You know I’m so happy Kate has written and asked these questions. I have been going through a transition these past few weeks: wrapping up my dissertation, adjusting to my new internship, seeing clients, lots of training, and awaiting feedback and edits from my ghost editor about my book…and I have had very little energy at the end of it to write. I also haven’t been sure about what people are interested in reading, what blog posts are helping, engaging, emoting, or interesting for everyone, so I am grateful for Kate’s questions because they are about exactly what she wants to know about and are giving me a focal point for writing. I’m going to put a section at the top of the page that says Questions and Contact — and if anyone has any questions about anything related to suicide, grief, surviving a sucide, my experiences, or any aspects of therapy — please write in and I will do my best to answer your questions. This blog is a place for me to express my self but I write mostly for others out there who are going through similar things, and they don’t necessarily even have to be about suicide….so I welcome your questions!!!

So here’s Kate’s comment and her questions:

Just wanted to stop in and say that I frequently check in on your blog as I struggle with my own loss to suicide. While I have been open to grieving and working through my feelings and acknowledging it since my loved one took his life in the winter, I feel like another wave has come upon me. Did you feel that too as it got closer and closer to a year? Do you think that suicide was John’s destiny? Do you think it is anyone’s destiny? That’s one of the issues I think about a lot. I don’t think it was my loved one’s destiny and that’s what I seemingly have been told when I went to a medium and I don’t know why I am so stuck on that issue. Maybe because by his act, he changed my own destiny substantially. Keep up the good work. I wrote a bit after he passed but haven’t been able to for months, might start again. Am looking into EMDR for my grief. Did you try that?

K.

Kate I am truly sorry for your loss and that you are in the midst of another wave of grief, they are so hard, sad, lonely, and blinding. The truth that I know though, if it’s any help, is that they pass, they are temporary. I definitely had new waves of grief hit me as the one year anniversary of John’s passing came around. It wasn’t too extreme for me though- because I had a lot of support while training for the suicide hotline, was learning so much and had also just moved to Los Angeles, so I was in a new environment and it was very therapeutic. Los Angeles has amazing sun light – brighter then anywhere I’ve ever seen in the U.S, and I was sitting on the beach a lot just staring at the ocean, and that helped too. But I did notice that as the anniversary of his passing came up, November 7th, and his birthday came up – November 1st — I was generally down and was still tearful just about every day. I was also writing about him every day and so that was on the one hand very cathartic and healing but on the other hand also very hard and painful. It wasn’t until a few weeks after the anniversary of John’s passing that I was hit with a huge tidal wave, tsunami of grief. That was when I was in New York and I wrote that entry for my book called In Between Worlds (which is posted on this blog somewhere either in August or July). It was another major dark night of the soul and I struggled with my old familiar existential pain: not wanting to be here anymore and wanting to be with John; I couldn’t bear another minute without seeing him or being with him. Somehow this passed and I moved through it. I continued to write and pour my heart out to John on the page. The a few weeks later I finished my first draft and had a MAJOR breakthrough that same day while I was at a Lady Gaga show….this is something I will for sure have to write about.

I have been wave free for around 4 months now. My last major wave of grief came at the end of May – about a year and a half after John’s passing. During that spell I purged a lot of stuff (and it was also thanks to watching Lady Gaga’s Alejandro video – – go figure – she must have some sort of key to my freedom – using the darkness as the doorway…) and was able to let go of a good chunk of my old self and of my fixation on understanding everything.

Everyone’s grieving process is different and so the exact timing of the waves of grief is different for everyone, but anniversaries and birthdays are especially hard times for most everyone. And our bodies also have a memory of the trauma and the anniversary of the trauma, so you might also experience some forms of lethargy, fatigue, or even illness. Once again, it varies from person to person. As the anniversary of John’s passing is soon approaching, I am noticing I am starting to feel some tremors of sadness and vulnerability; the raw realness of loss is fluttering through my system…slowly…something is coming…and something will be released…

Speaking of trauma- to skip to Kate’s last questions — I was just at a training for EMDR this morning, so it’s synchronistic that Kate asked about this. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is a modality of therapy that is usually used to treat trauma. And make no mistake about it — learning that a loved one has killed themself is a huge trauma. Our normal functioning of our brains and nervous system are interrupted and we are not processing information in the healthy way. Our bodies go into fight or flight mode and everything including thinking and appetite are disrupted. So EMDR therapy uses certain techniques – like tapping or using a specific eye movement technique — to help the reintegrate the pathways from different parts of the brain that have been interrupted.

