How do we move forward? What do we do now? My life will never be the same! All of these are common questions individuals have after losing someone close to suicide. It is essential that they are asked as they are key to the recovery process. To often people want to keep these emotions bottled up and hidden from the world. They fear that they are weak or vulnerable but they couldn’t be more wrong.

How do we answer the question of moving forward? Moving forward is never a simple process and certainly won’t be easy. No one has a specific method that works for everyone. Simply getting up and putting one foot in front of the other is quite literally the first step. It is hard to put your emotions down and lift yourself back into the world. You have to find simple things that bring you joy. It is easy to get caught up in the gloom and pain after a loss and be dragged down further. Perhaps it is finding a support group and finding others who share a similar story, perhaps it is talking to a licensed therapist. It can be as simple as just finding a friend who will be your shoulder to cry on. It is just important that you find support somewhere. It is possible to do it alone but more often than not success is achieved with the help of friends or loved ones that will keep you focused, balanced and on track to recovery.

Asking yourself what do I do now can seem overwhelming. Normal every day activities can contain memories of your loved one that evoke emotions that are difficult to deal with. That is okay. Don’t push your emotions aside. Embrace your memories and try to remember the good and the difficult times. As you move through your emotions try to utilize that which brought you joy in the past. It is possible that you were so busy that you didn’t have many activities that brought joy. That is perfectly fine. If this is the case it is important to start trying new things. Discovery what brings you joy. Find one thing a week and utilize its experience to move forward. It can be something as simple as painting. Many people find painting therapeutic because of the creativity it allows and emotions that can be expressed within each piece. Maybe you prefer to be active which means you get back in the gym and start pumping some iron, running towards your weight loss goal or even practicing yoga. It doesn’t matter what you chose as long as you chose something and find a way to bring happiness into your life. It wont be instantaneous and trying something new can be stressful, but putting yourself in these positions can show you a world that you never knew existed.

Last when you say your life will never be the same you are absolutely correct. It will not be the same ever again. I’m not going to sugar coat it because that’s the reality of the situation. Speaking as a survivor everything you do will be different than it was before. You will find yourself feeling emotions you never knew existed and that is alright. Being male I was taught that letting your emotions show made you weak, made you vulnerable and even less of a man. Let me tell you they couldn’t be more wrong. The stigma of asking for help, showing your emotions and being vulnerable is an impractical and dated mindset. If you don’t allow yourself to feel your emotions in those moments and you bottled them up it is only going to prolong the recovery process.

To be honest I still feel emotions two years later that I didn’t know existed.

Something as simple as watching a TV show where an individual talks about their experience with suicide draws out emotions but I don’t stop myself from experiencing it. Whether you are male or female, husband or wife, single or married, student or business professional you have to allow yourself to feel your emotions. Don’t allow the societal pressures keep you from healing. It will be difficult but years down the road you’ll thank me.

Brad Hearst
Survivors Joining for Hope

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