Before last Sunday, I had never lost someone I knew to suicide. But I got the call around 9:10 pm, while my daughter was watching Taylor Swift sing at the Covid-Grammy's. My first reaction was exactly as they say: I didn't believe it. It was a family member, but someone I wasn't terribly close to. Someone I never thought of as - gosh, anything but respected, adored, brilliant and successful. All of those are true, or were true, but in addition, this person was struggling with a variety of deep mental/emotional issues, and actually was keeping those secret from the people who were closest.
This is a deep shock to the family, and the hurt is very real, and thus, I am going to keep the details quiet for now. I immediately emailed my friend at the AFSP, Brett Wean, (you've met him - here!) and asked for his advice. He wrote: "There's nothing I can say that will make anything easier. Similarly along those lines, I would suggest that you not try to fix anything. It can't be fixed. Healing will just have to happen over time, with the right support. Just be there for your family as they're experiencing their grief -- be willing to sit there and listen, and let them know you're there to do so."
Hearing that was a big help because honestly, I couldn't think of anything else to do.
When I first started on my writing journey, I found a wonderful woman, writer, mentor in Nancy Slonim Aronie. Today, I share a column she wrote recently called Hello, my name is Grief. I guess the truth of it is that the only way to get through grief is to grieve. There are no shortcuts.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, please contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Find local chapters here. If you are yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, same thing.
We're so close to spring, everyone. Hang in there.