When suicide touched my life, everything in my world changed. I was married for 33 years to a wonderful man who – in my eyes – could do no wrong. Happy as two people could be, our union kept us very close.
Losing him meant losing myself for a long while. Yet, when I found myself again, his love was still there. His place in my life had only shifted. When I accepted that, I began to see that healing is possible and that my life – no matter how painful it felt at the time – could be full and vibrant again.
My husband and I had shared our hearts and our lives. Many of you understand what that means because you have done the same. Whether your heart broke after the suicide of a spouse, partner, child, parent, or other family member or friend, something was taken that can never be replaced. The wound that leaves is deep, so deep.
What I needed after my husband’s death did not seem to exist.
I did not find it in the workplace or on the grocery shelves. There was no pharmacy that carried it, no professional who could hand it over. I wondered where in the world I could find wholeness or even peace?
Healing was not even at home or in the solitary places I clung to. Yes, bits of good advice and comfort landed here and there around me. Those who loved me lingered nearby.
I searched for answers to all the questions that follow suicide and I searched for my new place in the world. I did not want it. I did not think I could do more than live between the dead and the living, in a hollow place … alone.
However, I was wrong. Looking back, I see the shining light that found me, that guided me onto a new shore.
This light, so clearly visible now, is composed of many, many tiny flames of hope. They come from the voices of other survivors. They light when one of us opens his or her heart to another.
Talking about pain and longing, memories, or love with strangers and friends can seem like a daunting proposition, but it helps. It’s a time-consuming process, I imagine, set to the pace of our grief. Mourning is never over in a day or a month or even a year. After mourning comes rebalance, rebuilding.
When survivors on the Alliance of Hope Community Forum replied to my posts, or shared thoughts of their own, an amazing thing happened. I collected their words and held them to my heart like a salve that might ease the pain of a physical wound. Small moments, a sense of open sharing, gave me and countless others the healing moments that could be found nowhere else.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you may feel that you are beyond help, beyond hope. That’s not true. No matter how long it has been since your loss, no matter how your journey has gone since, you can find peace and comfort among those who understand. I’ve seen this replicated in my community as well, as what I learned at the Alliance of Hope spread like ripples on the water into other areas of my life.
It takes courage to open your heart, but when you find people willing to do that, you find a new life that is worth living. Start with the first glimpse into a human heart. Start here.