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What Life Is Like on the Other Side of Suicide

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Just over two years ago I lost my beautiful, talented sister to depression. This was one of my darkest times, and since then I have learned a lot about what it’s like on the other side of suicide.

When people hear you lost someone to suicide, they often instantly say “at least they are at peace.” What they don’t realize is your life of torment and what ifs is just beginning.

I remember it like it was yesterday, the call that I needed to get my mom at work now and take her home. Which of course I knew something was wrong as she never would pull me from my patients to leave work. I picked her up at her work which was close to my clinic, we ride home in silence. Anything I did say was met with the most generic short reply. It was a long 45 minute drive home, and I knew something life changing was coming. Once we got home she told me my sister lost her battle with depression and ended her life, she didn’t want to tell me sooner so I could drive safely home.

The next couple days were a whirlwind, and looking back I realize I went into autopilot mode.

You see, what no one realizes is grief from suicide loss is different. When someone has a physical illness you hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

I never got to prepare. My sister was one of those you hear stories about. Never showed any signs of struggling, Michelle was an extremely talented nurse practitioner; her patients and their families raved about how bubbly and amazing she was. No one saw the internal pain she hid so well.

I feel it is this way a lot, either we don’t know they are struggling or we don’t know the depth at which they are struggling.

Grief from suicide loss is also different for everyone. My brother struggled because he never got to meet her, I struggled because I lost someone I spent every day of my childhood with, my mom struggled because she lost her child, my grandmother struggled because she never thought she would outlive her granddaughter. No matter who it is you lose though, one thing is always the same.

You never stop wondering what if. What if I had seen her pain? Would I of been able to prevent this? What if I told her I loved her just a little bit more? Would that of stopped this?

They say time heals all wounds. I lost my sister 833 days ago; time has healed nothing.

It hasn’t gotten easier, in fact I still go through the grief cycle on repeat. Some days I am angry, angry she didn’t come to me, angry at myself for not knowing. Other days I can look at her picture and relive memories without tears. Then there are the really bad days, where pushing myself to get out of bed and face a day without her is almost unbearable.

The one thing that is consistent is the desire to keep her memory alive. Sometimes people will say her name and instantly have that look, the oh no I brought her up look. This is not a bad thing, this is helpful for us. We want their memory to carry on.

The thing with suicide though, when their pain ends ours just begins. We have to find a way to always be strong and carry on, for their memory lives on with us. We can ensure no one ever forgets how amazing our loved ones were.

All of this, jumbled emotions, sleepless nights and days filled with tears. This is what it’s like on the other side of suicide.

Getty image by Joko Yulianto

Originally published: February 24, 2021
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