My Grandma and Grandpa have been two of the most important people in my life since the moment I was born. For just over 19 years, I never had to imagine life without either of them, until last November, when my Grandpa passed away. This was a gut-wrenching few months for my family and me as my Grandpa was always the true leader of our family. Just 3.5 months later, I lost my Grandma to suicide. Upon hearing the news of how my Grandma died, my stomach dropped. I was in shock and feeling emotions that I don’t know how to describe. During my grief, I felt angry and it was an odd feeling. Most times of mourning that I have experienced have been sad, but I have never been angry at the person who died before. After a whirlwind of a year where I have lost two of my favorite people, I’ve finally sat down to reflect on all of my emotions and share with you some advice if you lose a loved one to suicide:
- I know you will be searching for answers, but unfortunately, it is likely that there are no answers. The only person that knew what your loved one was feeling was themself. Accepting the fact that there are no answers is difficult, and it is certainly not something I’ve mastered. Every day is a challenge, but I find some peace in not knowing the answers.
- Don’t worry about the stigma around telling people about it. I was scared to tell one of my closest friends because of how they would react, but they supported me with endless love and made sure I was ok. You’d be surprised how many other people have gone through what you are going through, so it can be helpful to learn from their experiences and lean on them for support. You are not alone.
- Mental health is just as serious as physical health. My grandfather passed away last fall, and I knew it was coming as I watched him physically decline. With my grandmother, there was no physical decline and her mental illness was almost invisible. This of course, as many of you might be able to relate, was difficult to understand. The last time I had seen my grandmother, she appeared to be fine. I was anticipating seeing her fairly soon until she died. Losing a loved one to suicide can bring up a lot of complicated emotions, but it is important to remember that suicide is complex and that there is no one reason why someone ends their life.
- It isn’t your fault. You may be wondering what you could have done differently to prevent the situation from occurring, but it is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong and there is nothing you could have done differently. While the situation is of course tragic, you had no part in the outcome. Your loved one cared for you and loved you so much, and even though you might not have been able to say goodbye or see them one last time, just know that they will always love you.
- Understand that everything I listed above is common to feel. The reason I am sharing these specific pieces of advice is because I felt all of these emotions. Whatever you are feeling is valid, just try your best to communicate your feelings in a healthy way to ensure you get the support you need.
While I do not completely accept or understand what happened, I’ve learned to adapt to a new lifestyle without my Grandma and Grandpa. It hasn’t been easy, but I notice subtle improvements every day. I’ve needed all the support I can get from my friends and family, and that is ok. Getting support is a good thing, not a bad thing, it will only help you. A lesson I’ve learned from this past year is to fully appreciate every moment I have with those that I care about. Any day can be your last, so love your family and friends and do things you love. Grandma, I love you and I hope you’re at peace with Grandpa right now.
If you are struggling and need help don’t be afraid to call or text 988, reach out to your doctor for help, or talk to your loved ones to find the support you need. Remember, there is always a way up and a path to feeling better.
#BeThe1To is an initiative started by the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline that seeks to spread messaging around the steps that all of us can take to help prevent suicide.
This link via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention details many different resources you can use if you’ve lost someone to suicide, including articles, support groups, videos, and more.