I joined a grief support group for survivors of suicide that I found through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention web site. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the group, I cannot write about what we discussed. What I can tell you is that the group was intense, and that I feel a strong connection to these people, these fellow survivors. Even as I took the elevator up to our first meeting, I remember thinking: “This can’t really be happening. My brother isn’t really dead, is he?” Twelve weeks into this grief, it still doesn’t feel real much of the time. Which means the truth can still knock the wind out of me on a regular basis.
I like talking to my parents about Mike, even if it’s often the same conversation. We talk about what was going on in Mike’s life right before he died, and how the irrationality of his decision to end his life is evidence of his mental illness. “It was the depression that killed him.” I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child. What they are going through is at a completely different level than my grief. If anything happened to my daughter, I don’t think I could survive it. I am in awe at their strength.
It seems like I hear about suicide everywhere now. I have met several people who, like me, are grieving recent suicides of loved ones. I have heard about a couple of acquaintances that have committed suicide recently. And I’ve heard about it on the news. (Just today: Michael Blosil, Andrew Koenig.) We don’t think about depression as an epidemic, as life or death, but now I see it all around me.
I don’t have the solution for all this depression, anxiety, loneliness, and grief. If you have a mind that tells you to cure for loneliness is isolation, there is safety in numbers. Grief is a lonely process, but you don’t need to be alone.