The end of each year is traditionally a wonderful time for many people, but it can be difficult for survivors of suicide loss, no matter how long it has been since their lives changed. Among the decorations, music, special events, and general holiday cheer are threads of memories that take us back to days when our loved ones were alive and with us. There are reminders composed of bits of love and joy that sting and taunt us with a question we know the answer to, a question that persists anyway: “Why is my loved one not here?” Finding what we have in common with others can help us through the darkest moments of grief.
When we are with others who have experienced and survived a loss similar to our own, we sense understanding, compassion, and support. Those things help us grow stronger. Supplies for the journey seem scant sometimes, so words of comfort or shared suggestions may be valuable treasures.
In the early years, these small tokens shine like jewels to be collected. To see someone surviving such devastation warms the heart. At the same time, feeling alone and hopeless is normal during deep grief. I believe tiny moments of hope are the most formidable force on earth, yet it took several years after I lost my beloved husband, Ron, to understand that power.
Like you, I am still on the healing journey. Along the way, I found myself training to cofacilitate workshops and support programs, both for survivors of suicide loss and for survivors of any kind of loss. Along the way, I found much in common with those whose losses occurred in different ways, especially when I encountered holidays.
The same kinds of support and healing modalities help all of us. People who are willing to listen without trying to “fix” us. Invitations that come with “We’ll understand if you are not up to it or if you need to leave early. We just love you.” Genuine smiles and hugs that don’t require you to keep up a false facade of cheerfulness. Thoughtful gifts like journals, candles, tins of tea. Churches and organizations that plan special times to honor a loved one’s memory and workshops to help you navigate the holiday period. Friends who offer to do errands or whatever needs to be done at your house. Forum posts from every corner of the world.
You are not alone. You are loved.
I hope you find peaceful moments in the days ahead. Look for them. Hold on to them. Share them.