The Survivor Experience: Part 4: Love

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Original Article from the Alliance of Hope 


It has been said that suicide is like a “grenade going off within a family or community,” In the aftermath, survivors are left pofoundly wounded and deeply distressed. Many grapple with debilitating emotions, altered relationships, and challenging responsibilities. Each situation is unique, but some issues are commonly shared by survivors.

Research tells us that it is helpful to know about common survivor reactions. Being informed does not make the reactions disappear. That will take time … a probably a good deal of grief-work. It will help though, to know that what you are feeling is commonly felt by other survivors and that it is possible to survive and go beyond just surviving. Over the next few days, we will bring you information about common survivor issues.


Beneath all the feelings of shock, guilt, anger and grief, there is an underlying love that survivors have for the one who has departed. It hurts so much because we loved them so much.  They will never cease to be deeply treasured parts of our families and our lives.

Fr. Charles Rubey writes about this love:

“Because there is such deep love for these dearly departed people, I am suggesting that survivors concentrate on the fact that their loved ones are no longer struggling but are at peace. Try to imagine them totally at peace and free of pain.

We want only what is best for our loved ones and freedom from pain for these tortured souls is a gift beyond measure.  Granted there are other means to achieve freedom from pain such as medication or other types of therapy but these loved ones honestly and sincerely thought that the only way out of this ocean of pain was to take their life.  They were not acting out of malice.  They were acting out of desperation.

Granted that they left behind a wake of pain and disruption. They did not want this effect.  Their mind was so distorted and engulfed in pain that they thought that they were doing the right thing.  They had no idea of the destruction that they were leaving behind.”

Members of our community frequently express their love:

“Why does it hurt so much? Because we loved them so much.  Our children became a part of our lives and from the moment they were born brought us joy, happiness, laughter, amazement, sometimes tears and anger, frustration … “

“The love of my life shot herself.  I’ve never been a religious person, not even a spiritual person.  However, I’ve found myself talking to her on a daily basis, telling her that I love her and how sorry I am for everything.”

“I sat awhile at the grave site.  I don’t cry when I go there anymore.  If it’s possible, I think I am cried out.  But I talk to him and tell him I love him. —  The funny think is when I was leaving the cemetery, I saw deer which is odd because it’s in a built up area.  I just watched them and said:  Thank you.  They are beautiful.  —  Where we used to live we would watch the deer in our backyard all the time.”


Click here to read other Parts of The Survivor Experience:

Part 1: Crisis of Faith
Part 2: Anger 
Part 3: Sadness, Depression and Despair
Part 4: Love
Part 5: The Journey
Part 6: Secondary Wounds
Part 7: Shock
Part 8: Stigmatization