Robbie and I attended our second Survivor of Suicide (SOS) group Sunday evening. Our first one was at a different location. There are 3 that meet around Central Columbus – each one meets just once a month. It’s still surreal for us. As we got ready, locked up the house and headed towards the car we paused and looked at each other knowingly. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “welcome to our new fuckin life.”
I liked this second group we went to – I didn’t like the first one. The facilitator’s of the first group didn’t introduce themselves or share why they were leading an SOS group. Who does that? I want to know what you’re doing here… are you here just because it’s your job? Because you’ve read in some book about suicide grief? If so, I ain’t interested in listening to you. I normally would’ve asked how they had been impacted by suicide but I was especially pissy that evening so it was best I kept my mouth shut. I’m getting irritated just thinking about the leaders lack of eye contact as people were sharing their stories. Yuck.
The group we attended just a few days ago that I liked was run much differently. The leaders introduced themselves, they provided beverages, snackage, and free reading materials. We all shared who we lost, when we lost them, and if we were able how we lost them (no thank you). Then we talked a bit about “the first year” since there were 3 of us (me & Robbie + one other person) who were just at the 1-year mark. Everyone else there was 3+ years ahead of us in this grief journey. The leaders had each lost a son to suicide. It was nice to know why they were there.
When the group was over one woman asked me how I had survived a whole year without coming to an SOS support group. I got to share – once again – about what a wonderful church family I have. That’s such a foreign concept to the people I’ve met at these groups. Sometimes I just want to gather them all up in my arms and tell ’em how much Christ loves them and that there are normal people out there who love the Lord and want to do life with them!
As a survivor there’s a bond that’s present when I meet other people who have suffered a loss to suicide. Our pain is all unique but there are commonalities. One of the women had lost her boyfriend to suicide and she shared that just a few weeks ago her best friend died, too, but not from suicide. She said dealing with her best friend’s death has been so different. “So this is what it’s like to grieve more normally,” she said. “I don’t have to feel shame, responsibility or guilt in addition to all the sadness, pain and loneliness.” I was glad she shared that.
As we walked to our car Robbie & I agreed we’d go back to that group next month.