Grief and guilt

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In this blog, Jodie reflects on the loss of her sister and shares how finding communities of support, with people who share similar experiences, has been helpful for her.

Losing someone you love is heartbreaking. Losing someone you love to suicide adds an extra layer to the heartbreak with the never to be answered question – “why?”

Coming to terms with a loss

When my sister died, I found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with what had happened and why. I know that it wasn’t a choice, but a moment of complete despair which made her feel that she couldn’t go on. In the early days, I found it impossible to stop myself from feeling anger and guilt. Guilt that I didn’t know what she was going through and anger that she didn’t feel that she could call.

As the oldest sibling, you feel a sense of protection over your siblings and we had such a close relationship that I always thought she would talk to me if she ever needed anything. When she died, I felt as though I had let her down in so many ways.

It’s torture to think about every aspect of what she could have felt. Sometimes I put myself in her shoes and feel like I’m living her last day. The pain feels so real, it can really break you and leave you feeling incredibly low.

There still seems to be so much stigma around suicide and mental health, as well as the assumption that for someone to end their life, they must be depressed or have extremely low mental health. She was not like that, at least I don’t believe she was and I think I knew her well.

From my understanding now, after a long time of analysing so many details of what could have happened, she had a weekend where she felt her world has been ripped apart. She felt alone and upset and made the decision impulsively and suddenly. I know I will never fully know why, and that’s the hardest part to accept because the only person who knows is her.

“She would hate me to feel this way”

As the years are passing, I still have times where I feel this sense of guilt, but I have to remind myself when I feel like that that my thoughts are irrational, and she would hate me to feel this way. I remind myself of how complex what happened is and how the only thing I can do now, is continue to live life the best I know how so when I see her again, I can share every moment.

Grief throws you into this new life you never expected. We all know that life comes to an end, but never do you think you’ll lose someone you love so much so young. I’ve found a community I never wanted to be a part of, but I couldn’t be more grateful for.

I’m learning to be more comfortable talking about what happened and not feeling this sense of burden to others when I do. I’ve also found it useful giving myself projects and things to do that allow me to feel as though I’m doing something to raise awareness of suicide and support those who have lost someone to suicide too.

Finding your community

Learning how best to express your grief for you is important to make the days manageable and the pain bearable. Communities of those who understand, are for me, more valuable than they are given credit for. It’s incredible how someone who knows nothing about you but one of the hardest parts of your life can listen and support you in ways you didn’t know were possible. There is this underlying understanding of the pain and hurt; no judgement, just kindness.

And as we know only so well, in a world where you can be anything, be kind – it’s the easiest thing to do.


You can follow Jodie’s grief journey on Instagram: @living.with.loss_