There is no way to ease the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. But maybe getting a tiny glimpse into what they were feeling and could never tell you, what they lived with everyday, might help some people find peace knowing that the person they loved, the person they miss so much, isn’t suffering anymore. It works for some and not for others. I hope this helps someone.
What does the pain of depression feel like? Here are a couple of unique perspectives…
“When you try to help I will push you away. When you try to hug me, I will cringe in real physical pain because the emotional pain of hating myself is too intense. When you tell me you love me and want me to get better I will hate myself more because I know that with every passing second, I am hurting you more which makes me feel worse about myself. When you ask me what I want to do I will cry because I can’t even put two thoughts together. When you ask me if I would like to go for a walk, go to a movie or go out to eat I will shrug and try to comply, but only to make you feel better. What I really want is for you to make decisions for me but I cannot tell you that.”
– How to Help Someone with Depression, Jennifer Wilson
“The body is bone-weary; there is no will; nothing is that is not an effort, and nothing at all seems worth it. Sleep is fragmented, elusive, or all-consuming. Like an unstable gas, an irritable exhaustion seeps into every crevice of thought and action.”
– Night Falls Fast, Kay Redfield Jamison
“Initially, I had days when I was intensely irritable with my family and suffered from episodes of anxiety and tension headaches. I put these down to the long hours I was working and a full social life at the time. Then driving down the motorway one day I decided it would be appropriate for me to crash the car and end my life. This was the start of very strong suicidal thoughts and impulses that would pop into my head unbidden and needed real mental energy to resist acting them out.
In the meantime I was also having difficulty working, at times literally dragging a deeply fatigued body and an equally befuddled brain into the consultation, managing by treating one person at a time, rather than look at a whole fully-booked surgery. On other days I found work a useful distractor from the milder symptoms of my depression. Then again, at other times I was full of energy, enjoyed patient contact and was continually looking round for extra things for myself and the family to do.” Read more…
– On madness: a personal account of rapid cycling bipolar disorder, Anonymous
These insights don’t take the pain away. Rationalizations don’t bring the person back. But they might, just might, help someone reconcile that all-consuming sense of loss with some sense of peace and hope that the person who they loved, who they still love and miss terribly, is finally free.
And if you know someone suffering from the devastating loss, someone left in the wake of suicide, don’t tell them it will get better. Don’t tell them it will be okay. Don’t tell them this too shall pass. It will never be okay the way it was, it will be okay different. The pain will never be better pain, just softer, duller pain. It will never pass, it will just hurt less frequently and less severely.
If you don’t know what to say, don’t rattle off those useless and often hurtful quips. Don’t be silent and say nothing. Don’t run away and avoid the person. Just ask them, “How are you doing today?” That’s it. And when they tell you, for the love of God don’t tell them you understand unless you actually do. Just be there for them. And be grateful that your loved ones are alive today.