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Help is available for dealing with suicide

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Once upon a time there was a young man who had everything — a loving family, great friends, awesome teachers and so much more.

As he grew into his teenage years, his friends started making new friends, his parents got a divorce and he despised his teachers. Life just didn't seem so great after all.

Not knowing who to turn to, and feeling very alone, he decided that this world just wasn't worth it anymore.

Following his decision, his family was left to pick up the pieces. And, were left with many questions:

"Where did I go wrong?"

"Why didn't he come and talk to me?"

"If I'd only known how unhappy he was!"

"What do I do now?"

This young man didn't realize that the choices that he made had a huge effect on not only his family but those friends that he didn't realize were still his friends.

Many times we have people who have experienced this type of loss ask us the questions noted above. So much blame seems to fall on the shoulders of loved ones.

In our Survivors of Suicide Loss Group, the first thing that we tell the participants is: "It's not your fault!" and we let them know that there are others out there who have gone through the same type of loss.

After losing a loved one to suicide, your world seems small. It seems as though no one understands.

And, a lot of times families will deny the fact that the individual died by suicide. Family members go into hiding and don't want to talk about it. Some are even embarrassed.

Please — if you've experienced a death to suicide — know that "It is not your fault!" And even though it doesn't seem like it, there are others out there that understand and are very willing to help you through this rough time.

The individual who died is your loved one and you still love them. You may be angry at the choice they made, but — you still love them.

There are great organizations out there that offer help to families and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Grief Place-NCW Loss Support is one of those organizations. Several of our facilitators have made that journey and truly understand.

Please know — you are not alone.

Karen Sheppard is the executive director of Grief Place (griefplace.org). She can be reached at ksheppard@griefplace.org