Surviving Suicide – Finding Life Again

I’ve just returned from a month-long mini round-the-world trip that took me and my husband to Asia, Indonesia and Europe. Now, while most people who love to travel would probably have been excited planning, counting down the days to departure and actually travelling, I found myself, as always, in a state of neutrality more than I did excitement. More than neutrality, it is the state that anyone who lives with PTSD struggles with, not having the ability to feel excited about much of anything (which as an aside, is different from being able to feel gratitude). As such, I honestly could not rouse myself to feel anything more than hopeful that all would go well on each leg of the trip (which it did) and as much excitement as I could feel reuniting with our son in various locations for some quality time together. If anyone can drum up excitement in me, it’s my son!

Continue reading “Surviving Suicide – Finding Life Again”

Surviving versus Living – What’s the difference?

It is interesting that we are commonly known to survive loss. We are thought of in our grief as surviving loved ones. We are called suicide survivors after losing a loved one to suicide. But what it means to truly survive loss is not well understood or even talked about at all. It’s just a word that’s been assigned to the bereaved.

The literal meaning of the word “survive” is to remain alive after the death of someone or the cessation of something under adverse or unusual circumstances. And remaining alive versus living are two very different things. I’m sure everyone would agree that losing a child is the least favourable circumstance to be in and is unusual and adverse in every way imaginable. For most if not all bereaved parents, surviving their child’s death is about the only thing they can do. But it’s also true that many grievers in general simply remain alive without much or any feeling at all after losing a love of their life. Without hope and loss of direction, some people may never feel anything again.

Continue reading “Surviving versus Living – What’s the difference?”

PTSD: How it Impacts Relationships and What You Need to Manage Them

As a bereaved mom of a daughter who died by suicide in 2005, I have long been a proponent of change in how we view difficult loss and grief in our culture and the importance of understanding trauma and PTSD associated with certain types of loss. Not only for grievers, but everybody supporting them through their grief process.

It’s not only child loss that can traumatize people, but keeping it to bereaved parents for a moment, I am certain there isn’t one mom or dad out there who hasn’t been traumatized by the loss of their child, no matter the cause of death. They may even have PTSD and not know it. Little to no information is available on the topic. Despite the lack of information on the risk of PTSD for bereaved parents, it is encouraging to see that a quick internet search pops up a number of articles and studies done on PTSD in parents coping with a critically ill child, which is progress. (As an aside, there is even research for traffic accident victims who have PTSD). I remain astounded at the apparent lack of information and interest to take up this cause for the grieving.

Read more

Suicide – Are we failing each other as a society?

Suicide is a topic that while gaining more and more recognition in terms of the global concern over increasing numbers of people both young and old dying, the reasons for people choosing to die remains baffling. It is estimated that 800,000 to over one million people die by suicide somewhere in the world each year (depending on which stats you read). One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 population. There has been an increase of 60% of suicide deaths in the past 45 years.

Focusing for a moment only on children and youth, suicide is the second biggest killer of young people worldwide. It is the same for Canada, the USA and is one of the leading causes of death in the UK for people 10 to 34 years old, with the numbers rising. Overall, suicide rates are the highest in Europe, followed by South East Asia, the Western Pacific (includes Australia and New Zealand) and the Americas. Probably, though this could be a stretch – I’m going to assume that most people don’t think about suicide unless they’ve been touched by it.

Continue reading “Suicide – Are we failing each other as a society?”

The Parent Project – Is it Right to Produce a Grandchild from a Deceased Child?

I came across this article in a Canadian newspaper recently where a New York supreme court judge gave permission for the parents of a deceased son without his prior consent to use his sperm to produce a male heir. Cultural differences aside (they are from a culture where male heirs are important), they stated they were desperate for a part of their son to live on, which is universal to all grieving parents.

