I light a candle every year for those that have died by suicide. I also reflect on survivors and what we do to deal with the grief of our losses.
Suicide bereavement can be so difficult because the person had made that decision to walk out of their journey in life. The people who are grieving this loss are no longer the same. When someone you love dies by suicide, we as survivors are changed forever, sometimes in a negative way. That concerns us all. The pain can be so intense we could become at risk ourselves.
This is what I learned from the Elders. When we are born, we are given all the gifts we will ever need for our journey through this life. We walk the medicine wheel first as babies, then youth, adults and finally Elders. We are meant to walk this journey looking to the end of our lives in a good way. When we pass on, we go back to the Creator.
When we become Elders we pass on our knowledge and experience to those who need it. Our younger generation. Gifts freely given.
Suicide happened very rarely prior to colonization. There were altruistic suicides, where a person might give up their lives so other's might survive, but for the most part, they were rare. We had tons of coping skills and supports in our communities. We worked hard to survive.
When a person chooses to walk out of their intended journey, dying by suicide, they continue to stay in this world, unseen, until their intended or destined time to die. They are not punished, they wait for their time to join the Creator.
We can pray and attend ceremonies to help ease the spirit until it is their time to join the Creator. This helps the survivor to deal with their pain of loss.
When I heard this several times by respected Elders, it helped me to understand my role as a survivor.
In our Indigenous history, had many ways and opportunities to grieve our loss experiences. Right from the time we are babies and youth, we learned from our Elders.
So I think about life lessons and what I wished I had known. My parents were struggling to deal with their own trauma from residential schools so not much was said to us. We are products of our environment until we change it.
Here's some lessons that might have helped, I hope to pass these and other's on to those who might listen.