About Early Emotional Distress:
I remember the day, date, time and place, when I got the news. Only five words – over the phone . . . “Rebecca (then . . . a long pause) has taken her life,” and then silence. After that darkness fell.
My most baffling time ever. Having experienced Sudden Cardiac Arrest, CPR and AED Paddles - does not compare.
All of us have unique stories, yet some of our feelings are similar. Shock takes over – and then nothing matters.
Things were said that annoyed me . . . like time heals all wounds. At the same time, others would say nothing. Then there were sayings that made me mad . . . like “I know exactly how you feel . . . when my grandfather (or worst – my pet) died.”
The Massachusetts Troopers arrived with a local trauma group and they must have had something to say, but I don’t remember a word. Next the night manager and his staff walked in. The manager took over my classroom. He orchestrated initial phone calls, gathered my personal stuff, packed and storing my equipment, arranging my travel back to St. Louis, an escort back to my hotel, initiated checkout, along with arranging shuttle service to Logan Airport the next morning. It was as though he and his staff had done this before. With the passing years, I have come to appreciate what Lucent Technologies did for me, on that otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon.
It would be days before I could retain a coherent though. At that point I shifted into nothing really matters mode. I could not even do routine things. I was uncomfortable being with anyone and certainly did not want any help. I would tell people, “I was hiding out inside.” At that point . . . everything fell into the unimportant bucket.
After eighteen years, I still feel inadequate in expressing the emotions that swirled in my mind. My brain cells just could not work together.
Now, I know that I had nothing meaningful to share in those early months. I do not know a single thing that could have been changed nor anything that could have brought significant relief.
You have to give this whole thing some time, there is no other way I am aware of. But don’t believe that time alone will heal anything. That is a myth and can become a permanent barrier in discovering a new you. You never go back to “the way we were.”
Now (unless you are an exception) nothing I have shared will make sense for a while. The over-riding question for most is one word “why?” While you can never validate why these deaths occur, you along with everyone else will wonder and speculate.
It is human nature to make judgments. You will face questions and statements about why. This is something that just comes with the situation. I don’t have a solution for that, but I have developed coping skills to deal with the questions.
My suggestion for the beginning days, weeks, months . . . concentrate on listening and remembering (write them down) the positive things about your loved one, and there will be a lot of them. These stories will be important building blocks as to how you will remember (or think of) your loved one in the years ahead.
Know that there are no right things you should do or say. If you start off verbalizing your thoughts early on, you increase the risk of some of it coming back to haunt you. Generally saying little is best.
As soon as you hear negative stuff, turn your listening volume down, or off. You will exhaust your emotional gas tank quickly, if you get confrontational about all that stuff. Again, saying little is better. With some soul searching, you will be better able to balance your own thoughts and decided for yourself how you will remember and judge this situation over the long haul. And the only judgments that matter are your own. You can influence others, but you cannot change them. Always remembering that your emotional tank will run dry.
I am old and have experienced 3 different suicides. A co-worker, a best friend and my wife. That does not make me an expert on anything. But I have also listened to 100’s of others in survivor support groups over the years.
Two, of many common things regarding those first days – don’t make statements about your (disappointment, cause, blame) thoughts . . . other than “I am doing the best I can.” Avoid dialogue with others (most of whom will be ill prepared as well). Just say something like “I am not ready or prepared to discuss this right now.” You might also add “Maybe a little later.” Remember there will be those (family and close friends) you will be obligated to talk with, but it will still be better . . . much later. Then you will have had time to sort out the crowd that you told “maybe later.” Some will be in the category where “maybe later” could be forever. If you don’t do this you will accentuate your distress. . . (Again, if you are a typical survivor.)
We all have - to have - a pop-off person. Someone that will listen and have the time to allocate to you. You probably know who those individuals are.
Families Dealing With Suicide is by and large a benign place to start. Nothing is right or wrong here but avoid confrontations because they bring everyone down. Blessings, dJ
AboutEarlyEmotionalDistress-V-6 . . . 0418.2017