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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

Ask The Grief Experts

The unanswerable question: How your life might have unfolded had he not committed suicide? (6-14-11)


Anonymous from Nevada writes:

I lost my dad to suicide when I was twelve and now I'm sixty, and sometimes still find myself caught up on an emotional roller coaster when I allow myself to think about it. I realize that when this happened there were no support groups to go to and no one to talk to. At the time, anything to do with suicide was just not discussed and people (including clergy) completely avoided the topic at all costs including, my immediate family. However, some decades later, I stumbled across a support group that dealt with this sort of thing and decided to attend. I soon discovered that even though it happened long ago, the aftermath of emotions quickly surfaced as I began to talk. Initially, the group seemed to help, but the more I attended I began feeling overwhelmed by the dire sadness of hearing story after story of others who's losses were more intent and recent. You could hear and feel the pain handed to them by their loved one no longer here and how they too, were beginning a lifetime sentence of complex questions that would never be answered.

I have since, stopped searching for the answers because, there are none, and have tried my best to accept his final decision by agonizing over two realizations after much soul searching of my own. First, I realized that the pain he had been forced to endure for whatever reason, was just too much for him to bear any longer. Secondly, I'm sure had he realized that his pain would be passed onto his family, once he was gone, he may have had second thoughts about going through with it because, I believe anyone contemplating suicide isn't thinking about the aftermath afterwards. Instead, I think they are only thinking about ending their own pain and freeing others of any pain they have caused.

Thank goodness, I don't have to deal with this everyday anymore, but at times, it still catches me off guard and tries to take me down that most dreadful path, once again. I think the most difficult thing that I had to deal with was when I realized how my dad knew it would be his very last time that he would ever see me, but strange as it may sound, I have never been able to remember, that last time with him! Maybe, its a blessing in disguise for some unknown reason.

I will be getting your book soon and look forward to possibly finding a tool or suggestion to have to use in the event that I ever need it and wanted to write to thank both of you so very much for touching my heart with your unselfish words of wisdom!

Thank You!

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