Recovering from grief after a significant emotional loss is hard enough without the added pain when the death is the result of murder, suicide, or a disease such as AIDS. The feelings of being emotionally, mentally, or even socially isolated from the people and events around us,usually experienced by a griever, are compounded when the loved one dies at the hands of another, by her/his own hands, or from a socially stigmatized disease. Family and friends are often fearful of what others might think or say, or ashamed of the circumstances of the love one's death. Guilt or remorse may also creep in and begin to gnaw and tear away tiny bits of our heart because we wonder if there was more we could have said or done to protect the lost loved one. Shame and guilt are self destructive and self defeating emotions that will suffocate us emotionally,mentally, spiritually,and even physically. These emotions also stifle our healing and recovery.

When my brother committed suicide in 2006, I struggled with how to express the circumstances of his death when talking to others. I realized rather quickly that searching for an "acceptable" way to express his suicide to others was ridiculous and meaningless. The only thing that mattered was that my brother and only sibling was dead, and I needed to take the steps necessary to complete all that was so sadly left unfinished and unresolved in our relationship at the time he took his life. I knew that without actively taking the necessary steps toward completion, my grief would be very painfully prolonged. When I got the word he had committed suicide,the first thing I tought of was the last conversation we had and how angry he was with me. That thought then led to all the unfinished and unresolved things that had been left hanging when he ended his life. After the death of a loved one there are always things left that we wish had been different or better, or that there had been more time spent together and more expressions of love or admiration. There are things we wish we had said, wish we had not said,things we wish we had or had not done. These unfinished and uncommunicated aspects of the relationship seem to be magnified when someone dies at the hands of another or by their own hands.

The word closure is frequently used when someone dies as the result of someone else's actions or neglect or dies by their own hands. In the case of a suicide, we want to know the "whys" and what else could have been done to prevent the death. When the death was at the hands of another we feel we can not have closure until that person "pays". These are perfectly normal and natural, responses. A family is asked after a trial or lawsuit if they now have closure, or the family itself will say it needs closure. It is understandable to want the person responsible to be held accountable for the death of a loved one, and there is the feeling of "closing the book" on the experience when someone is made to pay the consequences of her/his actions. Unfortunately, this closure has only satified the need to resolve the circumstances of the death but has done very little to actually help the griever heal and recover.

Often after a murder, suicide, or death due to a socially stigmatized disease, family members will immerse themselves in a cause or form a new organization or support group to help or spare others the same experience. These activities and gestures are to be admired and honored and they certainly honor the lost loved one, but they can become a way for grievers to bury themselves in activiy so not to think about or feel their own agonizing pain and loneliness. This is an example of a few of the myths about grieving; you should stay busy and time will heal the wounds. It is important not to allow the circumstances of the death to overwhelm us so we become caught up in the new cause we have found, and do not take the active steps necessary for our own healing and recovery. After my brother committed suicide, I was balled up inside with anger, confusion, and frustration over the circumstances of his death; taking his own life. I soon realized dwelling on the circumstances and knowing or not knowing the "whys and wherefores" were not important in order for me to heal because those things were doing very little to help me find the completion and resolution in our relationship that I wanted and needed.

Grief recovery is reclaiming our sense of purpose and our desire to continue living, loving, and laughing. It is being able to have memories without feeling remorse or regret, and knowing in our heart that it is alright to feel sadness sometimes and being able to talk about it regardless of what others may think or say. Recovery is knowing deep in our hearts that it is just fine to feel happiness, excitement,and peace onceagain, and it doesn't mean we have forgotten the loved one or love her/him any less.

Author's Bio: 

Donna Haddad is a Grief Recovery® Specialist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Author, and Inspirational Speaker. Ms. Haddad has spent the last 13 years helping clients and conducting seminars in California and Oregon. She has written two books,is a contributing author/speaker to The Speaker Anthology- 101 Stories That Have Inspired and Motivated Audiences From Coast to Coast, and written articles for several newspapers and magazines. Ms. Haddad invites everyone to visit her website for additonal information about her, her products,services, and to contact her: