Why Stories Matter by Jennifer Lane

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Talking about your story will help you heal.  Being in a suicide-focused grief support group will help you heal.  Finding and talking with a counselor or therapist will help you heal.  Those things are healthy and good, and I recommend you do those things as you heal from the loss and navigate your grief.

Today I want to point out that there is something that is being done on The Gift of Second website that I believe is helpful in a different way: sharing stories.  I want to tell you why these stories matter.

The day I lost my brother to suicide, a family member gave my parents the book called No Time to Say Goodbye by Carla Fine.  In that book, there are numerous stories with various experiences losing a loved one to suicide.  The stories were all so very different.  There were all kinds of ways that suicide took place, how that person was found, and reactions to the suicide.  There were people in the book who were extremely open with others about their loved one’s suicide.  But there were also people in the book who had never shared about their loss to people who were very close to them, who had been in their lives for years.  Knowing that gave me permission to choose how I shared with others about my brother’s death.


Reading such a big variety of stories helped me.  Hearing stories that I didn’t identify with at all was even helpful.

Here’s the common thread about stories: They are all complicated, messy, and always unique.  God created us all unique.  Because every single person is different, their suicide story will be different.

There is comfort in knowing that we are not alone in suffering this type of loss, a loss of a loved one to suicide, but there is also comfort in the knowing that our loved one and the circumstances around their death are unique.

We might think that what we have gone through in this loss is too weird or too morbid or too strange.  Look long enough and you will find a story more “weird,” “morbid,” or “strange.”

We might think that our reaction to our loved one’s death was not normal.  As we hear others stories, we see that there isn’t a normal reaction to suicide.  Reactions run the spectrum of possible reactions because the world contains a full spectrum of personalities and feelings.

I felt better about my own story as I saw not only similarities with other in their loss, but differences with others in their loss.

These stories helped me get to a healthy place.

Coming to the Gift of Second for posts from others who have survived a suicide, I sometimes find stories that I can relate to and I sometimes find stories I don’t relate to.  I find comfort in both because there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone, but there is also comfort in knowing that both our lost loved one and ourselves are individuals, uniquely created.

Stories matter.


Today’s post is written by Jennifer Lane. To read more from Jennifer, please check her out at Jenniferllane.

3 Responses

  1. Candy Hershey

    Yes, I agree. Sharing our story is very important. I’ve always felt it important to the one sharing their story & I’ve also learned how important it is to those hearing, especially to those who’ve lost someone to suicide. We may not know that until we have shared our story. I’ve learned that sometimes we have to share our story carefully so we learn who can receive and who can’t but we can only discover that sometimes by sharing and it’s okay, as it still helps us both…

  2. Julie Harris

    Totally agree.

  3. Anna Smit

    This is beautiful, Jennifer. Especially this: “As we hear others stories, we see that there isn’t a normal reaction to suicide. Reactions run the spectrum of possible reactions because the world contains a full spectrum of personalities and feelings.”

    I just passed on your post to a friend whose sister lost her husband to suicide. May she too know that she is not alone and that God has created her as a unique soul to react in her own way to this deep loss, in the knowledge that Jesus will meet her exactly where she’s at.