WARNING Signs of Suicide

By: Dr Mike Shery

Suicide is among the scariest words in our language; it inspires an immediate horror among the family and friends of the victim. People frequently experience a gut-wrenching dread, denial, shock, fear … and even guilt.

It is a word so charged with universal dread, guilt and burning emotion that people will avoid talking about it almost at all costs. It has become an intractable taboo.

We must discuss it, however, because the statistics are staggering: In 2001 suicide was the 11th ranked cause of death in the United States, but shockingly, it was the third leading cause of death for 10-23 year olds.

One group in the United Kingdom which provides confidential emotional support for those suffering from a crisis estimates that more than 100,000 people attempt suicide each year there. And, of these attempts, over 6,500 will eventually succeed.

Even worse, some estimate that as many as 20% of those who suffer from bipolar disorder will succeed in killing themselves. NOTE: One out of every five!

It has also been estimated that as many as 50% of all bipolar patients may attempt suicide at least once in their lives. This appalling figure shows the urgency required to properly screen, diagnose and treat the suicide-prone patient.

Therefore, it is as clear as a flashing neon sign that suicide is not something to be cavalierly ignored; it is not going away. As socially responsible family members and friends, each of us must make a commitment to be aware of the warnings signs of suicide-prone despair.

We must do our duty by being prepared to help a friend or family member in crisis. But to do so, we must be able to identify that cry for help for what it is-desperation and not be quick to cavalierly trivialize it.

Please note the following warning signs and red flags. You may just save the life of a loved one.

Situational Red Flags

1. Victim of Sexual, Emotional or Verbal Abuse
2. Sudden or Unexpected Death of a Loved One
3. A Terminal Illness Accompanied by Drastic Deterioration in Quality of Life
4. Sudden Detrimental Change in Financial Status
5. A Condition of Chronic Debilitating Pain with No Relief in Sight
6. Talk about the Possibility of Suicide
7. Extraordinary Withdrawal or Sullen Behavior
8. Traumatic Loss or Disintegration of a Relationship

Emotional Signs

1. Depression
2. Feelings of Futility
3. Oppressive Feelings of Guilt
4. Pervasive Melancholia or Sadness
5. Feelings of Hopelessness or Helplessness
6. Overwhelming Gloom

Recovering from Depression!

Sometimes as a person begins to recover from a depressive episode the possibility of a suicide attempt may increase. This may happen because when a person finally makes up his mind to actually kill himself, he sometimes becomes oddly resigned and at peace with the situation; his mood can begin to elevate slightly.

Also, the depressive lethargy may start to lift, and where a person may not have been able to find the energy to carry out suicidal plans before, he now may have it. However, regardless of the reason, this can be a very crucial stage.

Behavioral Red Flags

1. Hoarding Prescription Drugs which Can be Lethal when taken En Masse
2. Obtaining Possession of a Weapon
3. Overt Attempts to Bring Closure to Personal or Business Issues
4. Sudden Attention to Ones Will
5. Increased Reading or Conversation about Suicide
6. Gifting Away Personal Belongings
7. Reconciling with those who are Estranged
8. Sudden Interest or Attention in Ones Insurance Policy
9. Excessive Withdrawal or Isolation from Others

Thoughts and Comments to Note

1. I wish I had never been born
2. This life is a pile of crap.
3. I wonder what the best way to kill yourself would be.
4. My kids are the only thing I live for.
5. I can not see any way to get out of this mess.
6. Nothing ever gets any better
7. Nothing is worth living for.
8. I just do not care about anything anymore.

Of course, none of these signs by themselves are absolute proof that someone you know may be considering suicide. Any of these may be present individually, and a person still may have given little or no thought to suicide.

However, if any clusters of these are present take particularly strong note.

It is also possible that a person may give little, if any, warning of thoughts of impending suicide and still attempt it.

So, how can you be sure? Ask directly. Share your observations tactfully and honestly. Be open to talking about this with your loved one.

Is it awkward? It certainly can be, but even more important, it could save the life of someone you love.

About the Author:

Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He’s an expert marriage counselor and psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appointment or learn more about counseling at: http://www.nextdayappointment.com

Mourning – The Expression of Grief

By: Sharon Young

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary grief is defined as “intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc.; acute sorrow; deep sadness.” Mourning is the expression of grief.

We usually think of grief as affecting our feelings and emotions, but it really affects every part of us. We may feel things such as shock, anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, loneliness, helplessness, depression, confusion, overwhelming emotional pain, feeling empty or lost… Physically we may experience numbness, shortness of breath, a heaviness or tightness in the chest, fatigue, headaches, muscle tension…

We may not be able to sleep or concentrate on anything. We may have no interest in what is going on around us or in things that previously were very important to us. We may over-react or be hypersensitive and feel out of control. We may cry and cry or feel nothing at all and show no emotion. We may want to be alone or feel afraid to be alone. We may feel like we need to run away from it all or even the need to attack someone or something.

One of our first responses to loss is to search for a cause or anything that might offer just a hint of explanation or justification or meaning that might help us in dealing with grief. This search sometimes causes us to question our faith in God and our religious beliefs, adding to the turmoil and grief that the loss already thrust upon us.

The death of loved ones is the most difficult loss to recover from. All our dreams and plans with or for them come to nothing, leaving us feeling empty and forlorn. We feel as if a big, clumsy, fiendish claw has thrust itself deep into our vital organs and callously ripped a chunk out of us, leaving a ragged hole that we can’t imagine will ever heal.

We all react to grief and loss differently and process it in our own way and time. However, there’s one key element that is required of all of us if we want to recover from our loss. The key element in working successfully through the grieving process is action. Simply sitting back and waiting for time to heal our deep sadness and intense emotional suffering brought about by loss or death is not enough.

Mourning is a process in which we take action to define and process the pain of our loss, seek effective ways to respond to it, adjust to our new reality, reconstruct our lives and eventually heal.

Mourning begins with the simple action of acknowledging and expressing our pain. Job provides an example of the mourning process. Just like all of us he was busy with the day to day routines of his life-business, family, friends, religious, and community duties and responsibilities. Sure, he was aware of the risks of living where he did. He knew there were violent gangs and rustlers who attacked and stole ranchers’ herds from time to time. He knew violent wind and lightning storms caused destruction and death sometimes. He may even have personally experienced loss from these things or from drought or floods or infestation of destructive insects at some point in his career. Illness, disease and death were regular occurrences in his life as in ours. He just didn’t expect them to happen to him and certainly not all at once!

And when it happened to him, Job reacted just like you and I do. He grieved.

“Why didn’t I die at birth?” Job groaned in his intense pain. “If I had I’d be at peace now. Why does God prolong my miserable life when I long for death? I have no peace or rest-only troubles and worries. It’s impossible to weigh my misery and grief! They outweigh the sand along the beach…” (Job 3; Job 6:2,3) “Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer?” (Job 7:1)

Job was bombarded with conflicting thoughts and feelings. Like his friends, Job had always believed that sinners suffered trouble and hardships, but those who loved and obeyed God were spared. Job was confident that he had no sin on his slate that remained unconfessed. He was careful to never do anything that would offend God, but knowing no one is perfect he regularly offered sin and guilt offerings to atone for each sin, both known and unknown. So what was going on? Was God unfair? Why was he being treated like a sinner when he knew he was blameless and in right standing with God? Was everything he believed to be true about God, not true after all? God was his friend. But why was God suddenly treating him like an enemy?

He began to question God, and demand an explanation. He felt very confident that God was wrong. He examined and honestly voiced his troubling questions and looked for answers.

“I am sick of life! And from deep despair, I complain to you, my God. Don’t just condemn me! Point out my sin. You have not explained all of your mysteries, but you catch and punish me each time I sin. Guilty or innocent, I am condemned and ashamed because of my troubles. Sometimes I try to be cheerful and to stop complaining, but my sufferings frighten me, because I know that God still considers me guilty. So what’s the use of trying to prove my innocence? God isn’t a mere human like me. I can’t put him on trial. Who could possibly judge between the two of us?” (Job 10:1,2; 10:13thru15; 9:27thru29, 32thru33)

“Leave me alone and let me die; my life has no meaning. Why am I your target and such a heavy burden? Why do you refuse to forgive?” Job 7:16, 20thru21

Then…

From out of a storm the Lord said to Job: “Why do you talk so much when you know so little? Now get ready to face me! Can you answer the questions I ask? How did I lay the foundation for the earth? Were you there? Did you ever tell the sun to rise? And did it obey? Can you arrange stars in groups such as Orion and the Pleiades? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper… I am the Lord All-Powerful, but you have argued that I am wrong. Now you must answer me. Are you trying to prove that you are innocent by accusing me of injustice?” (Job 38:1thru4, 12, 31thru32; 40:1, 8)

Job said to the Lord: “Who am I to answer you? I did speak once or twice, but never again. No one can oppose you, because you have the power to do what you want. I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding. You told me to listen and answer your questions. I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 39:3thru5; 41:1thru6)

In his mourning process, Job defined and boldly expressed his feelings and thoughts. He looked to God as he sought answers and effective ways to respond to his grief and loss. Experiencing God for himself helped him begin to adjust to his new reality. With his new, enlightened view of God he could reconstruct his life and heal.

God is bigger than our pain, disappointment, doubt, fear – and everything else we can throw at Him. I encourage you, my friend, to include God as you take action to process and express your grief so you can reconstruct your life and heal.

About the Author:

Sharon Young is a dedicated mom and wife with a deep desire to discover who God is and how to navigate this life guided by His truth. Mourning Glory, A Devotional for Grieving is a book for struggling through a loss and looking for comfort.

Good Stages of Grief?

By: Ann Estlund

Most widows go through a crazy emotional rollercoaster as they move from one stage to another. One moment they are flying high and the next they are sinking morosely into a pit. They can be on level ground one minute, but the next may find them perching warily on a high wire or chugging up a hill and churning up a pot of steam, ready to blow at the first turn.

Looking back on my own years of grief, and writing articles, a book* and two websites** about it, I believe that each stage of grief has both plusses and minuses. It may take widows a long time to appreciate the plusses, but it could help us to know they are there. Just as it helped to know we were expected to go through stages in grief, it may help to see some of its long-range benefits.

Shock. Almost every widow goes through Shock or Numbness. I felt like I was inside a bubble, looking out at others who performed various tasks for me…phone calls, travel arrangements, meal planning, appointments, decision-making. Even inside that bubble I hurt so much that I couldn’t imagine I was being spared some of grief’s worst wounds. Later I understood.

