Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recovering From the Shock Of Suicide

Losing a close friend to suicide is like having the fabric of one's life torn open without warning. It is a shocking loss, a bitter and horrific loss. What could be more disruptive to the normal trajectory of life?

Having lost a friend to homicide (by police) in 2001 and now a friend to suicide in 2009, there is a continuum of grief and mourning along which I continue to travel. Ironically, it is only quite recently that I feel I've made significant progress in accepting and coming to terms with my friend's 2001 murder, so perhaps I have been handed this newest challenge in order to further sharpen my skills of recovery.

Suicide, that most self-centered of acts, removes a person's physical presence in a sudden, unexpected and brutal way. This self-inflicted disappearance sends ripples---or perhaps shockwaves---throughout multiple communities and layers of relationships, and each individual impacted by the news must grapple with their own messy constellation of feelings, be it guilt, remorse, anger, disbelief, shock, or any number of normal reactions in reaction to an abnormal circumstance.

For myself, I question what I said or didn't say, what I did or didn't do, the invitations not offered, the times I gave up or pulled back. I used the word "brutal" in the previous paragraph for a reason, in order to more fully illustrate the painful significance of a suicide in relation to those left behind. It is indeed a brutal reality when the phone rings and the news that a close friend has taken his own life is communicated across the ethers. It is gut-wrenching and maddeningly brutal, a harsh slap in the face, an iron fist to the solar plexus. It is exhausting.

For those of us left in the wake of suicide, it is a process of recovery and acceptance, and we do what we can to make it through the days in the wake of unwelcome news that painfully and irrevocably changes our lives.
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