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Posts Tagged ‘features of suicide bereavement’

Suicide bereavement often includes the following features: a sense of abandonment and rejection, feelings of shame and stigma, a desire to conceal the cause of death, a tendency to blame others, and an increased self-destructiveness or suicidality (John R. Jordan and John L. McIntosh, Eds. Grief After Suicide: Understanding the Consequences and Caring for the Survivors. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, 2011, pp. 30-31).

In my experience as a survivor of my daughter Mary’s suicide in 1995, I did feel abandoned and rejected by her for several years. I also felt accused. It was as though Mary was telling everyone I hadn’t done enough for her. And really, how was I going to deny the truth in that?

Owing to the immediate support my family received from our Catholic faith community, however, the shame and stigma of my daughter’s death was not a prominent part of my bereavement. In fact, even while members of the rescue squad were trying to revive Mary, I decided not to hide the fact that she had overdosed on her anti-depressant medication. When a neighbor asked, “What happened?” I told him the truth, believing that the truth would bring the help we needed. And it did.   

Mary’s psychiatrist joined my husband and me in the emergency waiting room, lamenting her misjudgment regarding the state of my daughter’s mental health. My husband would not allow the psychiatrist to blame herself, though, and I tried to follow his lead. Inevitably, I did end up blaming the psychiatrist, my husband, and myself for my daughter’ s suicide. Blaming is a normal part of suicide bereavement, I have come to see, but it did eventually fade away.    

As for the increased risk of self-destructiveness following a suicide, I understand a bereaved person’s desire to die. But in my grief, the desire to die was countered by hard-won awareness of the devastation another suicide would inflict. I never considered taking my own life, though I could see that people were concerned I might be thinking about it.   

 

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