Silence of Grief is Epidemic

Approximately 33,300 people take their own lives every year, leaving behind loved ones desperate to understand why this happened. I, too, was left with endless questions after the suicide of my 18-year-old son.

My previous exposure to grief-related material left me offended and unsettled. Much of what I consumed expressed a very watered down explanation of what I was actually experiencing. I wasn’t sure if I was being lied to, tricked or was hypersensitive and over-reactive. Either way, I was absolutely unprepared for the many faces of grief.

How could something as epidemic as grief be treated as not a big deal? Why were people not shouting about the one thing six billion people on this planet will at some point meet head on? This was just wrong, ignorant and dangerous.

Grief is a silent killer that should be added to the list of what kills everyday people. It is a heart attack and rotting cancer. The silence of grief is the real epidemic. I asked myself, “What is the cure?” It has to be awareness!

In other words: LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

Alone, scared, tortured and desperate – these were the feelings that accompanied me at the very bottom of grief. And at the very bottom is where my new life began. That is where I decided to just let it happen. I just allowed myself to be completely immersed in whatever the process was or would be. The determination to stand side-by-side with grief is what saved my life. Only after surrendering to grief did I receive the answer to why my only son took his own life.

Looking backwards through my experience, I knew that there was a void of spiritual awareness in association with grief. And, once I got past the religious myth that “people who die by suicide go to hell,” my experience with death turned into a new world of exploring more truths about suicide (such as a suicide soul still lives forever).

The saturation of these new truths forced my mind to no longer reject what my soul knew was true, that my son was really making appearances. For both of us, I needed to make peace with what was. And finally, with my son’s persistent loving words, I let go. I knew this wasn’t an entirely new concept but I felt strongly about sharing my take on it with the world. And especially with those ridden with despair and confusion about where their loved ones go when they chose to end their own lives.

Grief doesn’t discriminate either. It’s universal. It goes unnoticed until you go on a rampage looking for how to deal with and survive it. The survival of grief is not meant to be one of despair, mental illness, isolation or total disconnection from an amazing progressive life; I am living proof of that.

I now live a rich, peace-filled life because of my exposure to this powerful combination of both spiritual awareness and the truths about suicide. My grief earthquake literally turned me into a writer.
Surviving grief convinced me to tell people the guttural, ugly and beautiful truth about grief from the truest place within my soul.

This body of work was initially about transferring what I was feeling onto paper as a daily therapeutic writing exercise during my grief transitions. I felt safe on paper, safe enough to literally tear through the pages sometimes with my pen. This safe place allowed me to expel emotions that were old and suppressed, new and grief-related, and always raw and uncensored.

One day, maybe six months after I began to journal daily, I found the courage to read what I wrote. I was shocked, scared and turned on at the same time. I knew I had given life to words that might need to be read by others experiencing grief.

The uncertainty of how to format an entire book from raw, uncensored, journal entries forced me to only think about writing the kind of book that may have helped me when I was trying to figure out what was going on with and around me. Instead of telling people what to expect (i.e., the traditional steps of grief), I decided to just tell the story in hopes that you the reader might find the truth about your grief earthquake. Being a novice griever left me exempt of what grief really felt like and this was the part that ran me over.

The book that resulted, Grateful for Grief, is, I hope, an inspirational self-help tool with end-of-chapter affirmations that send uplifting messages to the reader’s grieving soul.

Monique Antoinette 2011

Monique Antoinette

More Articles Written by Monique

Monique Antoinette is a new author who fell in love with her grief after the suicide of her only son. As a Life Coach she continues to inspire people to follow the grief experience created especially for them through Transformative Grief Conversations. In other life areas she encourages her clients to transform their lives by first honoring the truth about who they really are, not apologizing for it, then deliberately creating a ridiculously, beautiful life from that point. Monique Antoinette, a creative entrepreneur is also the owner of a new specialty dessert company moniqueantoinettesdesserts.com. With her culinary skills she has created America’s New Dessert, “The Cobbler Cookie Collection.” This new dessert delivers comfort and healing to the soul. This new venture sprang forth during her ride with grief.