As a bereaved parent myself, the story left me wondering whether this case could set a precedent giving every parent the right to produce a grandchild from their deceased child without consent, all because we want a part of them to live on. This raises all sorts of questions about the ethics and ramifications of this extended arm of assisted-baby making techniques; not only for bioethicists, but our culture at large. It also left me wondering whether I would have done it if I could when my child died in 2005. The answer?

Continue reading “The Parent Project – Is it Right to Produce a Grandchild from a Deceased Child?”

Lost in Translation: Why We Don’t Talk About Death

I lost an extended family member recently. Attending the funeral brought back lots of memories. None good. Burying my daughter, father and mother in relatively rapid succession (every two and a half years) and being directly responsible for making the arrangements for my daughter and mom was difficult. Horrifying for my daughter actually, who died by suicide. Stressful and somber for my mom who died naturally, but also unexpectedly.

Funeral homes seem to be the only place it feels acceptable for us to talk about death outside of initial condolences. At this recent funeral, I was reminded how freely we can talk about where one may have gone in death. How comforting it is remembering the deceased loved one’s life with both sorrow and levity. How natural it is to contemplate (if only briefly) what life now means for loved ones left behind and the strength it takes to physically let go of our deceased.

Continue reading “Lost in Translation: Why We Don’t Talk About Death”

Early Attachment and Trauma in Grief

How well we handle difficult and sudden loss and do or don’t recover from it – especially the death of a child – may depend on the early attachment style or relationship we formed to our primary caregiver(s) from infancy through childhood. If this was not a secure attachment, which is the optimal environment in which to be raised, we learned the same defensive patterns our parents or other caregivers used to defend against their negative experiences or trauma, and relied on these throughout our adulthood to protect ourselves against any negative affects we may have encountered along the way.

Continue reading “Early Attachment and Trauma in Grief”

Trauma in Grief – The Video Series!

As I have often said throughout various writings and at different times over the years, trauma in grief is not talked about. This needs to change. Not only for the benefit of grievers, but for those wanting to support the bereaved along their healing path, whether in a personal or professional capacity.

For years after my daughter’s suicide in 2005, I felt all alone in a struggle I didn’t understand. Though I saw doctors for chronic ill-health, beyond diagnosing stress as the obvious root of the problems, they didn’t know what to say to me knowing I had lost my daughter (understandable) or how to help me in my grief. I know now that almost 90% of what I struggled with was directly related to symptoms of PTSD that I was diagnosed with in 2014, and proved to be a game-changer in my ongoing healing.

Continue reading “Trauma in Grief – The Video Series!”

Trauma and Right Brain Healing

I live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is the result of the suicide of my daughter in 2005. Nearly ten years passed before my medical diagnosis. Since then, I have been on a search to better understand PTSD and the most effective ways to manage PTSD symptoms. Writing as a bereaved parent and not a medical professional, I give full credit to the science-based information presented here to the work of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and his book The Body Keeps the Score and the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine for the information made publicly available through their webinar series Treating Trauma Master Series – all of which I agree with and much of which I have experienced or am still experiencing. I remain grateful to them for making these resources available.

While PTSD is gaining more recognition culturally, trauma and PTSD related to loss and grief is still not being talked about. This needs to change. I present here what has been an important missing component in my own struggle managing PTSD symptoms in the hope it will bring more awareness about trauma and PTSD to others struggling with a traumatic loss.

Continue reading “Trauma and Right Brain Healing”

4 Key Rules “Intend from Desire vs Expectation”

The practice of intention has been around for ages. In fact, all of us start intending from the moment we consciously start making decisions. It’s just that most people don’t know that’s what they are doing.

There have been fads of various takes on the intention and manifestation process that have come and gone over the decades. They all serve to remind us of the power we have to create our inner and outer world experiences in line with what we truly want. And many people hop on board and try one or more of these techniques for a while. They have some success and then when things turn south, give it up.

Continue reading “4 Key Rules “Intend from Desire vs Expectation””