The person you love isn’t afraid of much because they know what it’s like to stare their greatest fear in the face and survive to tell the story. They’ve received the phone call that their partner has passed away, they’ve picked out the funeral clothes for their husband or wife, they have picked the perfect songs for the burial. They have faced horrible fears and walked out on the other side of the fire seemingly unscathed. The person you love isn’t afraid of much, because there isn’t much that can hurt them more than they’ve already been hurt. Anything and everything else in the entire world pales in comparison to the pain they have already experienced. They know this deep down in their bones.
What they are afraid of is giving someone else a chance. Letting someone else in. Once they decide they are ready to move forward with life, they are ready, but they don’t know how the next relationship will go. No matter how much they prepare for it, they have no idea. They’ve never done this before, it is uncharted waters. It could be as smooth as butter, or it could be as rocky as a back-country road. They don’t know when the flashbacks will start. They don’t know when the guilt will rear its head. They have no idea how they will react on the first wedding anniversary, or the anniversary of their partner’s passing.
They’ll most likely compare you to their late partner. It may be silently. They will talk about them. A lot at first. They don’t mean to, and it’s not an insult. You must understand this was not a break up or a divorce, it was a death. A sudden and violent death that has left a stain on their heart. You can help mend their heart.
What they do know is that they want and need a new partner who understands these things may (and probably will) happen. They need a partner who allows them to flourish by their side in their new life while continuing to grieve their late partner. Grieving never ends. It gets better, and sometimes rears its head again out of nowhere. Sometimes their anxiety flares up for seemingly no reason. They may have no idea what triggers it. They may become distant from time to time. Chances are high that it is not on purpose. What they need is a partner who can support them through the rough times. They need a partner who understands there is no competition with a ghost.
If you choose to love someone who has lost a partner to suicide, remember that they need someone who, above all else, understands these things. It may not always be pretty, but it’s worth it.