Why? This is a question which anyone whose life is touched by suicide will find themselves asking. Why would anyone willingly cause his or her own death? The answer to this question is simple but the grief experienced by anyone who is dealing with suicide is anything but simple.
Suicide is a topic which has been shrouded in stigma for hundreds of years. This stigma ensures that the shock which is normally experienced in the wake of any death is experienced multifold when someone commits suicide. Often, the pain of coping with suicide is so acute that it feels like we have lost our own lives right along with them when they chose to take theirs. Those of us left behind in the wake of a suicide often find ourselves drowning in a sea of unfathomable grief and misunderstanding. A large part of that misunderstanding comes from the stigma that there is something inherently wrong with suicide. In our society today, suicide has become taboo because it is so tightly interwoven with the concept of sin. It is for this reason that when trying to heal from the grief of a suicide, the first understanding to come to is that there are no consequences awaiting those who commit suicide after death.
The idea that there is a consequence waiting after death for those who chose suicide is an idea fabricated by the minds of men. Men who sought to create conformity and obedience. Men who sought to control other people’s lives to put themselves into power. The idea that suicide meant punishment after death is not even an idea that shows up in religion until men began to use religion to control the masses. They demanded conformity, which pulled people sideways, away from their own joy. When that occurred, men began to suffer and so a religious idea was invented by man to justify why a person should continue to conform and put up with suffering.
The idea that was given to the people by those who sought to control them was that life is supposed to be hard. The idea that was given to the people is that life is supposed to be one of suffering and penance so that man may make himself worthy of a God that stands in judgment of him. They used this belief to justify their control of others, most especially to justify things like taxation, which at times in early civilization became so extreme that taxation made living a good life… impossible. God was made out to be a being which was external from mankind, more like a parent figure who both rewarded and punished you based on your conformity or failure to conform. The idea presented to man kind was that life wasn’t meant to be joyous. Instead, it was meant to be hard and full of tests and that the reward for passing those tests and bearing your hard life well came after you died. So with that understanding, people began to rush the process and hasten their transition into the rewards of death. In other words a large percentage of them began to commit suicide. When those intent on creating conformity saw that they had lost control again because those people who didn’t want to conform were killing themselves, they had to invent a new idea… The idea that the only time that death does not mean reward is if you kill yourself. They made suicide a sin a kin to murder. Not because it is. But because it was the only way to keep control and get people to conform. This belief and stigma still exists in our society surrounding the idea of suicide. It is an idea which has been added to and justified and perpetuated for hundreds of years. It is no part of universal, objective truth. Though we all gain more from joy than from suffering, though we all wish joy for those we love and though it is unimaginably painful to loose someone to suicide, suicide is not “bad”. Suicide is not a sin. Suicide is not “wrong”.
Suicide is the byproduct of the feeling of total powerlessness. It occurs when someone has focused negatively for so long or with such intensity, that they become cut off from the natural stream of wellbeing which created their life in the first place (their higher self). When this occurs, they become cut off from their own desires and from who they really are. They hold themselves vibrationally apart from their higher self to such a degree that life force energy is prevented from flowing through them. This life force is often referred to as an inner light. In the absence of that inner light, they feel as if they are in a chasm so deep and dark that there is no way out. They feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And as such, their pain exceeds their resources for coping with the pain of that “disconnection”. And suicide seems like the only way out of that space. No one commits suicide out of selfishness. In fact, they often feel as if other people around them are also better off without their misery and darkness. From their perspective, it seems more like mercy towards themselves and others to check out of their life.
We all intuitively (if not mentally) know that what is waiting for us after death is the pure positive vibration of source energy or that which has been called God perspective. This is why suicide happens. We intuitively sense the presence of relief in death.
Suicide could be accurately seen as pushing a re-set button. It is not a decision which is good or bad in and of itself. Source (that which is often called God) does not condemn nor condone the decision. And nor should we. We can not say that suicide is wrong without also saying that death is wrong. And death is not wrong. It is the natural conclusion of everyone’s life just like birth is the natural beginning of everyone’s life. Everyone chooses their death. This is the case regardless of whether someone dies from an accident or from illness or from suicide. For death to occur, an individual’s singular perspective must align with (agree with) the perspective of their higher self in the decision to withdraw the focus of their consciousness into physical, three dimensional reality. Both perspectives must concur that death is a step in the right direction for death to occur, so having said that, suicide is about one thing and one thing only, those who it leaves behind.
How does a person go about coping and healing from the grief experienced when someone they love commits suicide?
1. Be prepared for VERY powerful emotions and changes. Your life will never be the same again. The reason you want to prepare for this is that the emotions and beliefs flushed up by suicide are so intense that at some point in the process, you are bound to feel as if you are going crazy. But you are not going crazy. The emotions which are going to come up are normal as extreme as they may be. They will be all consuming and the worst thing to do is to resist them. “I am where I am” should be the motto of anyone dealing with this kind of grief. There is nothing wrong with you any more than there is something wrong with a woman going through the process of birth. Your world is falling apart at the seams. The process will be all consuming. You may experience nightmares and symptoms of post traumatic stress. The idea that you should “just be ok” or “deal with it gracefully” is one you should let go of upfront. Try to trust that if you surrender to the process, you will eventually come out on the other side with a brand new life. Well being is natural to life. If you allow yourself to surrender, the process will carry you like a current to the other side. If you fight against these emotions and the changes, if you fight for composure, you will be fighting against a current that you can’t win against. It will feel like you are drowning.
