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Experiences of Traumatic Loss - all of the questions

Along with the shock of losing a loved one to suicide, comes a flurry of questions – why did they do it? Why didn’t they ask for help? How could have this been prevented?

These questions are a normal part of the grief process for a tragedy such as this. But the frustration comes when you have so many questions and get little to no answers. There are many unknowns when stepping into the realm of suicide because we are asking to understand what was going in someone else’s mind. Someone else, who is no longer with us. Often, we put the pieces together as best as we can, with it never feeling like it’s enough.

For months, after my ex-husband’s suicide I ran scenarios in my head. For some reason he called me right as he was killing himself. That moment has played in my head countless times. The scenarios that played in my mind following his death were mostly rescue scenarios – but the fact of the matter is that I don’t know why he called me, I don’t know what state his mind was in or what he really wanted. That includes the fact he may very well have wanted to die and not be rescued. That’s been one bitter pill for me to swallow. Even all of these years later, I still ask questions and wonder, could I have been in the position to stop him?

The task with this type of loss Is to not only grieve but get comfortable with never ending questions. My solution formed in the shape of surrender. Surrendering all of the questions to the universe around you at those moments when you feel you need answers. Visualize a basket, put all the questions, memories, pain, confusion, and bitterness in there and offer it up. All of it. Then take a deep breath and picture letting go of the basket. Watch it float up into the universe.

This is a part of a mindfulness strategy that is needed so the trauma and grief don’t take over your life. As you learn how your mind and body react to the loss, you can also learn how to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion that allows for healing, even if it is in the form of surrender. Self-compassion and self-care can be your companions on this journey.

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