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WordPress Shortcode. Toredaerf Follow. Give yourself permission to deal with your grief and mourning in your way and give him or her latitude to follow their journey without judgement or timeline. I had to be strong. What I discovered quickly is that I could be of no use to anyone without first allowing myself to be kind to me. I needed to allow myself some personal time to simply enjoy something — anything — that would give my brain and heart a break from the pain.

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For me, it was something as simple as allowing myself to take the time to do something that I loved but rarely did, like attend live soccer matches or watch my favourite teams play on television. I embraced a passion I had my entire life but rarely allowed myself the time to enjoy. That was just a few hours each week but it made a difference. Within 6 months my wife and I took an unplanned quiet vacation to Jamaica, again, in order to take a breather from everyone and everything.

Some thought it odd that we could vacation while mourning our son but it was a necessary kindness we afforded ourselves that helped us along our journey. My wife and I have experienced our grief differently, yet there is one thing we will agree to: Joining a support group of peers who have experienced the loss of a family member to suicide was one of the best things we could have done. We met with grief counselors immediately after our loss, which was OK but did not have a lasting effect on moving us along our journey.

We spoke to friends who were all genuinely trying to help us — and we appreciated them — but could not find the release we required. Being surrounded by others who truly understand the myriad of emotions unique to the survivors left behind in a suicide is amazing therapy. Listening to others share their journeys can be difficult but also cathartic. I get it.

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Bereaved parents support groups are useful but where possible, find a support group of suicide survivors. It has been one of the most emotionally taxing experiences for me this entire year. Even now, over a year later, when I give a 15 minute or 60 minute presentation to kids or parents about mental health, I need to sleep for 18 hours to recuperate. However, I learned that my fear was caused more by the multiple warnings I received from well-meaning friends and family than the reality of the event. I discovered that I did not miss my son any more or less on those special days than I did the day before or the day after.

His birthday is not a day for me to mourn the fact that he is no longer here to blow out the candles but to celebrate the joy he brought to my life and that of our family and friends in his 19 years.

A Letter to Parents Surviving a Child’s Suicide

To help, look for rituals that make you feel better or support your beliefs. With each release we give thanks for him and celebrate his life. That small change in attitude — with a little planning — has made these celebrations more meaningful and helped us to move along that journey instead of getting stuck on it. As survivors, we must find a way to accept that this was not a rational choice.

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The illness of depression took that choice away from them. Grief — and all the emotions that it pulls — is just an obstacle on the journey. Avoiding it will prevent you from getting to where you need to be. If you have the opportunity to enjoy a moment in life, lean in and enjoy it.

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However, you will be fine. You will not get over it but you will find ways to manage it. You may have noticed my constant reference to a journey in this letter.

The Grieving Process: Coping with Death

Embrace the journey; like life itself, it will be riddled with highs and lows and each must be experienced to become the person you are. There are support groups, professionals, and individuals who can help. My experience has been that my peers — those who have also lost a loved one to suicide — are the best support. Join the conversation and support. If you have experienced the loss of a child to suicide and wish to add to this list of experiences or perspectives, please add your thoughts in the comments below.

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