Both immediate Shock and the die-hard stage of Denial cushion us from too much reality too fast. If these stages lasted too long, we would have major problems; but in smaller doses they provide brief emotional vacations when we really need them. The same is true of another stage I recognized several times in my own grief. I call it “Cockiness,” the pleasant feeling when we swell with pride at how well we are doing. We just know we have licked this thing called grief. “That wasn’t so bad,” we think, right before we fall off another cliff.

Grief is hard work, and it must be done, but brief respites from the dismal pain are therapeutic. I call them “practice sessions,” or “previews of better times ahead,” for when we are healed and walking among normal people. The downside of these “emotional vacations” is that they may be falsely interpreted by our friends and relatives. They may think we are healed and no longer need their tender loving care.

Depression can be the deepest stage of grief, dragging us down into a pit of self doubt and loss of spirit. Knowing it was an expected stage helped me to endure its downside more easily, but it didn’t make it fun. The upside of depression, which is really hard to appreciate until years later, is that this stage–more than any other–seems to provide the most opportunity for self examination and personal growth. It’s the caldron in which we learn that we are strong and we can survive.

Anxiety is a tough stage, and it can hang on interminably, especially for those on their own for the first time. It can build to a crescendo, a panic attack, such as one I had when I thought I was dying of the same thing my husband did. Most widows have one or several of these. I asked the doctor for a few anxiety pills to keep on hand for crises. Left unchecked, panic attacks can grow into agoraphobia…the fear of being outside or of leaving the house. We don’t want that to happen. Anxiety can also play havoc with our health, so, what is the upside of Anxiety? Well, not much…but to stretch it a bit, it does keep us alert so we know what’s going on…and it feels really good when it’s over.

I said a hundred times, “I could never get angry at Bruce for dying!” And then I did, with a vengeance! “How dare he leave me to do all this stuff!” We all go through Anger, and we can lose the support of friends and family if we aren’t careful. Can there be any benefits in it? Yes, it’s a sign we are facing reality head on, breaking through some of that Denial muck, and also we are clearing the air, getting rid of some old baggage around us.

With most Anger comes Guilt! Guilt for thinking of ourselves instead of our late mates. Some widows may have real reasons to feel guilty; most do not. Regardless, work on guilt, with a counselor or therapist if it is serious. So, how can it have an upside? Sometimes analyzing guilt feelings can help in understanding the differences we had with our husbands. I, for example, realized I felt guilty for often overlooking Bruce’s many good points and nagging him about things that simply did not matter.

Think of these grief benefits as the “little bits of sugar that help the medicine go down.”

About the Author:

Annie Estlund is the author of the handbook, For Widows Only. Visit her Web site to learn more about her support group for widows.

What are the Differences Between Anxiety and Depression?

By James Lowrance

Anxiety and depression have a lot of similarities and some are even of the opinion that these are the same type fear-emotions, that simply manifest differently in different people.

When you look at a list of symptoms for each, there are indeed a great deal of similarities. Both can manifest with feelings of hopelessness, agitation, feeling withdrawn, fatigue, lack of ambition, inability to enjoy things that used to bring pleasure, fear of the future, inability to cope with stressful situations, etc…

It is also true that anxiety and depression often co-exist, in fact persons with actual anxiety disorders almost always have a degree of depression, along with it and persons with clinical depression also commonly have co-existing anxiety.

So what would be considered some major distinguishing features of each? The fact is, many times they are not easily distinguishable, in fact many Doctors, such as MDs, that are not also psychiatrists or psychologists, many times find it difficult to distinguish them, so many times will diagnose a patient with common emotional manifestations, as described above, as a combination of both anxiety and depression.

One Anxiety Disorder that is more so a mix of both anxiety and depression, than the other Anxiety Disorders, is “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”. With this type anxiety, patients commonly experience a mix of both anxiety and depression. They may at times have stronger manifestations of depression and at other times, stronger manifestations of anxiety, while at other times, they are both about even in manifestation.

So what would be a major distinguishing feature of each, that helps us to recognize the difference between the two? A major distinguishing feature of depression, that is often listed as one of it’s major symptoms, is “profound sadness”. Anxiety sufferers, sometimes have spells of emotion, that causes them to have crying spells etc.., but it is not the same profound sadness that is more chronically severe with depression. Anxiety sufferers on the other hand, have as a major feature of it, the “fear emotion”, which can be the bewildering type, such as severe anxiety attacks or panic attacks or can be the chronic lingering type, that manifests as severe worry and apprehension.

The chronic worry aspect of anxiety, is what is most often mistakenly referred to as depression, when it is actually a fear emotion; fear of the future, fear about health, finances etc…, and though it is not in the depression category, can result in depression, due to the prolonged periods of stress it causes.

To better illustrate this, let’s look at a couple of example scenarios. In the first one, we have a man, with a very important business meeting coming up. In this meeting, he will be required to convince the heads of his company, that his past accomplishments, merit him a promotion to a more important, advanced position with the firm. The meeting is two weeks away and yet the man has such hopes in doing well at the meeting, that he worries himself sick, during the entire two weeks leading up to the meeting. Family or friends observing his period of chronic worry, might make the remark; “He sure has been depressed these past two weeks.” The fact is, the man was experiencing a manifestation of anxiety, called chronic worry, being triggered by a fear of failure.

