Navigating the Loss of a Spouse to Suicide
A spouse is someone with whom you build a life and share all of the intimate details about who you are. They know you fully and accept you as you are, so when you lose your spouse, it may feel like you’ve suddenly lost a core piece of who you are. The world you’ve created and known becomes suddenly unfamiliar, and you don’t know what to do with yourself now that they’re gone or how even to feel.
How to Reconcile What You’re Feeling
When your spouse dies by suicide, the loss can feel much different than if they had died of natural causes. Whether they left behind a note or not may not minimize all of the emotions you feel. You may feel deeply hurt and betrayed, angry and confused, and have a deep sense of sadness. Suicide isn’t something that you can rationalize or clearly explain when others ask you questions.
Whatever you may be feeling, it is important to take the time to process your emotions. Journaling is one way to start to address some of the conflicting emotions you may be feeling. It’s also an opportunity to write to your late spouse and release all of the questions and thoughts you have and to write down the things you wish you could have said to them.
Don’t Shut People Out
You get to choose how you navigate your grief and when you want to let people in. And it’s important to let the people who want to be there for you support you.
On average, widows lose around 75% of their social support network. This can happen for many reasons, and sometimes it can just feel difficult to be around people who remember you and your spouse as a couple. But allow there to be space for those who want to lift you up in the moments that you need it the most.
And when it all feels too much, you can also seek out support groups or professional counseling to connect with others who understand what you’re going through or a counselor who can help you find ways to heal.
It Wasn’t Something You Did
One of the more difficult things about losing someone you love to suicide is that you don’t know why it happened, especially if they didn’t leave behind a note.
You feel left behind to put together the pieces of what happened. You may even start to wonder, “What could I have done differently? Did I miss the signs?”
How do you begin to talk about losing your spouse to suicide? There are no right answers, and there is no right timing. What’s important is finding the space and taking the time you need to sort through everything you may be feeling.
Even though not having all of the answers can feel frustrating, it can help to remind you that losing them wasn’t your fault or because of something you did. They could have been struggling silently, not wanting anyone else to know. And as much as suicide can be a planned act, it can also be impulsive and unplanned. While their decision and its aftermath may deeply affect you, it doesn’t mean that there was anything you could have done differently to prevent it from happening.
Healing Doesn’t Mean Forgetting
Finding yourself again after losing your spouse isn’t a linear path. You might even find that you’re not the same person after the loss, and that’s okay too.
What matters most is that you find ways to move through your grief, in your timing, so that you can find healing. A grief counselor is someone who can help you navigate through what you’re feeling and make sense of it all.
And when you do find healing, it doesn’t mean that you are leaving behind everything you built with your late spouse. You will always carry their memory with you as you find new ways of being and living that represent where you are now.
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