Self-Care After a Suicide by Brandy Lidbeck

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The following excerpt is from the book The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide. This passage discusses one aspect of self-care after a suicide.


It’s Okay to Say “No.”

We often feel we need to commit to all things and all people because, if we don’t, we will feel rude or unsupportive. Sometimes we say yes to things because people ‘expect’ us to. The truth is nobody can say yes all the time, and we need to be okay with it. Sometimes the best way we can take care of ourselves is by saying no to commitments, obligations, and responsibilities. If a friend or family member invites you over to their home for a holiday because you always spend that holiday with them but it feels overwhelming this year to even think about going, much less prepare the feast you typically do, it is okay to say, “I’m not feeling up to it this year. I think I will stay home instead.” If you typically run the PTA at your child’s school but the responsibility is too much to bear, it is okay to step down for a season (or permanently). If you and your friends always go on a huge summer vacation with all of your families and pets and this year it seems like too much to even consider, it is okay to say no. Sometimes the best self-care we can possibly do is to say no and lighten our loads. In the aftermath of a suicide, we typically need less on our plates, not more. If we fill every minute of every day, avoidance, not grieving, is actually taking place. Self-care involves grieving and giving ourselves what we need during the grieving process. People will not always understand or agree with you saying “no” and that is okay. It is called ‘self-care’ not ‘care for everyone else first.’

For a season it is perfectly fine to say no to people, things, and commitments. If, however, you are saying no all of the time and find yourself completely isolated and removed from friends and family, it is likely depression instead of self-care. At that point, it is necessary to talk with your doctor. Self-care is intended to promote better health and is a preventative step to feeling overwhelmed. If you are simply removing yourself from the world, you may need to evaluate a deeper cause.



You can read more from The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide by grabbing a copy of the book on Amazon now. You are not alone. You can watch the Book Trailer Here to get a sneak peek into the book.

7 Responses

  1. carol trinkley

    Just lost my son to suicide this August. Already my daughter is talking about Thanksgiving this year. Normally we would all be at her house, but due to her brothers death a friend of hers has asked us to go to her house out of state. My son’s birthday this year falls on Thanksgiving (24th) and I know that I will not be able to go anywhere. I don’t think it is really fair to be with others and perhaps ruin their holiday by my emotions. I have told her I can’t go. Don’t think she understands, but I was enlightened by this passage.

  2. Wendy Faust

    This is really good advice and this book I needed the first year. I am finding that the 2nd year of the coming Holliday season with out my son is just as hard and saying no is a really good idea , there is no time limit your feelings some people even realatives want you to be over it they just don’t understand
    Wishing us all peace today

  3. Marin

    I am so happy to read this…I lost my brother in feb and finding it hard to find the holiday cheer like I usually do. I will still continue traditions and celebrate but always feel so bad saying no but this year this is a reminder to say no and take care of us…thank you for sharing;)

  4. Lon Crow

    I hope I find in this book, a reason to not end my life. Every book I have read talks about how to deal with the myriad of issues that relate to the loss. The trouble is every book, every person I talk to will say the pain never goes away. I have talked to people who have lost loved ones decades ago and tears still stream down their cheeks when they talk about them. From my perspective, I see no need to go through the various exercises that have been suggested. My precious wife was my entire world, my entire world. I go to support groups and I hear the same stories and see the same tears. I hope this book has some magic bullet. If not, please let me know of another resource. I have found counselors have no magic bullets and I am tired of hearing time is the only pill.

    • brandylidbeck

      Lon, I wonder what kind of magic bullet would even be able to completely heal a broken heart of this magnitude. We ache because we love them so. Healing doesn’t look like forgetting them or the pain. Healing, I think, looks much different. Time changes it, but doesn’t heal on its own. So, if you are looking for a magic bullet, you won’t find it here, I am afraid. You won’t find it at all. But, if you are looking for someone who gets it, even 25 years later and has learned to be honest with the pain and devastation this many years later, you have found your book!

    • Peggy

      It is nearly twenty years since I lost my 16-year-old son, Bryan, to suicide. I can relate to what Lon has written about losing his precious wife because we just want the overwhelming sense of loss to somehow reach a resolution. All I can say is, it’s possible to finally find a state of resilience in which to live. A state of being, where the pain is no longer paralyzing, where we can feel the burden of the pain on our shoulders and yet we can carry it without stumbling and falling. It is less a factor of time and more a factor of finally acknowledging that we cannot put it down and walk away. We must carry it, and allow ourselves to be a different person now. A person who can once again laugh and feel joy and see beauty in life.

      We don’t exactly “find meaning” after suicide, but we do “forge meaning” after suicide. We take all of our values and our perspectives on what makes life beautiful, and we heat it up in a furnace of our raw emotions then we reshape it by beating or hammering at it. And once it cools down, that new meaning can be beautiful to behold and more useful than the meaning we used to know before the suicide.

      My transformative resource has been to get involved in the mission of suicide prevention. It’s difficult to swallow the pill that suicide can somehow be prevented because it seems to reinforce that we did not do what needed to be done to save them. On the contrary, I have learned that, just like it takes a village to raise a child that it also takes a village to save a life from suicide. It takes the community to be supportive, not just the immediate family, and it takes our schools, our healthcare system and our society to finally treat mental health as a human right. We must advocate for the needs of those who suffer in silence, and those who suffer outwardly and get told to “be more positive”. And we take care of each other. Survivors of loss can care for other survivors of loss by offering an open ear and an open heart.

    • Erica

      I’ve found comfort from this. You will see your beloved wife again.