn’t have to diminish your own light, joy, and hope for the future. I know my father would be proud of me, and I am proud that I carry a part of him inside of me and see him in the gentleness of my children.
One of the hardest elements of suicide, and one that isn’t spoken of much, is the stigma it carries. I spent years growing up ashamed of how my father died. I worried that others would see me as broken or similarly troubled, as he was. I struggled with how to explain my father’s death to new boyfriends and, eventually, my own children, who had many questions.
What I’ve taken away from this experience is that the stigma must change. Suicide is a terrible, aching, painful loss. But it does not define us as survivors. We have suffered, but we are strong. My father’s death will always leave me with questions and sorrow, but I am at the point where I can remember him with love and caring, I can forgive him (yes, for me that was necessary), and I can say I’m not ashamed.
It has changed me forever, but it has not destroyed me. I am a strong, resilient, caring, and emotionally healthy survivor of a soul-crushing loss.
That’s pretty amazing. And I got here in part through the care and support of other survivors who took the time to be there for me. My heart goes out to everyone still in the throes of grief and to everyone touched by the loss of suicide.
I just wanted to remind you that you did nothing wrong and this wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault. Be kind to yourself, take all the time you need to grieve, and remember in the middle of the darkest hour that the pain does change. It moves past the ache in your chest where some days you can’t even breathe to eventually a slip of a smile as you harken back to a wonderful memory, and in that moment you feel the love you shared with the person you lost and the love you deserve and hold for yourself. I’m sorry you are here, but I am proud that you are surviving and strong.