International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: A Day of Healing and Support

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By Denise Holcomb

What does it truly mean to be a survivor? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a survivor is “a person who continues to live, despite nearly dying,” and “a person who can continue living his or her life successfully despite experiencing difficulties.”

In essence, a person who lives on after the death of a loved one is a survivor. International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is Saturday, November 20. This day was designated by the United States Congress as a day where friends and family join and remember those whose loved ones died by suicide.

November 20 represents a day for healing and support. Many around the world have found this day to bring a special sense of memory to such a devastating loss through knowing that others share the pain, no matter how long ago the death occurred. It’s a moment where something as simple as making a project, like an ornament, in that person’s memory can bring a sense of serenity for a moment. People also find ways for comfort by placing a loved one’s special color ribbon around a tree or even releasing a balloon in their memory. It is the gathering of like people in one place with one thought in mind, TO REMEMBER!

Think about what you would like to do as a special memory of your loved one. Maybe have a small group gathering, or attend an event which will take place in your neighborhood or virtually in other parts of the world. Every year the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) hosts events globally; visit the AFSP website for more information. Home | AFSP

Some may not be at that place of making a memory or creating something special. That’s okay; it’s grief. Healing takes time. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve, just make sure you continue to take care of yourself as grief can also affect you physically.  Also, give yourself permission to seek professional help if you need it. As the holidays are approaching, grieving may get harder or return, don’t deny it. Instead, try and work through it in a positive way, surround yourself with family, friends, and colleagues. Fight the urge to want to be alone. Seek out a support group for survivors where you feel safe enough to express your feelings.

It’s okay. Just know you are not alone.

Visit the Removing the Stigna (RTS) website for more information at https://www.rtstigma.org/

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