My response: My friend, you say you're having thoughts of suicide and you can't stop thinking about ending this hell. Keep in mind that whatever thoughts and feelings you're having are neither right or wrong, good or bad, and they're not always rational – they just are, and for your own mental health it's important to acknowledge them and express them. I want to commend you for doing exactly that: acknowledging and expressing your thoughts of suicide. Many if not most grieving people have those very same thoughts, but they are terribly afraid to share them for fear of being regarded as over-reacting or crazy, or for fear of scaring other people.
I can assure you that thoughts of suicide are not at all unusual when you are grieving. Because your loss is so recent and your grief is so raw, you may have the pessimistic belief that things will never get any better, as if life and living are useless and pointless. Of course it is difficult to imagine life without your beloved spouse, and your feeling a compelling need to end this agony of grief is completely understandable. Remember, though, that there is a vast difference between thinking about suicide and actually acting upon such thoughts. In grief, thoughts of suicide are usually fleeting and reflect how desperately you want the pain of loss to end. You say you have children who don't deserve to lose another parent, so a part of you knows that suicide is not an option, and I want to suggest to you if that alone is your reason for hanging on right now, then accept it and let it be enough.
You say you wonder if you will make it through this grief of yours. Simplistic as it may seem, the way you'll make it is by doing it one day at a time, and if that is too much, you do it one hour and even one minute at a time. One fundamental truth that I hope you'll accept is that there is no right or wrong way to do this thing called grief. There is only your way, and you must discover that way for yourself. Others can share with you all the things we've learned and done and tried to help ourselves along the way, but it is up to you to pick and choose what works for you and discard what does not. Just know that to do nothing, to simply let time pass as if "time heals all wounds," is only to delay the work that needs to be done. The passage of time does nothing to heal grief – it is what we do with the time that matters.
So I encourage you to read all you can find about grief, so you will know what is normal and to be expected on this grief journey of yours, you'll be better prepared for what lies ahead, and you'll know what you can do to manage your own reactions. See especially the Death of a Spouse page on my Grief Healing Web site. Follow some of the links listed there and learn what is unique about this special kind of loss. Contact your local hospice or hospital to find out what bereavement resources are available in your community. Find a grief counselor and/ or an in-person support group. Visit and read some of the many blogs written by widows/widowers on the Web. Let your physician know that your prescription medication is not working for you and see if together you can find something that does.
If you still find yourself continually thinking of suicide, read this first. And if you are experiencing serious suicidal thoughts that you cannot control, please stop now and telephone 911 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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Related Articles and Resources:
- Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention
- Now Matters Now
- SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
- Thinking About Suicide - Don't Do It And Here Are Some Reasons Why by Bill Bailey
- Robin Williams and The Door by Kelley Lynn
- Finding Help for Suicidal Thoughts by Marty Tousley
- Young Widow Overcomes Her Death Wish by Michele Neff Hernandez
- All The Days Of My Life by Barbara Mason
- Chicken Noodle Soup by Kelley Lynn
- For the Times That You Want to Stop by Janine Eggers
- Ending It: Sometimes You Want To But Don't by Bob Baugher
- The Day I Contemplated Suicide by Louise Lagerman
- Suicide Search by Janine on Widow's Voice
- Grief: Why Am I Still Here? by Jan Warner
- Widow Fears Sharing Thoughts of Suicide by Marty Tousley
- Will I Be Committed To a Mental Hospictal If I Tell My Therapist about My Suicidal Thoughts? by Stacey Freedenthal
- Suicidal Thoughts: Know Signs and What to Do by Tamara Hill
- Know the Warning Signs of Suicide by American Association of Suicidology
- Surviving A Spouse's Suicide by Marty Tousley
- Waking Up: Climbing Through The Darkness book by Terry Wise