Evidence

Guest blog by Jan McDaniel

I’ve always been fascinated by old photographs and films. Last Spring, when a cough was keeping me awake at night, I watched several historical documentaries. I knew the people I was seeing in black and white film on the television screen actually lived in color and that these captured and preserved moments didn’t really stop time, only slowed it for a moment, but it felt like they had found the secret to holding on to something precious.

A few days later I realized why. Evidence. Of what happened, who lived in that moment, that it was all real. That it was life that made sense. A baby riding on his daddy’s shoulder. An old man recalling a terrible war. Survival.

I think that’s one thing we seek from grief as we try to hold onto and remember those who are not in our arms anymore. Evidence that, despite the crumbling of our individual civilizations, they did exist. They were more than their struggles, more than the way they died.

They were precious secrets that belonged to us, treasures that held our worlds together. Suicide did come along and steal them. The normalcy of our lives was broken like shards of ancient pottery left behind to be discovered and marveled at – pieced together again – a little at a time.

They were real and greatly loved, and once we were happy.

Jan McDaniel creates projects for survivors of traumatic loss through Way For Hope. A former journalist and educator, Jan never expected her personal grief to lead to writing about suicide for people all over the world, but that is exactly what happened. Her greatest tragedy became a hope-filled mission to help others through the devastation that follows this kind of traumatic loss.

Changes

Guest blog by Jan McDaniel

Suicide changes everything. Yet, not all of the changes to come are negative. Trust that the pain will soften, that life will be worth living again. Since I can’t do anything to influence the passage of time and cause these things to happen sooner for you, I thought I would share my wishes for your healing.

Over the next week or so, I hope you will find a bit of relief in rest. Naps, especially.

I wish you peaceful moments in which you can hold onto the love you shared with that special person. Love outlasts pain, but when pain is deepest, it is difficult to remember that you never have to give up what this precious one means to you. Never.

I want the weather to be gentle where you live. Walking in natural surroundings or contemplating snow through the window can bring healing comfort. Let it.

I hope you will remember you are not alone, especially if your loss is recent.

I wish for you acknowledgment that this year is different, that someone important is missing. That hurts.

My hope is that your loved one will continue to be included in your life in some way. Through sharing memories and hearing others call his name. Through carrying on the work she wanted to do. Through photos that can cause pain but that can also bring tender smiles to faces streaked with tears. Feeling this pain is the way to healing and acceptance.

I wish you reminders that others do understand, do grieve with you, and will hold your hand.

Jan McDaniel creates projects for survivors of traumatic loss through Way For Hope. A former journalist and educator, Jan never expected her personal grief to lead to writing about suicide for people all over the world, but that is exactly what happened. Her greatest tragedy became a hope-filled mission to help others through the devastation that follows this kind of traumatic loss.

Understanding

Guest blog by Jan McDaniel

Information brings knowledge, knowledge brings understanding, and understanding brings peace. While it is not possible to understand everything about the complexities of suicide, it helps to know the following.

  • Suicide crosses all boundaries: age race, gender, beliefs, cultures, economic status, and social standing.
  • Stress, medications, and other things can cause physical changes in the brain, resulting in distorted thoughts, hallucinations, and/or a breakdown in logic and reasoning capabilities.
  • Most suicides are related to mental illness or behavior disorders, but some are not. Other things, like impaired impulse control, addictions, and physical illness, can play a part.
  • When hope dies, a person feels there is no reason to live, no matter how many people love him or her or how much support is available.
  • Often, thoughts are only of escaping mental anguish.  If family and friends are thought of at all, these thoughts may focus on death as a way to relieve loved ones of the burden of dealing with the person in pain.

Jan McDaniel creates projects for survivors of traumatic loss through Way For Hope. A former journalist and educator, Jan never expected her personal grief to lead to writing about suicide for people all over the world, but that is exactly what happened. Her greatest tragedy became a hope-filled mission to help others through the devastation that follows this kind of traumatic loss.