Surviving a Loved One’s Suicide: An Afternoon of Support & Connection

This was a three-hour workshop I attended, hosted and presented by WinterSpring, a nonprofit center for support for grief and loss in Ashland, Oregon. In the beginning we lit electronic candles for those we were remembering. For the first time, besides my first wife, I also listed the loss of a close friend I knew while living in San Francisco and a high school friend who went to the same college I did. Later I realized I had neglected to mention my niece.
The amazing thing that the workshop did was to validate and normalize the experiences people were having. Some with recent loss came into the afternoon complaining of being told that they were wearing out their support system or that they had mourned long enough and should get back to living their lives. They learned from the sharing of others that these were quite familiar responses from even the most well-meaning of friends and family. All loss is unique to the situations. Loss by suicide can be particularly complex and, while each person’s path is their own, there is the real possibility of getting stuck in the trauma. Connecting with people who have been through it can make a huge difference.

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