A Note to the Survivors of Suicide Feb 13, 2022
By Bill Huffman M.Div., M.A., LPC
All too often I have become aware of the suffering that loved ones experience as a
result of an unfortunate and untimely death of a loved one who took their own life. It is
an experience like no other and the questions are like those from no other experience.
For people of faith, those questions include the eternal destination of their loved one.
They ask, “Isn’t suicide a sin; how can they go to Heaven?” Many wonder how they
could have missed the signs of mental illness that would lead to a suicide. They also
wonder if they could have said something or did something that contributed to the
decision to commit suicide. Guilt associated with being a survivor of suicide can be a
heavy burden. And yet there is the possibility of an even more intense experience to
complicate and intensify their grief.
Often a surviving family member is the one who discovers the death scene. Imagine, if
you can for a moment, the shock and despair of walking unsuspectingly into a room
only to find your loved one dead by the actions of their own hand. These gruesome
scenes often portray the violence and desperation of the goodbye and may leave a
family member wondering what it would be like to die that kind of death. There may be
times when a surviving family member, in the midst of intense grief and depression, will
“test the waters” to see if they can understand what their loved one experienced as they
died. Occasionally that person is successful in completing the act themselves.
Depression, as a result of the experience of suicide, can be intense and deadly.
Survivors of suicide can’t handle it “in their own way”.
Don’t suffer in silence. Seek professional help to work through the experience of
complex grief associated with suicide. It is important for survivors of suicide to move
through the grief process and help them find answers to the questions that haunt them.
There is life for those who survive suicide and we can move on and use that experience
to help others who have experienced this violent goodbye. Believe me, I know, I’m a
Working through Divorce April 7, 2022
Helpful hints for the Client and Clinician
By Bill Huffman M.Div., M.A., LPC
Divorce is a life crisis, treat it as such. Feeling panic, grief and despair is normal. Let’s determine what is needed immediately to help lessen your despair. Resources are available to help meet your basic needs.
Divorce is a journey that we take together. Wholeness is our destination. Dark tunnels are always part of the journey, but there is always a light in the darkness that we move toward. Focus on that light; it is our hope of a bright future.
The journey must be taken in stages. We don’t know when each stage will manifest itself, but we do know that they will. Each stage will move us closer to the light.
There is much truth to the old saying, “Misery loves company.” Support groups and friends who have taken this journey before you are great sources of comfort. Seek them out!
Remember, you are not in this alone. The children must be engaged. Counseling with the estranged spouse and the children can be beneficial in helping everyone make smooth transitions as things move forward.
Our tendency is to make many changes at once creating additional stress. Move slowly; make each transition such as a new job, new school and community timely. Allow yourself and the other members of the family to adjust to each change independently if possible.
Don’t talk negatively about your ex-spouse to the children. Long term relationships are important. There will be many times in which you and your ex-spouse will need to be together for family events such as weddings, graduation, school activities and so on. Vent your frustration to your therapist!
Self care is very important. Eat well, exercise and get the sleep that you need. It is o.k. to use sleeping aids during this time. Referral to a doctor for meds is appropriate and recommended if restful sleep is not possible.
The day will come when the working relationship between the therapist and client will end. That will be great because it means the journey of recovery is nearly over.
Be thankful for the opportunity to walk together through one of life’s most difficult trials. Life is not fair, it never has been. However companionship, genuine caring, support and empathy are all effective resting places during the journey. You sit together and reflect on the journey, preparing for the next stop moving ever closer to the hope that enables us to move on in life. New loves and experiences wait. Open the door, walk in and enjoy!