Saturday is International Survivors of Suicide Day. I am posting this early in case somebody wants to attend the conferences mentioned at the end.
I am a survivor of suicide. No, that does not mean I tried to take my life and didn't succeed; it means I lost a loved one to suicide, my son Henry.
All of us who have lost a loved one - no matter how - experience a lot of the same emotions: sadness; grief; loss; despair and anger, yes, anger.
For survivors of suicide there are a couple of extra emotions, though: shame and guilt. After talking to a few people just recently who lost as loved one as well, I have come to realize that maybe people aren't necessarily judging you or your loved one after a suicide; they just simply don't know what to say (a simple "I am so sorry for your loss" is sufficient), so maybe the shame is unnecessary.
The guilt, though, remains, even to this day - more than 4 years later. I don't kick myself quite so hard any longer, but I still ask the "what did I miss?," "what if" and "if only" questions. Why didn't I understand what was going on? I saw something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.
One more thing that is different for survivors is the need to know, and I believe that's the same for anybody who has lost a loved one unexpectedly, violently. For me, it was an important part of the healing process, trying to find out as much as I could about what had gone on in Henry's life, what he had been doing, who he had hung with. Unfortunately (and most likely understandably), most of the people he spent his time with towards the end were reluctant if not downright unwilling to talk to me or answer my questions. That means there are still holes I would like to have filled. But I realize that I may never get answers to those and, as times goes by, it gets easier to live with those unanswered questions.
I assume all of those questions will always be there along with the feeling of loss and that big hole in my life.
As always, the AFPS has information on conferences, both online and in various locations around the world and helpful info for survivors.