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Archive for the ‘anger in suicide survivors’ Category

“Angry feelings [in suicide survivors] may exist toward the deceased, oneself, or others,” state clinical scholars John Jordan and John McIntosh. (Grief After Suicide. New York: Routledge, 2011, p.31). “The reactions of many (though not all) suicide survivors resemble the intense anger of homicide survivors toward the perpetrator. This anger may, of course, be made more complicated after suicide, considering that the ‘perpetrator’ is also the ‘victim.'”

To say that anger after the suicide of a loved one “may” be more complicated is understating, at least for those who feel anger. My youngest daughter has said she never felt angry toward her sister Mary for taking her own life, and my mother also said she’d not gotten angry with Mary. I eventually came to believe them on that point, but it took me a few years.

It’s probably that my own anger toward Mary was so fierce I couldn’t imagine others not sharing it. It’s been called rage, actually–this anger that suicide surviors often feel. Part of it stems from the sense of rejection, abandonment, and accusation that lingers no matter how many well-meaning people say, “Let it go.” (Christopher Lukas and Henry Seiden. Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide. London: Jason Aaronson, Inc., 1997, p. 56)

In my case, part of the anger also came from Mary’s inability–or what seemed at the time refusal–to grasp the wonder of her own life. While I now can empathize with her and understand better what she was thinking on the night she died, it took a dozen years for that empathy and understanding to arrive.

What complicates grief after suicide is that the “perpetrator” is also the “victim.” As Mary’s mother, I know this to be true. I would alternate between anger toward her and compassion for her, sometimes twice within a ten-minute span. But I also know there’s more than one victim in a suicide–all the caring people left behind–and that vicitimization by suicide is a source of justifiable anger.

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