In a second example scenario, we have a woman who does lose a long held position she had with a prestigious firm. This causes her to sink into a deep feeling of profound loss, that she feels she cannot recoup from. She has continual feelings of sadness and has constant crying spells. An observer remarks; “She has just been a bundle of nerves since losing her job and she’s really going through an anxious time right now.” In reality, the woman’s experience is more so in the depression category because she is experiencing profound sadness over losing her long held position.

While we may be able to better place these examples of emotional scenarios into either the anxiety or depression categories, we also realize that both of these people very likely also experienced aspects of the other emotion as well. Again, this demonstrates how closely related these emotions are and how they often co-exist and can also fuel each other, causing worsening symptoms of each.

Thankfully, there are treatments, that help both emotional disorders simultaneously, such as SSRI Antidepressants, that are designed to help patients with both anxiety and depression, or either of them. There are also treatments, such as “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”, that offers coping and overcoming skills, for both anxiety and depression.

People experiencing these common emotional disorders and the family, friends and associates of these patients, should be aware of how commonly these disorders co-exist but should also learn about the major features, that help distinguish them.

Author’s Bio:

Age: 44
Diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with co-ocurring anxiety symptoms,in 2003. I created the “JimLow’s Audios” website in early 2006, to help inform other patients about these and other disorders.

Sending Presents To Heaven

By Donna Webster

It had been six months ago today that ten-year-old Emily’s mom had made her way to Heaven. Emily missed her mom each and every day, but what she was most worried about today is how she can find a way to send her birthday gift to her mom in Heaven. She had two weeks to find the perfect gift and she set out on a journey asking everyone she knew if they could help her figure out a way to send her gift up to Heaven.

The first person she asked was her dad. Still grief stricken himself over his wife’s sudden death, he was not prepared for what Emily was about to ask him. “Daddy I have an important question for you.” “What is it pumpkin?” “Mom’s birthday is almost here and I need to know how I can send her gift up to Heaven?”

He couldn’t think of an answer to give his precious daughter and with tears in his eyes he told her he needed a little time to think about it. “Okay dad, but don’t wait to long I only have two weeks to get my gift ready and I don’t want mom to think that I forgot her birthday.” Although she loved her dad and knew he would try as hard as he could to help her, Emily decided to go ahead and ask a few other people if they could help her send her gift to Heaven.

The next person she decided to ask was her teacher at school. Surely her teacher would know how to help her. Teachers know everything that’s why they’re teachers. As soon as school was over the next day she stayed after and told her teacher that she needed to ask her a question. “Miss Johnson, I have a question for you.” “What is it Emily?” “My mom’s birthday is in two weeks and I need to find a way to send my birthday gift to her up in Heaven.” “Can you help me?” Miss Johnson prided herself on always being able to help the children and answer all of their questions, but she had never been asked a question like this.

She didn’t want to disappoint little Emily, but how could she answer a question like this? “Did you ask your dad about this Emily?” “Yes, and he said that he needed a little time to think about it.” “I’m sure he will be able to help you Emily and I am honored that you asked me, but I think that it would be better if someone in your family helped you figure this out.”

Seeing the disappointment in Emily’s eyes as she walked away tugged at her heart, so she decided to call her back. “Emily, I just thought of something.” “What is it Miss Johnson?” “Is there anyone else who was close to your mom that might be able to help you?” Emily thought about it for a moment and said, “I have my Aunt Tracy.”

“My mom, Aunt Tracy and I used to have a girl’s day out every Saturday” “Is she your mom’s sister Emily?” “Yes,why do you ask?” “I think that she would be the perfect person to help you out.” “She grew up with your mom and I’m sure they were very close to one another.” “You’re right Miss Johnson, Aunt Tracy would be able to help,I know she will.” Emily was so excited she gave Miss Johnson a hug and ran out the door as fast as her little feet would take her.

As soon as her dad picked her up from school Emily asked her dad to take her to her Aunt Tracy’s house so she could ask her to help her send her gift to her mom. Her dad still didn’t have an answer for Emily, so he dropped her off and told her he would be back to pick her up in an hour. “Thanks Dad, I know you wanted to help me, but I hope it’s okay with you that I ask Aunt Tracy.” “It’s fine pumpkin,I know your Aunt Tracy was very close with your mom, I’m sure she will know exactly how to reach your mom.”

“Aunt Tracy, Aunt Tracy, I need your help.” “What is it Emily, what’s wrong.” “Well,you know mom’s birthday is in two weeks and I need to find a way to send my present to her in Heaven.” “Can you help me?” “Please Aunt Tracy, you’re my last hope.” “Do you have your present with you Emily?” “No, I haven’t decided what to get mom yet, but I knew you would be able to help me pick out the perfect gift for mom.” “Come sit down Emily and we will figure this out together.”

After what seemed like an eternity, Aunt Tracy finally had an answer for her beautiful little niece. “Emily, you know your mom loved you more then anything right?” “Yes Aunt Tracy, she told me everyday how much she loved me.” “Well, I think that the best gift you can give her is not a gift that you need to go out and buy.” “I think that the best present that you could give your mom is a little piece of you.” “How can I do that Aunt Tracy?”