2. Find support from people who know about grief and whom will allow you to be wherever you are in the process and not expect you to keep it together. Find people to support you who you feel good being around. If it feels good to be alone, find people to support you who will allow you to do that. Realize that they too will be going through their own process of grief. These people can also help you to take care of the day to day part of living while you are grieving. They can help you with meals, with errands, with funeral arrangements and with informing other people that a loved one has passed away as the result of suicide. People actually enjoy helping, in fact one of the hardest parts of watching someone cope with a death of a loved one is feeling helpless with nothing to do. In this day and age, even if you don’t have close friends and family, there are organizations and people whose sole purpose is to step in and fill this role for you. Go looking for them. Grief is a time to learn that we live in an interdependent universe and that we can ask for help.
3. Understand the feelings associated with grief.
Shock is the first reaction to any death. When you first discover that someone has committed suicide, you may be so shocked that you will feel totally numb. This numbness can last for a long time. It is the natural result of your brain trying to process something which is too much for it to process. Similar to the shock the body experiences as a result of an injury, this kind of emotional shock is the result of brain protecting itself from the initial pain of the loss. This numbness can make it so that you are unable to go on with your day to day life. Your routine will be completely interrupted. Let it. This is a time for being where you are. This shock may last a few hours or a few days or go on for several weeks. Denial may also be a part of this initial shock.
Anger and Blame is usually the second reaction to death. Most people who lose a loved one experience this emotion at some point. It is completely normal. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you buried in grief to deal with alone. Or you may be angry with yourself or others for missing clues about your loved one’s suicidal intentions. You may be angry that something could’ve been done differently but wasn’t. Don't deny your anger. Talk about it, think about it, and deal with it constructively. Find out what you are really angry about. Own up to that anger. There’s nothing wrong with anger. And it does not mean you are a bad person or that you don’t love the person who is gone.
Guilt is the third emotion associated with death. Often, when you are dealing with suicide, the anger you have towards the whole situation turns inwards on yourself. When you have hit the guilt stage of grief, you will play out endless scenarios of “what if” and “if only” and “I should have” in your own mind. To stay in a place of guilt is to punish yourself for something you can not change. There is nothing natural about that. Your loved one, who has exited this life, does not want you to feel guilty. There is no healing that can take place when you continue to hold yourself accountable for someone else’s life, even if that life is the life of your spouse or what’s more… your child. Relief from guilt will come only when you accept that nothing can be done. It was their choice (not your choice) to do what they wanted with their own life. Your loved one is no longer here in the physical and nothing can be changed. Your loved one can't be helped any more. They have done what they felt was the best thing to do and now, they are in a place of total relief. They are free. And so all there is to do is to decide whether to commit to life again. And once you’ve decided to commit to life again, all there is to do is to start a new life piece by piece and minute by minute, one which is built from the experience of loss.
Despair and Sadness are the next feelings associated with suicide. Once you really let go of what could have been done differently and come into a place of acceptance about the fact that your loved one is no longer here in the physical, and that nothing can be changed, you will most likely find yourself in the full experience of loss. You may find that you are completely overtaken by loneliness, sadness, or helplessness. It is even common for you to consider suicide yourself. The key to healing from this stage is about living moment to moment trying to be in the now. Be very honest with yourself and prioritize doing things which feel good in the exact moment you are in. Don’t make any long term plans. Find joy in very tiny things, like watching an uplifting movie or spending time with a favorite pet. If you run away from this pain by making big changes, you will find out that your despair will follow you wherever you run to. Take time to look for things that you have true gratitude for. Even if those things are as small as the feeling of hot water running over you in the shower. Any kind of positive focus will move you into a better feeling place. And bit by bit, you will find yourself at a point where you can begin to establish a new routine. And you may begin to even look forward to the future sometimes.
• Relief is a feeling which is also a part of the emotional experience, but it is one which is not often talked about in association with suicide. This is because when it comes to death, relief is in and of itself treated as a taboo emotion. We have been indoctrinated to believe that if we love someone, we must feel really, really, really bad that they have transitioned into death forever. But death is a release of pain. That is why people commit suicide in the first place. If we pay close attention to how we feel when a loved one commits suicide, we will notice we often experience a brief feeling of relief.
Usually, by the time a person has committed suicide, their life has been consumed by pain and suffering for a long time. Those of us who were surrounded by that suffering may have felt the intense burden or exhaustion from being involved with them and being unable to do anything to change their suffering. And so the relief we may feel is a reflection of knowing we do not have to worry about them anymore and it is all over. We know they are not suffering and that the difficulty has ended. It is not “selfish” to feel this way. It is also very natural. Feeling this way does not mean that you don’t love the person who has left this physical existence. So let go of the tendency to feel guilt for this feeling of relief. It is natural to feel relief when someone’s suffering has come to an end.
