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Re-experiencing the Loss

Every morning when I wake up, I re-experience that day all over again....will it ever go away?

By Emily Duval, M.A., Psychology, MBACP Accred.

The short answer: it will.

The longer answer: Re-living the traumatic day is a common experience after a death by suicide. You may find that you want to go over each detail of the day, retracing each step and analyzing every movement.

It is a normal part of your process. In some way it may help us to gain some semblance of understanding what occurred on the day, as much as possible. When your brain is saturated and satisfied, it is likely that you will move on to another 'stage' of your grief and healing process.

If you have a particularly disturbing image in your memory and distressing recollections, you may consider seeking the support of a therapist who can help you to process traumatic memories.

 

By Ginny Sparrow, Editor, AAS’s newsletter, Surviving Suicide, survivor of her mother’s suicide in 1995 when she was twenty-six

Not only will it go away, but you’re lucky. I know it sounds crazy, but having your grief and trauma feel like it’s right in your face constantly is you grieving freely. Burying it is easier and gets you through, but as they say, pay now or pay later with interest.

Consider this story. Two sisters in there twenties lose their mother to suicide. One wails semi-uncontrollably. This goes on for weeks, and it’s a year before she goes through a single day without crying. At the end of the year, morning doesn’t begin with a flashback until at least the second cup of coffee (huge improvement, right?). She attends support groups regularly, and when she’s ready she does some one-on-one therapy. She reads voraciously and actually smiles after awhile when she reflects on the good times with her mother. After having Groundhog Day every morning, suddenly her mother’s last act is not the first thing that comes to her mind when she thinks of her. “Good” grieving, huh? Ugly at first, but the results were worth it. Kind of like dieting. Who wants to do that?

Now let’s look at how the other sister handled her grief. This sister was the one to find the body and call the police. This trauma is often set aside as a completely unique experience within the suicide grief process, and one that needs to be handled carefully. Groups, therapy, etc. are highly recommended. Instead, the sister busies herself with the funeral and throws quite the event, right down to the beautiful burned CD of all her mother’s favorite songs to play. When that task is over, she returns clean casserole dishes to all the neighbors, pronto. Next is the holidays, so she makes sure Christmas isn’t forgotten and goes crazy shopping. Then she immerses herself in work, earning a promotion. And she admits that she has never cried over the loss. Even fifteen years later. She found groups to be full of “cry babies," books to be tedious and therapy unimportant since her physician keeps doubling her Prozac dose, so why the need? Never mind that she can no longer stay in a relationship. Everyone looks the other way when mysterious injuries on concealed places on her body appear, and she can’t get to sleep at night without having several cocktails. Denial. Now, the hurdle of facing her mother’s death seems impossible to leap.

This true story of two sisters is my story, me being sister number one. So I say let the experience flood.  Flood away. Unbelievably, it’s a healing thing, and you won’t regret the work you’ve done. 

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