“Well every night before you go to bed try to remember something really special that you and your mom did together.” “That’s easy Aunt Tracy I have millions and trillions of special things that mom and I did together.” “But how can that be a present for mom, and how can I send it up to her in Heaven?” “It’s easy Emily, when you say your prayers each night concentrate really hard on a happy thought of you and your mom, and ask God to take that happy thought up to Heaven for you.”

“Will he really do that Aunt Tracy?” “Of course Emily.” “God hears all your prayers and nothing would make him happier then to be able to take those special thoughts and deliver them in person to your mom.” “So my mom will really get my happy thoughts?” “Yes Emily and your mom will be watching over you every day, and the best present you could ever give her is to remember all the special times you had together, and the love you shared will fly up to her each night on an angels wings.”

“The best part is it doesn’t even have to be her birthday, you can do this every night.” “Thanks Aunt Tracy, this means my mom will have presents every day.” “I’m going to go home tonight and start sending my presents to her.”

As a tear rolled down Aunt Tracy’s eye, she told Emily that her mom would be the happiest mom up in Heaven. As Emily wrapped her arms around her aunt to say thank you, she whispered in her ear. “Mom will also be the happiest sister in Heaven,” and she told Aunt Tracy not to forget to send her happy thoughts up to Heaven to.

Author’s Bio:

I’m an inspirational writer who has overcome adversity with chronic illness and found the gift of writing because of what I have faced. I’ve learned many lessons along the way and my goal is to empower and inspire women and chidren all over the world. I run an online bath and body shop http://www.divinedivadelights.com where I honor the Divine Diva in every woman. My products feature inspirational names and positive messages that I hope will inspire, empower, and help build self esteem in women and young girls. My goal with everthing I do is to touch as many lives as I can and I hope I have done that for you with this story.

The Practicalities of Coping with A Suicide

By Lucie Storrs

Your tears have not yet dried. You haven’t had time to experience your deep feelings about your loved one’s suicide. In many ways, you’re still in shock. Nevertheless, death, like anything else, has its own practicalities that must be accomplished. You, your family members and your loved one’s friends need closure for the loss and grief they’re feeling.

As if being a suicide survivor isn’t enough, you must also deal with your loved one’s funeral or memorial service, burial or cremation, working with your lawyer about the probate of your loved one’s estate, obtaining a death certificate for insurance purposes, and coping with the sympathy of friends and relatives. Just when you need some time to yourself to process and grieve, you find that you need to be several places at once and multi-task the actions and decisions that must be made. If you have the sole responsibility for these matters, it is indeed a great physical and emotional struggle.

It helps to know exactly what will happen next.

It helps a great deal to know exactly what’s ahead of you instead of not knowing and feeling intensely overwhelmed when every moment of your time is filled with pain and uncertainty. Sometimes you’ll feel like screaming, “Just leave me alone for five minutes!” Nevertheless, when those five minutes have passed, the practicalities of your loved one’s suicide will still be there. Below are some basic practicalities that you will face, and suggestions for coping with them.

* In the majority of US states, if a person does not die in a hospital, an autopsy must be performed to determine the cause and manner of death. Are these two different things? Yes. For example, the cause of your loved one’s death was an overdose of drugs; the manner of death is suicide.

* Wherever your loved one took his/her life is first considered as a crime scene and possible homicide. If the suicide occurred in the home you shared with your loved one, you will be considered as a possible homicide suspect. If death occurred outside the home, the police will handle the location as a crime scene and possible homicide. Either way, the police officers will question you about your loved one’s problems (physical or emotional), and they will ask about your relationship, if you knew your loved one was suicidal, and other relevant information.

* It is your right to make no statement of any kind until your legal counsel arrives. It is often said that people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. You’re not attempting to hide anything from law enforcement; you are merely protecting your own rights. Let your legal counsel represent you when you are questioned by the police. Remember, they are doing their job. It isn’t personal, nor does it mean that they suspect you of murder. This is merely the process of legally resolving a suicide.

* Even in the midst of your grief and bereavement, you must make some decisions about the body and burial of your loved one. Unless the deceased left a will that contains specific instructions about these matters, you will need to go to the funeral home to discuss burial vs. cremation, choose a casket or urn, whether you would like the funeral or memorial service at the funeral home, a church, or some other location.

* If your loved one left a will that directs all funeral expenses to be paid out of his or her estate, you should follow these instructions. In the absence of a will, you must make these decisions based upon what you believe your loved one would have wanted.

Somehow, death has its own grapevine. Within a day, your friends, other family members, and members of the community will know that your loved one died, and that suicide was the manner of death. It may feel to you as though this difficult situation is the perfect time for others to listen to you, the bereaved, rather than having to talk, explain, and answer questions about your loved one’s suicide.

Newspaper obituaries are kind in this dilemma. Unless you write the obituary, a news staffer will do this for you and, if you direct, make no mention of suicide; they will write something along the lines of “Mr. Doe died yesterday after a short illness.” You don’t need to have an obituary at all if you choose not to.

Nonetheless, the grapevine will deliver the news at warp speed. Family members, especially those who don’t live in your town, should be called to inform them of your loved one’s suicide. But you don’t have to make those calls. If you feel as if you can’t tell this story just one more minute, ask a family member or friend to make the calls. The caller can inform others about when and where the funeral or memorial service will be, how they can be of help, and answer some simple questions about the suicide. You and/or your helper do not need to go into long details about why your loved one committed suicide, and most people are kind enough not to inquire.

