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 motivated them to end their life?”
Though it is over two decades in the past, I frequently pondered this issue. I named this reoccurring phenomena “wonderment.”
I conjure up all manner of scenarios. None of them can ever be validated and in the end, it does not matter to anyone but me. During these ruminations, I will unravel past events, dissect and restructure them. At times, this is a crushing process.
Emotionally drained, I toss in the towel. Most of the time this is a strain yet as time has passed I somehow feel relieved. Maybe I’m thinking I have done a thorough job. In any case, reality emerges with the fact, “some things are simply unknowable.” I try to stop here or frustration will 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 tucked away yet some of its content is still resident in my memory.
As time passed, I resorted to writing summaries in hopes of encouraging new survivors. For some survivors, these ruminations have brought a level of PEACE. It could simply be knowing that one is not alone in this struggle. If I were to dig that original folder out today, I would relabel it “All I can ever know.”
Mixed theories live on in regard to the benefit and detriments they leave within an individual. Most therapist I have encountered suggest ruminating is detrimental in reconstructing a life after. I recognize that my personal case is unique in that I feel rumination was helpful for me to come away grounded. I attained a certain level of comfort from knowing I gave these questions my best effort. I reached this state, after many hours of paced counseling. Paced meaning not constant non-stop but scheduled reoccurring . . . like weekly.
I was fortunate to have three friends that were professional counselors (two of them Doctorates.) In addition, I have met and conferred with hundreds of survivors in face to face support groups over a couple of decades. In the end, this is just another area where we could find disagreement . . . some for and some against rumination.
There are certain aspects of any suicide that would best be avoided, since little can come from the effort. Things like witnessing or being the one to discover the suicide. There are aspects in any suicide that would best be avoided, when trying to regain emotional balance, in the after period.
Reality is tough to face up to . . . yet unavoidable. I personally fail to see how it can be locked away in your memory, and not seep out from time to time. I have encountered individuals coming to support groups that put off getting help for decades. And, I am certain 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 ongoing contributions we miss out on.
I can’t look at a family picture (this one 22 years ago now) without Joys and Sorrows struggling to gain control of my thinking.
FHAS-About Ruminations – V7-G-0718.2021