grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand sign

Why Bother Breaking the Silence Barrier?

The one traumatic event, of my father ending his life, did not define my whole life, but it certainly left a large impression. 

      Different and Yet the Same

It is when someone reads my book, one of a my blog posts, attends a book reading,  listens to one of my interviews, or hears me speaking at an event that they discover my back story; surviving the death of a loved one by suicide. As a result of hearing my story, they may decide to connect with me to tell me their story.

Whether it is the death of a father or son, mother, or daughter, brother or sister, suicide survivors have something in common. We have the desire to break the barrier of silence. 

Suicide survivors know that not everyone understands the personal anguish that follows in the wake of a suicide. But those who are left behind when someone ends their life, discover that they stand on common ground with others who’ve been left behind too. But, unless someone reveals that they too are a suicide survivor, no one will ever know. Though suicide still carries a stigma, suicide survivors are not marked with a scarlet letter.  

When someone breaks the silence barrier and shares their story with me, I count it both a joyful and humbling experience. There are those who begin their story with caution revealing only a few details. It’s as though talking about it is too awkward. They’ve been silent for so long that to share anything at all, even just a little bit, is too much. 

Others who begin their story find they can’t stop talking about it. It’s been inside of them for so long, and gone unspoken for so long that when they finally find someone who can relate to them, they feel a sense of relief. Finally, they are free to speak the unspoken family secret with another person who can understand their grief. 

I think that the title, suicide survivor is an appropriate description for people who are like me.  We’ve  lived through a family trauma and survived not only a great loss, but have endured a great and sometimes debilitating  silence. 

Why bother breaking the silence barrier? It takes courage to survive trauma, and it takes brave souls to tell just exactly how they survived.

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