WHile I personally have never done this quite of therapy work for myself, nor have I worked with any clients in this way, I have heard some amazing stories about how powerful and transformative this work can be.

Now about whether I think it was John’s destiny to kill himself and do I think it’s anyone’s destiny to kill themself ~ Yes I do think it was John’s destiny to kill himself. I also think it was both our destinies to experience this and that we decided to go through this before we got here and became John and Sarah. And we also decided to do this because he and I are now working together. He is on one side in spirit form and I am on the other side in human form. I tune in to him and he talks to me all the time (while sitting with clients or while writing…and at the grocery store, on the dance floor ,or wherever). It seems like we decided that this would be a stronger arrangement (what was I thinking???) for our work in the world. And since he now is one of my spirit guides, I guess it makes my connection to my guide all the more powerful that I’ve met and loved him in the flesh versus having guides whom I’ve never consciously met or seen. So yes it was his destiny – and he, in many ways, was hard-wired to self-destruct at a certain age, as he had suffered from childhood abuse, sexual abuse, childhood epilepsy, and narcolepsy. The man did all he could with the hand he was dealt: he was a state champion football quarterback in high school, ditto for weight lifting, ditto for track and field, drama, and choir. He was as gifted as he was cursed, and he had the biggest, kindest most loving heart of anyone I have ever seen or know (and I’m not the only one who says that: at his funeral the pastor and many others literally compared him to Jesus — it was pretty shocking). If John could have made his life work I know he would have because he tried and tried so hard, but it wasn’t his path to live longer than 30. It was his destiny to change all of our lives with his suicide. In one of my sessions with a medium, Felix- we talked about this, and what came up was that as scary and as weird as this may sound to some, in many ways his suicide was a sacrifice for the spiritual growth of others ( I will post this too after I transcribe it). His life on Earth was done. I feel that he was so loving and lived every moment so fully and with so much warmth and love that he fulfilled his purpose here in such a short amount of time. His life was about teaching  love. In this, he has been my greatest teacher. I still learn about love from him every single day.

Kate, I can’t say for sure about the destiny of your loved one, and I’m glad that you are mulling these questions over, as only you can really know what the purpose and meaning of all of this is in your life. But while I would never encourage anyone to take their life, I can see how some people have such huge burdens and no matter what they do or what you try to do to help them, their suicide somehow always feels like it’s lurking around the corner. It’s like they are programmed to self-destruct. The hard truth about surviving a loved one’s suicide and about work as a psychologist with suicide is that for some people – if they want to kill themselves they are going to do it no matter what. And yes, there are spiritual reasons for a person wanting to kill themselves and spiritual truths to be learned through living through someone else’s suicide. When someone very dear to you passes over from suicide it most definitely changes your destiny – and that is your destiny. The hard part is getting aligned with it and getting out of the darkness. And that’s where the spiritual growth and the healing and all other spiritual work comes in. And that too is part of your destiny.

I hope this helps…..please always feel free to write or ask me anything. I’m more than happy to answer what I know — and of course my answers may or may not be a right fit for everyone.

*** Sending strength and love ***

Transpersonal Suicide

September 14, 2010

I’m sorry I’ve been a little out of commission these days- I was visiting with family and friends in New York and am also getting adjusted to my new internship placement.

One thing that’s very exciting for me is that an article that I have been working on for three years – from before John passed over — has finally been published! It’s called:

Understanding the Motivation for Suicide from a Transpersonal Perspective: Research and Clinical Approaches

The article is about how some people make suicide attempts because they are looking to move from this earthly form of life into another more spiritual, heavenly realm that is reported to exist in the afterlife. Suicide is therefore not a movement to die, rather a desire for life to be different: utopianic, blissful, and more in alignment with spiritual ideals.  This was at the heart of John’s suicide.

The surprising thing is– there is NO scholarly literature within the fields of psychology or suicidology that discusses this. Some researchers are beginning to circle around these ideas. but no one has officially made the connection between suicide and a spiritual longing for home. So in the article I provide some overview of the literature already available and then some other literature that informs my ideas and is as close as I could find in order to help construct my point. I am excited that now these ideas are officially OUT there and other psychologists can access them! It seems that as the world is shifting, our understanding about suicide needs to shift so that we can better help those who are longing for something better and feel they have no other options than to die. How can we bring the transcendent that we envision and have trace memories of, down into our everyday mundane lives and become so fully embodied and aligned with our life purpose that we no longer seek death as our salvation?

The article is, of course, dedicated to my beloved John with the big blue eyes.