by Margaret Pelleriti, DBHIDS Suicide Prevention Task Force
What does it mean to have hope? Hope means a desire for things to change for the better, and to want that better situation very much. Hope carries us beyond the current hardship so that we may have a better future. In today’s world, it seems that hope can be hard to come by and this tends to be the case for anyone who has lost someone to suicide.
My name is Margaret and several years ago, I lost my son Michael, then 16, to suicide. Prior to my loss, suicide never really affected me. To me, it was always other people who faced that tragedy. Not something that would affect myself or my family.
When I lost my son to suicide, he was in the 11th grade and did not present any clear warning signs or clues. When he died, I genuinely believed that I would die also. There would be no way that I would be able to survive. I knew that I had to get up each day and do the same routine as before. I was still a wife to my husband and a mother to a 13-year-old daughter. It felt like family and friends expected me to return to some sort of normal. I had faith from going to church and a belief in God. However, my hope was lost and almost on empty back then. What I did have plenty of was anger. An anger that somehow needed to be fed and answered. But then a day passed into a day into a week into a month. Then a year that my son was gone. Hope felt distant.
What changed? I did. I slowly started to stop blaming and hating myself. In the beginning I wanted answers. Just like in today’s world, sometimes there are no answers. I started going to therapy and writing down my feelings. Writing became such an important outlet for me, something that I could share only with myself. I began to lean into my faith through prayer. I read inspiring books. Meditation helped center me. Slowly, hope felt obtainable. I felt that I was able to start moving forward, inch by inch.
This time last year, I was working in a hospital and I was sent home “for a few weeks.” That was March 16, 2020 and I still have not been back. After a few months passed and we were isolated from people, I felt empty, lost, and falling away from people and everyday routines. Suddenly in October, Michael’s father died from a massive heart attack. I recognized that feeling of hopelessness creeping back. I started therapy a few weeks later. I used what I knew worked for me.
We all need to be truthful and address whatever is inside of us. The longer that we don’t get the help that we need, the longer hope eludes us. I had lost my hope a few times during personal crisis, but I kept believing I would be able to get through it. This year has been trying but I have been seeking help, writing, and giving back to others (even virtually!). Hope lives and breathes if we continue to believe it does. In each of us. Hope comes in the form of a word called tomorrow. Perhaps during these trying times, we can all try to be someone’s HOPE.
Have you lost someone to suicide?
The Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Groups help loss survivors cope, connect, and work toward healing. Trained group facilitators are suicide loss survivors who know, firsthand, how difficult it can be to find your way after losing someone to suicide. The groups are open to anyone 18 years or older who is grieving a loss due to suicide. The groups are free and confidential.