7/27/15

encounters of the awkward kind; when others haven't heard about your loss


Maybe it’s a phone call asking for your spouse/partner. Or you bump into an acquaintance in the market. Or at a social gathering. And the other person hasn't yet heard about your loss.
These unexpected encounters with someone who isn't aware of the death can be especially difficult, leaving you feeling:

- Discomfort as you struggle with how to reply.

- Possible pain at hearing your partner’s name brought up.

- Resentment as you feel compelled to take care of the other person’s reactions of shock and embarrassment.

Here are some ways to respond to unexpected queries about your spouse/partner:

Calls From Friends (“So, how is…?”)
With a friend who hasn’t heard about the death, try replying, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this but he/she died (give approximate date).”

Unsolicited Business Calls (“May I speak to…?”)
If you don’t recognize the caller, screen the call by first asking the person to identify themselves. Putting the caller off with “(your spouse/partner) isn’t here right now.” may only trigger a return call. Try, “Unfortunately, he/she is deceased.”

Face-to-Face Encounters (“So, how is…?”) Keep it simple. One response might be, “This has really caught us both off guard. Briefly, here’s what happened…” If you’d rather avoid going into details, you might say, “I can’t really talk about it right now. I’ll be in touch when I’m up to it.”

Remind yourself that with time, you’ll gain skill at handling these inevitable situations.

7/23/15

lost my partner to suicide; part 3: more tips for lifting the burden off yourself




In Part 2 of these excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?, we suggested ways you could relieve yourself of some of the guilt you and your family may struggle with as a result of your partner’s suicide.

Here are additional important points to consider:

1) Children tend to blame themselves when a parent dies, even though they may not express it openly or be aware of it themselves. Recognizing this can be difficult, because, unlike most adults, children show they’re upset by their behavior, rather than by talking. A child may especially prone to self-blame, in the case of suicide. Children need to be given simple, truthful explanations of what has happened. It’s best to tell them how it happened, or they will fantasize about all sorts of frightening possibilities. Consider having your child/children work with a mental health professional to deal with this trauma.

2) Because it’s common for family members to blame the surviving spouse for either causing or not preventing the suicide, it’s helpful to talk about your feelings with supportive people outside your family. Join a specialized support group, if there is one available. The American Association of Suicidology (suicidology.org), provides information to survivors about support groups, books and specialists. Also check out Survivors of Suicide Loss (soslsd.org) for support options.

3) Despite the feelings of shame it may bring, it’s best to be truthful with yourself and others about how your spouse/partner died. Creating a face-saving “cover-up” will only complicate and further delay working through your mourning process.

4) As clergy, in general, have become more aware of and influenced by the field of psychology and suicidology, they’ve developed more sensitivity to the issue of suicide. If you’re otherwise comfortable talking with your religious advisor, you can turn to them despite an “official” doctrine about suicide.

5) Write your feelings in a journal or as a letter to your spouse.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you or someone you know is seriously thinking about taking his/her own life, tell someone immediately! Call the Operator to reach your local suicide hotline and/or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org to talk to a trained telephone counselor 24/7.

7/20/15

lost my partner to suicide; part 2: lifting some of the burden off yourself


In part 1 of these excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? we discussed many of the common reactions you, as a survivor, may have experienced due to your late partner’s suicide.

Here are ways to relieve yourself and your family of some guilt:

1) Your spouse/partner exercised a choice and ultimately was the only one to have the power to act on that choice. If there was anger at you or anyone else, there were more effective ways he/she could have chosen to communicate feelings.

2) You are not to blame for something as complex as another person’s act of suicide. A multitude of factors, such as personality, self-esteem, family history, and the ability to deal with life’s stresses all contributed to your partner’s behavior.

3) You may be turning the anger you feel about your spouse/partner’s abandonment inward onto yourself. This can take the form of guilt and self-blame at being helpless to stop a suicide. It is not disloyal to be angry at people we love when their actions cause us pain.

4) A suicide note reflects only what your spouse/partner happened to be feeling at the time it was written. Try not to view it as a generalization about your entire past relationship.

Look for more tips in Part 3.

7/16/15

lost my partner to suicide; part 1


(Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?)

Part 1

You as the Survivor

“She seemed okay. Why didn’t she tell me she was feeling so depressed?”

“He often said life wasn’t worthwhile, but I didn’t think he’d ever kill himself.”

The aftermath of suicide can be especially difficult to cope with because it can leave you, as a survivor, feeling:

- Confused, guilty and self-blaming about why this act was committed or that you may have been responsible.

- Believing that you weren’t valuable and/or powerful enough to prevent someone choosing to die.
- Shamed by the attitudes and questions of family, friends and the police.

- Concerned about your clergyperson’s reaction, as some religions regard suicide as a sin.

- Worried about what to tell your child/children about the circumstances.

Expect your mourning process to take somewhat longer, because of the added burden of all of the above.

In Parts 2 and 3, we’ll offer ways to cope with all of the above.

7/13/15

handling household repairs; part 2: resources


As we discussed in Part 1, it’s a good idea, whether you choose to tackle household repairs and maintenance yourself, or hire someone, to become as informed as possible about the problem.

Here are some websites you might find helpful:

http://www.hometime.com/: based on the PBS TV series Hometime, this site offers a video library as well as an archive of how-to-articles from experts.

http://www.diynetwork.com/: based on the TV cable channel DIY Network, this site also provides advice from experts on various home improvement and maintenance projects.

http://www.ehow.com/: Go to their How-To/Home & Garden/ Home Repair & Maintenance page for tips on how to fix household problems.

You might also look at these reference books at your local library or bookstore:

Readers’ Digest 1001 Do-It-Yourself Hints and Tips by Readers’ Digest

Black & Decker The Complete Photo Guide to Homeowner Basics by Jodie Carter & Matthew Palmer


Discovered more sites and/or books? Please let us know!