A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide

By Alison Wertheimer | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Looking back

He was talking about suicide all that week and had actually threatened suicide…that was the most terrible thing of all and I just couldn't cope with it, I just couldn't handle it at all…I can remember saying, 'But you couldn't love me if you're saying you're going to leave me'… and to me it wasn't a reality, you see, that's the awful thing, to me he was just talking, I never really believed it, that's the terrible thing. (Lois)

You think, well, how could you be there and…it happen despite you being there? On the other hand, you're not almighty, and can't control everybody and everything. (Marie)

At times, people will take their own lives seemingly unexpectedly. Survivors may have been aware that the person had problems, but the death still comes as a complete surprise, as was the case with Caroline's family. To Robert and Pat, their daughter was 'a twenty-year-old who thought she should have a boyfriend and thought she should be thinner'; the weekend before she died, Caroline had said she felt unwell and had spent time in bed, but, as Robert explained, it never entered their heads that 'she was in trouble that way'.

For other survivors, despite the fact that the suicide is unexpected, when it happens it is as though all along they had been half expecting something like that. When Jane heard the news from America that her brother, Christopher, had died she remembers thinking that it had probably been a stroke or something similar: 'I was bracing myself to hear "coronary thrombosis" or "stroke"…I was summoning all my strength to hear something coming from a direction I expected it to come from.' But what she heard was that Christopher had taken his own life with a gun:

and it had never entered my head. He had never mentioned anything of this sort, never mentioned suicide. It was never a thought I had

-53-

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A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xiv
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Part 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Suicide: an Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Survivors of Suicide 17
  • Part 2 - Aspects of Suicide Bereavement 33
  • Chapter 3 - Meeting the Survivors 35
  • Chapter 4 - When the Suicide Happens 39
  • Chapter 5 - Looking Back 53
  • Chapter 6 - Why Did It Happen? the Search for Understanding 66
  • Chapter 7 - The Inquest 79
  • Chapter 8 - Funerals 90
  • Chapter 9 - Facing Suicide as a Family 95
  • Chapter 10 - The Impact of Suicide on Individual Family Members 108
  • Chapter 11 - Facing the World 124
  • Chapter 12 - Looking for Support 136
  • Chapter 13 - Facing the Feelings 149
  • Chapter 14 - Finding a Way Through 166
  • Part 3 - Responding to People Bereaved by Suicide 179
  • Chapter 15 - Meeting the Needs of Survivors 181
  • Chapter 16 - Groups for People Bereaved by Suicide 196
  • Chapter 17 - Counselling People Bereaved by Suicide 215
  • Postscript 237
  • Appendix 1 239
  • Appendix 2 244
  • References 247
  • Name Index 257
  • Subject Index 261
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