Forrest Park in downtown St. Louis, Missouri August 1999

Thoughts About Rumination:

One of the many permanent mysteries of Suicide is “what were they thinking and what motivations ramped them up to end their life?” 

Over the years, I have frequently pondered this whole issue. I have named this reoccurring question the state of “wonderment.” 

I have conjured up all manner of scenarios. None of them can ever be validated. Maybe, in the END, it does not really matter. During those ruminations, I would constantly unravel past events, dissect and restructure them. That is a crushing task. 

In the end, however, emotionally drained, I would toss in the towel. I would often feel relieved, somehow. Then reality would step in with the fact, “some things are simply unknowable,” and the frustration would settle in. 

In the beginning, I wrote many of these thoughts down, and filed them away in a physical folder labeled “To be resolved.” Today, the folder is stuffed away yet its content is permanently stored in my memory. 

Presently, I have turned to writing summaries in hopes of encouraging new survivors. For some survivors (but not all of us,) this rumination process brings a layer of PEACE. It could simply be knowing that I am not alone in this struggle. If I ever go back to that original folder today, I would relabel it “All I can ever know.” 

In the counseling arena, there are mixed theories regarding what rumination does to an individual. Most therapy seems to suggest it is detrimental to reconstructing life after. I have come to disagree. I clearly recognize this may be unique to my own case. I get a certain level of comfort in knowing I gave these questions and thoughts my best. It involved many hours of paced counseling. Paced meaning not constant non-stop but scheduled . . . like weekly. 

I was fortunate to have three friends that were professional counselors (two of them PhDs.) In addition, I have met and conferred with hundreds of survivors in face to face support groups. In the end, this is just another area where we could find disagreement . . . some for and some against rumination. 

There are absolutely certain aspects of any particular suicide that would be best avoided since nothing good can come of the effort. Things like witnessing or being the one to discover the suicide. Some successfully regain emotional balance, even in these situations. 

Reality is tough to face up to . . . yet unavoidable. I personally don’t see how it can be locked away in your memory, without seeping out from time to time. I have encountered individuals coming to support groups that put off getting help for decades. And, I am convinced that some will go to their grave in this state. SAD 

Various formats of “talk therapy” can help in making memories more manageable. Then medicinal regiments and “EMDR” treatment can bring relief to others. All of these approaches require making an individual choice . . . and not just adopting a solution from someone else. You live with you, not with what someone else thinks. Then after a choice is made comes the requirement for commitment and follow thru. 

So much is lost in the aftermath of a suicide. We lose the individual and all the joys that made Home Sweet Home a real place. Then consider their contributions we miss out on. I can’t look at a family picture (this one 17 years ago now) without Joys and Sorrows struggling to gain control of my thinking.