All the small (but essential) details and decisions:

  • If you select burial for your loved one, provide clothes that he or she loved to wear.
  • Ask the mortician to wash and set her hair, and say what type of make up (if any) you would like.
  • Decide if you want your loved one’s casket to be open or closed. The cause of death will play an important part in your decision.
  • Select music for the funeral or memorial service. The funeral home or your church will have many beautiful pieces for you to choose from, or play a piece which your loved one was fond of.
  • If you choose a religious funeral, your minister, rabbi or pastor will work with you in organizing the service and selecting readings from the Bible, the Koran, or other sacred works, a favorite poem or writing. Keep in mind that some religious faiths view suicide as an unpardonable sin against God and may refuse to conduct your loved one’s funeral. In this case, you can always have your own non-denominational service.
  • Your loved one may have had some organizational affiliations. Was he/she a military veteran who is entitled to a military funeral with full honors? If there is no military installation in your community, contact the VFW. Was your loved one a Freemason or a member of the Order of the Eastern Star? If so, contact your town’s Masonic Lodge and request this type of interment. Neither the military nor most community-based philanthropic organizations will refuse to honor your loved one.
  • Decide if you want your loved one’s jewelry (like a wedding ring) to be interred with him/her, or if you want these things as family heirlooms. It is sometimes comforting to know that your loved one was wearing a certain piece of jewelry when he/she died; it’s a reminder that “I didn’t leave you. I simply left.”
  • Inform your lawyer immediately after your loved one’s death by suicide. His or her estate assets should be frozen until a probate court decides otherwise.
  • Obtain a copy of the death certificate; your loved one’s life insurance will not “pay out” without this document. Some insurance companies refuse to pay out for suicide. This is where your lawyer steps in.

Do you wish to have a wake after the interment of your loved one? Only you have the right to make this choice. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into having a wake if you would rather have some “quiet time” with only your immediate family and closest friends. Wakes for those who die from natural causes are fond remembrances; wakes where the deceased committed suicide can be awkward.

It’s OK to lean on the people around you.

So many details! Remember that you have friends, family members and community members who truly wish to help you in this time of grief and bereavement. These are the people who won’t judge or criticize, who won’t talk endlessly when you need to be alone and quiet, and who won’t say or do things that only increase your burden. You are a suicide survivor, not a prisoner of guilt and shame.

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If you feel the need to talk, why not visit The Light Beyond bereavement forum at http://www.thelightbeyond.com/forum, where you will find a caring, increasingly busy and friendly community of people to support you through your grief. You are not alone…

Author’s Bio:

Lucie Storrs is the creator of The Light Beyond bereavement forum, website, grief library, inspirational movie and blog. This project grew out of her own experiences of grief and loss, her desire to help others and love of the Internet as a means for doing so.

“It has never been simpler to reach out and make a difference in the world. I hope that in some small way we help to make your journey through grief a little easier.”

Other Related Links:

Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Suicide: A Study in Sociology

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention

The Search for Meaning When a Loved One Dies

By Louis LaGrand, Ph.D.

Meaning affects everything we do; and equally important it affects the body and its physiology as attested to by the many examples of body-mind relationships, such as the placebo effect. Finding meaning in death is not always easy, and sometimes it is hard to find.

However, the search for meaning when a loved one dies can make a big difference in how you cope with your loss and reinvest in life. The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, put it this way, “Meaning makes a great many things endurable—perhaps everything.”

Searching for meaning is useless early in your grief; first, give yourself much time to express emotion and review the relationship. Eventually, make every effort to find meaning in your loss. Here are seven considerations that have provided meaning for others after the death of a loved one, and that may help you in your own search.

1. Meaning derived from the belief that there is a spirit world. Many people have reported experiences that have convinced them there is a spirit world and an afterlife. The Near-Death Experience (NDE) has occurred to over 8 million people who report going through a tunnel, seeing others who have predeceased them, and a beautiful white light.

Others, who were mourning the death of a loved one, have experienced dreams, visions, and various synchronistic and symbolic events, called Extraordinary Experiences (EEs). These events provided comfort and enough evidence for them to believe their loved ones live on in another existence. This had great influence on the course of their grief work.

2. Meaning derived from celebration of the life that was lived. This may include dedications, memorializations, carrying on a particular tradition, or doing volunteer work in honor of the deceased. Some survivors have started support groups, or supported the newly bereaved in their community depending on their needs.

3. Meaning derived from the belief that there is a heaven and a hell. Many people who are grieving find solace in their beliefs that their loved ones are in heaven with God. Also, many embrace the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, where they can pray to their loved ones, and ask them to intercede to God for them.

4. Meaning derived from the belief that love never dies. Many who receive a contact from a deceased loved one or a divine being interpret it as an act of love. Their love for the deceased continues on as they reinvest in life and establish a new, healthy, but different relationship. To feel loved and to give love when hurting is a little utilized but highly effective coping tool.

5. Meaning derived from the belief that there will some day be a reunion with the deceased. Those who believe in an afterlife, heaven, or receive an EE, are often convinced they will see their loved one again when they die. They have no fear of death, and reinvest their energies in their present life.

6. Meaning derived from the belief that the loved one is still giving comfort, caring, and providing support. “Even in death he/she is still giving and caring,” is the thought of many who sense the presence of their loved one when mourning. This is a profound example for them to emulate. Would your beloved want you to be loving and bring joy into someone else’s life?

