I want to give readers a glimpse into the book,The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide. It is my hope this book will begin the healing process for so many impacted by a loved one’s suicide. You can check out this short 3-minute video trailer to see what the book is all about. The following excerpt is from a chapter titled “Guilt and Shame.”
Many times after a suicide, the survivor believes they failed in some regard, failed as a protecting parent, a lovable child, a supportive spouse, a safe sibling, or a caring and listening friend. We believe that if we had been more approachable or more helpful, or if our loved one knew how much we truly loved them, then they wouldn’t have been forced to choose death. We believe we failed and so we believe we are failures. We go through life shaming ourselves for not measuring up, not showing up, and truthfully, we shame ourselves for not being their Savior. We kick ourselves for not being everything our loved one needed to stay alive, and we blame ourselves for not keeping them alive. We carry the burden of a scarlet letter ‘F’ for Failure. We failed to protect and save our loved one because we were not enough.
I bought into this lie for far too long—decades, in fact. I believed all of the things mentioned above, and after several interviews and conversations with other survivors, I know I am not unique in this regard. We are not their Saviors, and to accept the responsibility of their choice to die is neither fair nor healthy. There is no other cause of death that wrecks the emotional psyche of a survivor quite like suicide. I have met people who lost a loved one to suicide forty years ago who still express feelings of guilt and shame. The emotional and physical toll this self-imposed blame takes on a survivor can be devastating. Countless survivors share that they have chronic health problems today, likely due to the stress of blame, shame, and guilt compounded over years.
Out of this entire book, there is no more important message that I want to share with you: You are not to blame, and you are enough. Our loved ones were sick. They were dealing with mental illness, they felt hopeless, and they believed their lives had no value. They were in an incredibly dark place which we could not penetrate. Professionals could not save them, medicine did not cure them, and love from others couldn’t touch them. Their choice to die was their last solution to end the unimaginable physical and emotional pain they experienced every minute of every day. They were not intentionally trying to bring us pain but rather desperately trying to end their own. We will not condone suicide, but neither can we continue to take responsibility for it or allow it determine our own value.
The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide is available now on Amazon. I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself or anyone you know impacted by a suicide loss.