4. Grieve in your own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Don’t rush the process. Just like birth, each person’s grieving process will be unique unto themselves. Do what's right for you, not anyone else. Wait to do things you don’t feel ready to do until you are ready. Don’t let anyone tell you to be anywhere other than where you are. When you feel ready to move into a space of joy again, then you can initiate your own healing by finding help or by working through it on your own. The honest truth is that for many of us, the grief process is something we feel we really need. And so we should not try to rush it. People who want you to be better…now, feel that way because it hurts them to see you grieve. Not because feeling grief in and of it’s self is wrong. We want happiness for each other. It is easier for us to be happy when those around us are happy themselves. But you are only responsible for one thing: How YOU feel.
5. Allow yourself to experience set backs. Healing is not a linear process it is a process that happens in cycles. Some days will be better than other days. Anniversaries, birthdays and reminders of your loved one are likely to flush up grief all over again. These patterns of healing by re experiencing the pain will get fewer and farther in between and they will not be as intense and all consuming as they were the first time. Do not criticize yourself for these “set backs” because they are not really set backs at all. It is impossible to move backwards in this life. What is happening is that you are reaching new levels of healing. New healing begins with discovering new levels of pain.
6. Allow yourself alone time but remain connected to others. For most of us, it takes being alone with our thoughts in order to fully process and cope with grief. These periods of time where we really sit with ourselves and the truth of our feelings as they are… are a crucial part of healing. And we should allow ourselves to make time for them. Simultaneously, it is a wise decision to stay connected with people whom support us. For you, that may mean family and friends, or it may mean clergy or professionals or support groups. Keep in touch with people who can comfort and understand you and participate in your healing process. Keep that door open. If your alone time turns into isolation, you may find that you have dug your way into your own space of deep suffering and you will have trouble integrating yourself back into the world. You can take time to be alone, but do not expect yourself to go through the process of grief alone.
7. Replace the beliefs which keep you in a place of suffering. What keeps people grieving are the thoughts which they are holding on to which don’t feel good to think. It may sound too simplistic, but it is really as simple as that. In order to build a new life and heal from the loss of someone to death, especially to suicide, we need to let go of the idea that if we love someone, we need to remain loyal to their memory and stay miserable because of the loss of them for the rest of our lives. This is not what loyalty is. Laughing and enjoying your life does not mean you’ve forgotten your loved one. If you really love someone, the best thing you can do for them is to become an example of alignment with joy. This is especially true when suicide is involved. Those who commit suicide, do so because however capable they may be, they are unable to align with joy. But they wanted joy. They wanted joy for themselves and for those around them. They made the decision that they had to die in order to align with that joy. But you do not have to die in order to align with joy. All you have to do is find a new way to think. Find a way to think about the situation that feels good. When the time comes that you are ready,
Let go of your thoughts that don’t feel good to think such as:
• "What could I have done differently?"
• “They are gone forever”
• “I am totally alone”
• “I can’t do this”
• “I’ll never get over this”
• “What did I do to deserve this”
• “Life is over”
• “It was so selfish of them to do that”
• “I can’t go on”
• “I must have done something horrible in my last life to deserve this”
• “I’m a terrible person”
• “They’ve ripped this family apart”
Replace thoughts which feel bad to think with thoughts that feel good to think
• “They are at peace”
• “They didn’t do this to hurt me.”
• “I have become a more compassionate and whole person because of this experience”
• “In honor of their memory I allow myself to find joy like they couldn’t”
• "I choose to seek out that which makes me happy”
• “I will see them again”
• “They are not gone. They have just “exited the movie theatre of life”.
Thoughts which feel better to think are going to vary based on whoever is thinking them. One thought may feel really good for one person to think, but wont feel so good for another person to think. The key is finding the thoughts which feel really good for you, yourself to think. Spend time focused on those thoughts.
Sometimes we prevent ourselves from choosing thoughts that feel good because we are unsure if they are true or not. Don’t preoccupy yourself with seeking out truth over what feels good in your life. Truth, as an external consensus does not exist. Instead, your life will become the byproduct of what thoughts you chose to think. And you will call that byproduct…Truth. And so, the gift of grief and loss is that when your life falls apart, you have the opportunity to build the truth of your life intentionally out of thoughts and beliefs that feel good to think. Because of this, you have the opportunity to build an even better life for yourself than the one you were living before. This is part of the universal intention for the existence of things as life shattering as coping with suicide in the first place.
You are meant to choose your life, not live a life that is the default byproduct of beliefs you adopted from your childhood experience. The gift of any kind of suffering is that it calls everything into question. Let your life fall apart. Then when you are ready, decide how you want to put it together again. Decide what thoughts and beliefs you want to lay as the foundation for your new life. Your grief and sadness will gradually subside, when you surrender to the process and then decide that you are ready to intentionally create new joy.
Teal Scott is an extrasensory luminary who writes and speaks publicly about health, happiness, and spirituality. To see more visit: www.thespiritualcatalyst.com