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A truer statement I cannot find.  Grief is the price we pay for love.

Death is one of the most confusing emotions we experience. We don’t and can’t imagine a future without our loved ones and forever is not a time frame we can actually fully grasp. Unfortunately, death is a reality that will affect every single one of us. It is something that very few actually consider or anticipate. It doesn’t seem real until it happens to us. The sad reality is that people die every single day and it is devastating for those who love them. Whether it is a parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend, the pain cuts deep and can seem to leave a hole in our heart. Even if the death is expected, dealing with the death of a loved one is extremely difficult, but it becomes even more difficult when the death of a loved one is sudden and unexpected.

I know how devastating an unexpected loss can be. I lost my brother May 14, 2013, very unexpectedly. One day he was living and part of this earth, and the next day he was gone. It was a crippling shock. As sudden and as shattering as it was, the pain I felt was just as severe as the loss of my dad, which I had some time to prepare for.

With my dad, there was some time to struggle with the idea of him not being around anymore. With my brother, it was instantaneous. There was no time to prepare myself for his death. In an instant, he was gone.

When you expect a loved one’s death it’s like walking into a fighting ring to endure a severe, brutal beating. You know it’s coming but it still hurts like hell. When grief is unexpected, it’s terribly agonizing and you feel powerless. It simply takes longer to adjust after an unexpected death.

I lost my dad to leukemia. He was diagnosed in 1991. I didn’t find out he had leukemia until April of 2006. My parents chose to keep it to themselves. My dad never wanted anyone to view him as a sick man. He was honestly the strongest man I knew. He succumbed to his leukemia June 9, 2006.

Between the time people found out about my dad’s illness, and before he passed away, people came to visit him. My brother flew up from Florida to see him. There was some time for his loved ones to prepare and accept the solemn possibility of his death. Even though it was a possibility, and we had some time to prepare, everyone was still completely grief-stricken when he passed away. I still miss him to the core of my soul and still get very emotional but I have loving memories of a great man who is so deeply missed. There is no shocking, devastating wound. There remains a sad emptiness for a man who meant the world to me.

Though you may expect the death of a loved one, and the pain is different than unexpected death, it is still equally as deep. Though you may expect a loved one’s death, and you can get a jump start on your grieving process, you grieve just as deeply. Grief knows no boundaries.

A loss by suicide is considered an unexpected and sudden loss. Warning signs are not taken seriously and people truly don’t recognize them until the loss occurs. A loss to suicide is very different from any other form of death. An important thing to remember is that if you lose someone to suicide, you cannot hold yourself responsible for their actions. It is natural and normal to feel guilt but the reality of the matter is that they they chose their destiny. You did not choose it for them.

Unfortunately, any death is a horrible thing regardless of the manner in which we lose someone. However, suicide is a unique death and has a higher complexity of emotional waves than any other type of loss.

The bottom line is whether death is sudden or expected, grieving is very similar.  Yes, we all grieve differently but the coping mechanisms remain constant no matter how a loved one passed.

Some myths about grief are:

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. It is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it for healing.

MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.

Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front.

MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.

Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of expressing it.

And my all-time favorite:

MYTH: Grief should last about a year.

Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.

Even though it is an exhausting and painful process, and the bereaved experience intense emotions and symptoms after a loss, the majority emerge with their sanity and emotional health intact.

For more information about grief and healing, and for group support information as well as various ways to cope, I have provided some information and helpful websites:

Grief.com

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Journey of Hearts

Survivors of Suicide Loss

If you are presently grieving the loss of a loved one, please accept my condolences.  I pray that you find comfort from family and friends during this most difficult time of your life.

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I am living proof that you DO survive grief, even though it may not seem it at the time.  I hope I was able to validate how you are feeling as well as give you hope in knowing that you too will survive your loss.  You are going to be okay.

Hugs.

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