When your husband, or life partner, dies by suicide your life is turned completely upside down and finding up, finding balance, finding yourself, becomes a monumental challenge. I know this because it happened to me, and I created this website to be the resource I wish I had had. FindingUp is designed to follow the journey from the shock and trauma of new loss, through the practical chaos, and grieving, and finally, to the new self that emerges out of the ashes. It is primarily an educational tool to help you gain perspective on your experience, but it also connects you to lots of other forms of support, such as places where you can talk about your grief and organizations that can help you get things done. It is designed for women, but has lots of content that may be relevant to other suicide loss survivors.
The journey through our loss, and this website, is loosely divided into three sections. You may or may not connect with this form of organization, but I definitely hope that in wandering around the site, you find things that help you. Do not worry about meeting some kind of timeline for your healing, or going through steps A, B, and C. You have to do this your way, and this site is only one possible perspective on the task at hand. That said, you will find the site most helpful if you focus on the section that best reflects where you are right now.
The Beginning is for that early period of shock, when your mind isn't working well, yet so many practical problems are pressing down on you. And if you have children, they are in crisis and you find yourself pulling from some unknown reserve of strength to take care of them. In this section you will find help coping with the crisis, dealing with practical issues, fighting for your well-being, and taking care of your family.
The Middle is for the dark months of adjustment after the crisis of the first year, before you feel like you start to see the light of day. For me these were particularly difficult months. In this section you’ll find guidance on walking through the grief process and understanding the change and evolution you may be experiencing.
The last part of the journey is when you finally find up, and find yourself, but maybe you find her in an entirely new place than before the suicide. It explores the way this experience may have thrown significant parts of your life into transition, and the role of trauma in forging a new, stronger self through a process of transformation psychologists called post-traumatic growth. This section of the site will only feel right and helpful after you’ve walked the earlier steps and I sincerely encourage you not to jump ahead in your reading any more than you can, or should, jump ahead in your healing. The early sections have plenty of links, reading suggestions, and resources to accompany you until you are ready for what’s next.
Lastly, FindingUp also has Resources that you, as a spousal suicide survivor may find helpful, and an About page that tells you about me and gives you my contact information. You can navigate through the site by following the links in this section, the menu icon in the left corner, or the links at the bottom of each page.
For some reason, American men are dying by suicide in record numbers. Since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control found that 29% of all suicides are in men ages 45-64, particularly Caucasian men. The CDC’s May 2013 report compared suicide victims of both genders and all ages and found that among men, the most dramatic increase was in the years between ages 50 and 59, an average of 48.6% since 1999. Men in their 50's are statistically more are likely to die by suicide than in automobile accidents. Older men have historically been the group most likely to die by suicide, but middle aged men have caught up, leaving thousands of women a year to cope with the crisis, raise children, and manage financially at a time in the lifespan before Medicare and Social Security kicks in to provide a safety net. And younger families are also at risk. Suicide is the third leading cause of death of men 35-44 and the second leading cause of death of men in their twenties. A 2011 issue of the British Columbian Medical Journal literally called the phenomena a silent epidemic because of its high incidence and substantial contribution to men's mortality, and silent because of a lack of public awareness, a paucity of explanatory research, and the reluctance of men to see help.
Many causes have been blamed for the rising suicide rate among men. Researchers have looked at the economy and job losses, the rising divorce rate, the decline in organized religion, the rise in the abuse of prescription pain medications, alcoholism and illegal drug use, loneliness, our culture’s traditional socialization of boys to hide and suppress their feelings, and the estrangement of poorly educated white men from larger economic trends. Any and all of these are part of the problem. At the end of the day, however, we just don’t really know why it’s happening, and your partner’s situation was likely different from mine. It is cold comfort to know that you aren’t alone, but you aren’t. FindingUp is for and about you, however, not your partner, and I hope it gives you solace and empowerment. After all, we only have one place to go from here, up.