National Survivors of Suicide Day is this Saturday November 21st. It is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Senator Harry Reid championed the recognition of this day in 1999. He is a survivor of his father’s suicide.
For the most part no one’s heard of this day… which is good. I never heard of it until a suicide loss impacted me personally.
Many of us who are in this “club” find this day helpful and hopeful. For some it’s the first time they engage in an event specifically related to suicide awareness/prevention/postvention. That can be very intimidating. Openly acknowledging and sharing about our loved one can leave us feeling vulnerable, fragile. We may leave the event sad or a bit shaken up. When we return home or to work we find caring friends saying, “You shouldn’t have gone – it just upset you.” We wonder, are they right? I am very upset, on edge and weepy. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone? Or maybe I just went too soon after my loss? We question and we doubt our decisions because we feel bad. Real bad.
I have found learning to befriend – for lack of a better word – my sorrow has been a lifesaver on this grief journey. I instinctively want to run from feeling sad but I’ve learned sometimes I simply have no choice. I cannot go around my grief, I must go through it. And going through it means learning when to sit in it; when to have an outward time of release like a tree planting or a balloon release; when to be with fellow survivors; when to go see a movie that makes me laugh.
Everyone’s journey is their own. There is no right or wrong. And sometimes leaning into the sadness is necessary.