7. Meaning derived from the belief that the deceased is whole and healthy in a different existence. Many of the after death contacts that the bereaved experience show the loved one whole and healthy again. They are grateful that the beloved is no longer in pain.

Obviously, there are many, many more ways that individual mourners find meaning in the death of their loved ones, which helps them integrate their losses into their lives. Much depends on the personal beliefs, nature of the relationship with the deceased, and mode of death. The search for meaning is an important part of grief work for most, and it frequently becomes a time when we are open to revising our world views and beliefs about life and death.

Sometimes trying to make sense out of the death seems fruitless. For example, how do you find meaning in the death of four-month-old child (this happened to me)? I eventually was able to come to terms with it. Still, searching for the cause of the experience and pulling meaning from it with a trusted friend or relative is useful. We need others at this time to be with us when we are in pain.

Author’s Bio:

Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena), gives workshops and speaks throughout the US, and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His website is http://www.extraordinarygriefexperiences.com .

Other Related Links:

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss

The Grief Recovery Handbook : The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses

Explaining Suicide to Children

By Tracy Pierson

“What should I tell the children?” A question often asked after the suicide of a loved one. The answer – the truth.

Many people still believe it is best to shield children from the truth, that somehow this will protect them. More often than not, the opposite is true. Misleading children, evading the truth, or telling falsehoods to them about how someone died can do much more harm than good; if they happen to hear the truth from someone else, their trust in you can be difficult to regain. Not knowing can be terrifying and hurtful. We’ve always been told that “honesty is the best policy” and just because the subject is suicide, that doesn’t mean this time is any different.

What children might be feeling after losing someone they love to suicide:

1. Abandoned – that the person who died didn’t love them.

2. Feel the death is their fault – if they would have loved the person more or behaved differently.

3. Afraid that they will die too.

4. Worried that someone else they love will die or worry about who will take care of them.

5. Guilt – because they wished or thought of the person’s death.

6. Sad.

7. Embarrassed – to see other people or to go back to school.

8. Confused.

9. Angry – with the person who died, at God, at everyone.

10. Lonely.

11. Denial – pretend like nothing happened.

12. Numb – can’t feel anything.

13. Wish it would all just go away.

Children and adolescents may have a multitude of feelings happening at the same time or simply may not feel anything at all. Whatever they are feeling, the important thing to remember is that they understand it is okay. And that whatever those feelings are, they have permission to let them out. If they want to keep them to themselves for a while, that’s okay too.

How do we explain suicide to children or young people? It may seem impossible and too complex to even try, but that’s exactly what we must do – try! Their age will be a factor in how much they can understand and how much information you give them. Some children will be content with an answer consisting of one or two sentences; others might have continuous questions, which they should be allowed to ask and to have answered.

After children learn that the death was by suicide, one of their first questions might be, “What is suicide?” Explain that people die in different ways – some die from cancer, from heart attacks, some from car accidents, and that suicide means that a person did it to him or herself. If they ask how, once again it will be difficult, but be honest. (Over)

Some examples of explaining why suicide happens might be:
“He had a illness in his brain (or mind) and he died.”
“His brain got very sick and he died.”
“The brain is an organ of the body just like the heart, liver and kidneys. Sometimes it can get sick, just like other organs.”
“She had an illness called depression and it caused her to die.”

(If someone the child knows, or the child herself, is being treated for depression, it’s critical to stress that only some people die from depression, not everyone that has depression. And that there are many options for getting help, e.g. medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.)

A more detailed explanation might be: “Our thoughts and feelings come from our brain, and sometimes a person’s brain can get very sick – the sickness can cause a person to feel very badly inside. It also makes a person’s thoughts get all jumbled and mixed up, so he can’t think clearly. Some people can’t think of any other way of stopping the hurt they feel inside. They don’t understand that they don’t have to feel that way, that they can get help.”

(It’s important to note that there are people who were getting help for their depression and died anyway. Just as in other illnesses, a person can receive the best medical treatment and still not survive. This can also be the case with depression. If this is what occurred in your family, children and adolescents can usually understand the analogy above when it is explained to them.)

Children need to know that the person who died loved them, but that because of the illness, the person may have been unable to convey that to them or think about how the children would feel after the loved one’s death. They need to know that the suicide was not their fault, and that nothing they said or did or didn’t say or do, caused the death.

Some children might ask questions related to the morals of suicide – good/bad, right/wrong. It is best to steer clear of this, if possible. Suicide is none of these – it is something that happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with that pain.

Whatever approach is taken when explaining suicide to children, they need to know they can talk about it and ask questions whenever they feel the need, to know that there are people there who will listen. They need to know that they won’t always feel the way they do now, that things will get better, and that they will be loved and taken care of no matter what.

SA\VE – Suicide Awareness\Voices of Education, 7317 Cahill Rd., Edina, MN 55439
1-888-511-SAVE
Phone 952-946-7998, Fax 952-829-0841
http://www.save.org, save@winternet.com
Copyright 1996 by Tracy Pierson

Author’s Bio:

Tracy Pierson is Community Education Coordinator for SAVE – Suicide Awareness\Voices of Education. She conducts presentations on depression awareness, suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.

