When people’s lives are tragically impacted by suicide this can feel extra difficult because of the stigma which sometimes still exists in society. People may feel they don’t know how to address it or speak about it. It can feel very lonely, a disenfranchised grief and the impact on the person left behind can last a lifetime.
People left behind by a loss by a suicide can feel all sorts of powerful emotions including overwhelming sorrow, grief, loss, anger and guilt. They may think ‘I should have noticed’, ‘it’s my fault’, ‘why didn’t I see the signs?’. They may feel angry that the person didn’t say or get help, and also anger about being abandoned because the person chose to leave them. They may also feel heartbroken compassion that the person didn’t see another way out.
Experiencing a loss by suicide, being witness to or discovering a suicide can be traumatic, for example; emergency services, passers by, family members, train drivers.
What can we do to help? If this is your experience, some people find that having an outlet for their grief is important and to be able to talk about their loss and acknowledge the pain. It can be useful to find ways to have an expression or outlet for the grief and maybe the anger. As a wider society, it can be tempting to avoid the person who has had this kind of loss because we don’t know what to say. However, the person has had a loss and we can still acknowledge with them their pain.
Please see below the link to an excellent document by the NHS to help those affected by suicide.
The morning after I killed myself, I woke up.
I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.
The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.
The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.
The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.
The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.
The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.
The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.
By Meggie Royer
Time and time again music has provided a form of healing for group members. With this in mind and the current situation around the world we thought we would create a short playlist which we hope can provide some healing for you.
Why is music effective?
Faster songs facilitate concentration and alertness while slower songs promote calmness. These effects frequently last even after you’ve stopped listening. Music also impacts breathing and heart rate, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, and improving overall health.
A Life Worth Living group which usually meets together at Simpson House has currently suspended face to face meetings in line with the government guidance on social distancing. However we will still be posting blogs as a way of connecting together through these unprecedented times.
This weeks blog, as we follow our group programme, will be about ‘Prejudice’.
The BBC ran an article about ‘Love and Understanding’ following discussion from The World Health Organisation saying that when talking about Covid-19, certain words and language may have a negative meaning for people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes.
“It is normal for people to fear something they are not aware of.” It is important we think about how our behaviour affects others when we are afraid, it is OK to do what we need to stay safe, and whatever that is we can still do it kindly. “Let’s have more understanding and love for each other.”
We share this beautiful poem
Yes there is isolation. Yes there is sickness. Yes there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way All over the world people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic The birds are singing again The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing. Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
At this group we considered how we can feel very stuck in life at times, we can feel stuck in situations, or in our thinking, or in the way we feel. Group members talked about how they had experienced breakthroughs at different points in their lives. One person talked about how they were having difficulty within a team, and was frustrated about being misunderstood. Their breakthrough came with a wise quote from another person who said; “You forgot to dismount”. They realised that the attempt to persuade had not been helping. A different approach of ‘divide and conquer’ was adopted, this allowed one to one conversations and greater understanding. So in this situation a change of perception and tactic allowed a breakthrough.
Another person had a breakthrough when they were being bullied. They asked the person bullying them to treat them as an equal and did not back down. The person felt better about themselves for doing this as it increased confidence.
We looked at an exercise together by using a cost benefit analysis of making a change. We explored the advantages and disadvantages of making changes and the advantages and disadvantages of NOT making changes. The group worked together with one person on a particular situation, this was helpful as the person was able to hear some objective viewpoints from other people who are outside the situation. It can be helpful to be open to other possibilities, as part of feeling stuck can be to just keep thinking round and round, trying the same limited approaches as the first breakthrough story above illustrates. We are then in a better position of what other decisions and solutions maybe available to us.
At our group today the topic for discussion was Shopping! A bit unusual and some members felt a bit dubious about it however as usual it led to a lively conversation!
We discussed how you would often see women loving the shopping experience and how you would see men waiting sitting waiting patiently but clearly looking forward to going home!
One group member said he usually felt like that however when he lived in Armitage there was a huge shop that sold many items including boats, even guns and outdoor equipment so he would enjoy looking round that.
Another member said they used to own a book shop and as that did not do so well they bought their own record collection in and started selling them and it built on that and was a successful record shop for many years ! One person spoke of the hours they would spend looking through records in shops like Cockburn Street.
A couple of people said they spent hours in book shops, and spoke of memories of old book shops and also a fairly new one that is quite grand inside and has ladders,leading up to more workspace which sounded amazing!
Another person spoke of shopping for hours with a family member for meaningless items and how boring they found it!
In our first group in January we looked at how people had got on over the Christmas and New Year period. It was fair to say it was pretty much a mixed bag in terms of this answer. Some people were pleasantly surprised with how well they coped while for others it felt like a long time from the build up to when things resumed back to normal. Routine and structure can form an important part of recovery which can leave a big void when it’s not there. People can use these experiences as a learning tool for future holiday periods.
Group members said that they wanted to have new positive goals for the year ahead as opposed to the usual New Year resolutions! A few group members wanted to continue with the good work they were doing in learning to feel better about themselves. Some people would like to get involved in volunteering or paid employment gradually over a period of time. The good thing about this group is how the mutual support given by one another helps people who may feel stuck in their situation deal with change with a bit less apprehension.
We did a group on climate change which is a topic we have never fully covered before in the group. We looked at the five major environmental problems;
- Ozone Depletion
- Loss of Biodiversity
- Disposal Waste
Group members acknowledged how they have become more aware of environmental issues and have since made changes in their lifestyles to reflect this. Some though did find it frustrating having so many changes to bins that they find it hard to know which bin is for what. If we all do our bit through recycling and other environmentally friendly ways we can all play a part in saving our beautiful planet.