Losing someone to suicide catapults those left behind into a grief process that is raw, unexpected, and unpredictable. Questions about how this could happen, wondering what one could have done to help, questions about how someone could be so sad and desperate that they felt there was no other choice, can plague friends and family members for a lifetime. Grief after the loss of anyone is hard, a long, intimate process that takes time, and is different for everyone. For those mourning someone lost to suicide, the grief process is even more challenging; suicide deaths often come out of nowhere, are very traumatic, and carry the stigma and shame of mental health struggles with them.
Crystal Partney, the founder of Scattering Hope and Owl & Thistle, has dedicated her life to supporting survivors of suicide loss and creating support and resources for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts and ideations. Crystal is a suicide loss survivor herself, losing her sister to suicide a few years ago. That tragedy rocked her family to the core and forever changed the trajectory of Crystal’s own life, sending her on this new path to help others.
Through her two companies, Crystal provides support for those on both sides of suicide, people who are mourning the loss of a loved one to suicide, and those who may be in a place of darkness, offering loving support through a subscription box service. Having worked through this heartbreaking process herself, she is dedicated to giving others a place of light, a hand to hold, and someone to “walk with them” on this journey. Crystal offers some ways to help yourself if you are a survivor of suicide loss.
Take it a day at a time – There is no timetable on grief, no paint by number process, and no expiration date. Every single person will take their own time and steps to heal.
Reach out for support-call a friend – It can be hard to share what you are experiencing at this time. Feelings of guilt, anger, deep sadness, frustration, confusion, every day will be different. You do not need to be able to share everything about how you are feeling but allow people to support you. This might mean letting people stock your fridge with food, stop by with fresh coffee, and offer to take you to a movie. Do not let yourself get shut in and holed up alone all the time with your grief.
Find the right support team – This is made up of friends, family, and professionals. Grief, suicide, are immensely heavy and complex things to experience, and one must be willing to seek out support when they need it. If a grief counselor or support group is not working, then find another one. Stand up for yourself, and give yourself the right team.
Acknowledge emotions, good and bad – Crystal provides people with a journaling system in her boxes, one light teal and one dark. The teal one is a gratitude journal, to express happy thoughts and things one is grateful for, the other is darker, and meant as a place to release negative, and sad emotions, those that weigh one down and prevent one from moving forward in manageable steps.
Crystal has written a 30-day journal to walk people through the first month after a loss and is working on a new more detailed book about her story, and suicide loss and prevention. Her mission is to provide a light in the darkness and to help others as they find their way on the journey to healing. Connect with Crystal Partney through Scattering Hope, and Owl & Thistle to learn more about self-care, and the process of moving forward as a suicide loss survivor.