Other Related Links:

Why People Die by Suicide

Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss (Elf-Help Books for Kids)

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?

Parents: Letting Go Of Guilt

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

How are your children doing? If they are doing well, then I’m sure you feel good about your parenting. If they are not doing well, what are you telling yourself about your parenting?

“I should have been there for them more.”

“I should have been harder/easier on them.”

“I should have been a stay-at-home mother.”

“I shouldn’t have spent so much time at work.”

“I should have set better limits.”

…and so on.

Yet most parents did the best they could, and continue doing the best they can. Statements such as those above only server to create guilt. And the fact is that if you had known how to do it better, you probably would have, so beating yourself up for not knowing better is a useless waste of energy.

But even if you had been an “ideal” parent – if there is such a thing – your child might still have problems. The belief that perfect parenting creates perfect children is a false belief based on another false belief – that we have control over other people.

There are two problems with thinking that you can be a perfect parent and that this will create perfect children:

1. All of us are in the process of evolving ourselves – we are a work in progress. Unless you are a totally enlightened being, i.e. someone with no ego, no woundedness, no issues at all (I have never met this person!), you bring your own issues into your relationship with your children. You bring your own conditioning, false beliefs, fears and desires for control over getting love and avoiding pain. Given that we are the role models for our children, there is no way that the will not absorb some of our unhealed issues. Even if you manage to treat them with unconditional love, are you able to treat yourself with unconditional love? And if not, they are likely to learn to treat themselves the way you treat yourself – no matter how wonderfully you treat them.

2. Children do not come into this life as blank slates. They come in with their own unique souls. Anyone who has had more than one child knows that each child comes in totally different, with his or her own unique ways of being in the world. Therefore, what you do with one child that seems to work so well, may not work well at all with another child. Unless you are very sensitive and able to be acutely tuned into each child, it is likely that you may miss the cues of what an individual child needs. Therefore, while we need to take full responsibility for our choices and for being as loving as we can be, we cannot take responsibility for a child’s choices regarding who he or she wants to be.

If your children are not doing well, it is certainly important to do all you can to help. This means:

1. Supporting them in receiving the help they need if they are available for help.

2. Embracing your own learning journey. The more responsibility you take for your happiness and wellbeing, the better role model you become for them, regardless of their age. Even adult children can still learn from you how to start to take responsibility for themselves.

Feeling guilty for your children’s problems not only does nothing to help them, it can even harm them. Your guilt indicates that you feel responsible for them, and they may be more than willing to blame you for their problems. Feeling guilty is a form of enabling, which is never helpful to anyone. While they are living with you, you are certainly responsible for providing a caring and healthy environment for them. But you cannot take responsibility for the choices they make – you do not have this control. If you learn to take loving care of yourself in the face of their choices, you provide them with the opportunity to learn to take loving care of themselves.

Author’s Bio:

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?” and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or email her at mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com. Phone Sessions Available.

Other Related Links:

I’m OK, You’re My Parents: How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger, and Create a Relationship That Works

Guilt-Free Motherhood: Parenting with Godly Wisdom

Stepparenting Without Guilt

Tips On Penning A Bereavement Poem

By Silvano James

We all cherish our friends, family and those around us. Just as we experience the joys and warmth of togetherness, we should also be ready to face the pain of separation and death. However it is never easy to get over someone with whom we may have shared so many wonderful experiences. Writing a poem in such instances may provide an outlet for the poet to vent his hurt an emotions.

While attempting to write the bereavement poem, it is always advisable to begin writing in prose. Doing so one can easily note down all the important aspects one would like to cover. If directly writing a poem, the poet could get so easily carried away with the natural use of metaphor and abstractions in poetry, that the end result might prove to be a hazy replica and may not cause the reader to fully appreciate the work. Also one needs to be able to control oneself and not flow with the thoughts, to something unimaginable. One needs to draw the line between whether we would want to write something that is correct to others or true.

A good method followed is to make notes in a diary in prose about the pain you are experiencing. You can treat this as an outlet to let your feelings flow through. This will help you to collect all your thoughts and not miss any important happening. Some people also use the method of writing an unsent letter describing all their feelings to the person concerned. After pouring your heart out, you will come face to face with so many things you may not have noticed earlier. You will be able to say so many things you might not have uttered earlier. You will realize when all your thoughts have been covered. Now you can sit and weave these writings in your poem. You will notice the poem running parallel to all that you may have written in prose.

Generally, we write bereavement poems for a eulogy or a funeral service. Even I f you are facing a time crunch begin by writing the prose piece first. You will find that it enhances the feel of the poem and also saves time finally. Take your time and try to note the minutest of details. If you do not do so you may be cheating both yourself and the poem itself of the richness of your emotional integrity.

It is ultimately your decision about how you want the poem to shape up. You may write a form poem i.e. an ode, sonnet, use meter and rhyme or employ a free verse. At the end of the poem, you will surely experience an inner sense of peace. You will find the anger following through. Remember to depict the pain in all its brutality but also hope for healing in equal measures. You should leave the reader with a serene feel. After all, death is but a part of life.

Silvano James is the creator of http://www.arte-aborigen.com

Other Related Links:

The Gift of a Memory: A Keepsake to Commemorate the Loss of a Loved One

Seasons of Grief and Healing

Words to Comfort Words to Heal

Inside Grief : An Anthology on Death, Loss and Bereavement