What inspired you to become a Suicide Bereavement Support Group facilitator for individuals who have lost loved ones to suicide? Was there a specific event or personal experience that motivated you to offer this kind of support?
30 years ago I lost my brother to suicide. Losing a loved one is painful, but grief after suicide is different, more complex, messy, often loaded with guilt, shame, and self-recrimination, and full of “why’s and “if only’s” and ” should haves”. It can be all-consuming and can pull people and families apart. It did mine.
This is only one of the reasons that I feel passionate about helping to create a space where people can feel safe to share whatever they are experiencing, all the “right” and “wrong” feelings we often hide even from ourselves.
Can you share a pivotal moment or story from your journey that reaffirmed your commitment to helping those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide?
Not too long ago a work colleague confided in me that her first husband had taken his own life. The pain of that loss, though still felt, had diminished with time, and she had been able to commit to a new relationship. What was haunting her was the relief she had felt after his suicide. I quote her now: “When I look back at the years of turmoil and constantly living in a heightened state of anxiety of what is he going to do next and the fear that he would do exactly what he did end up doing. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I felt as though I was losing all sense of self, I was starting to disappear.”
After hearing her anguish, I realized she had not fully forgiven herself for her “taboo” feelings and the option of attending an SBSG with others in her situation may assist her in finding peace.
How do you believe your own experiences and training as a Crisis Support volunteer and SBSG facilitator have impacted not only the individuals you support, but also your own perspective on mental health and suicide prevention? Are there any lessons or insights you’ve gained through your role?
Through my position as a Crisis Supporter, I have had the privilege of listening and interacting with a wide variety of people from all walks of life, and the common thread amongst all is the desire to be heard, respected, and validated, to hear a kind, non-judgmental, empathetic voice who is willing to work with them to find a way forward. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from my time on the phone is that no -one is immune and that depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other mental health issues can happen to anyone at any time in any stage of life.
For anyone who is considering on joining the group , that has lost a loved one to suicide, what can they expect when they participate? What will happen during the group session? What message would you like to give someone reading this.
I would like to offer anyone considering coming to the SBSG a warm, safe, non-judgmental place to share or not. I hope this will be a place to meet others who are walking or who have walked the same winding, potholed, uneven, roller coaster of a road that you may find yourself on at this point in your life.
We will offer some topics weekly but will be led by you, the group.