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  • Linda Pountney says:

    Monique
    Thank you for writing about the silence. It has been my experience in life and in support group work, that people need to talk about their grief and sometimes actively listen to what others have to say to heal. Awareness may only come from experiencing a loss, but I believe we can all make a difference by explaining to others the need for open communication about what grieving people are feeling. Unfortunately this is more difficult to do when in the midst of a deep grief. Let’s all open the hearts and minds of others whenever possible.

  • Julie Hidle says:

    My 17-years old son, loving, kind, and obedient to us committed suicide on June 2010. I cried to the Lord, asking why? But He gave me peace that no one can give when He showed me my son standing beside the Lord Jesus. Read my story at http://www.amazingchanges.com/bubba.html

    My the Lord Jesus give everyone who lost a love one here on earth. But be assured all children go to Heaven.

    In His Loving Arms
    Julie Hidle

  • Linda,
    Thank you for reaching out with words of experience and compassion. How to survive grief courses are not pre requisites for living life, so, only a small few reach out when they’re run over by this epidemic. My voice, determined spirit, and pen are here to spread Pre-Awareness!

  • Julie,

    I made an attempt to read your story while standing up. After a few sentences I was sitting down taking it all in. Thank you for prompting a place within me that allowed me to focus on the peace I now share too, in that my beautiful son is in heaven with God. I am astonished at your faith commitment so early on. It will assist you during your relationship with grief.

    The religious myth, “that people who die by suicide go to hell”, literally drove me into a mental institution before I found the courage to question what eventually set my soul free forever. Thank you for sharing your courageous story with me, it added more joy to my day.

  • Carmen says:

    I lost my son January 8th 2010 a year that literally tore me and still is tearing me apart. Let’s see my son Steven Fleming died January 8th at the age of 19,would have been 20 January 30th and dealing with the holidays before this and knowing these days were coming was a nightmare. I still feel empty but know that i have 3 other children i love just as much as i did him. I have lost friends thru this ordeal who i guess did not know how to deal with me. I almost lost my husband who, also did not know how to handle me (i was told) but as i have said i have no idea of how to act how to control my outbursts when they come(atleast up until 5months ago)my husband was step-dad to my son and loved our son like his own and both referred to each other as father and son.(He called him dad).My struggle has been on my own which caused me to not fully grieve. I put my game face on for home,work and the world because i know that am i the glue so to speak for my family. I still deal with reality issues here a year later. For some reason i feel like he’s still out there and maybe he is atleast in the spirit realm. But dealing with the realty for me is like reliving this horrible dream that i can’t wake up from. My son accidentally shot himself with a friend with him. I often find myself asking if it really and truly were an accident. Then i think does it really matter? Either way he’s gone. My emotional battle continues……..

  • Monique Antoinette says:

    Hello Carmen,
    I’m so glad you reached out. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are like the rest of us; we question how to manage our own personal grief. You putting on game face and forging through your life is more than okay to do. Some of us don’t have a choice. And sometimes grief makes a choice for us. It did so for me. Like you, I was the family glue in my childhood and adult life. Somehow I managed okay, until grief showed up. You see, I was a rookie at grief. Its power knocked all the Alfa-female strength I used to direct myself through life right out of me. And finally I just surrendered and let it have its way. That surrender took about a year and three months. During that time, my husband and daughter were physically separated from me. My grief was enormous! Most people thought I was crazy for not protesting their exits’ and what looked like betrayal. I knew that I was dying inside and was useless to them anyway, so being selfless meant letting them go.

    Eventually we all began to heal in our own way and found our way back to each other. I have written about this in my book Grateful For Grief Seasons of Transformation, A Self Help Inspirational Memoir. You may want to purchase a copy at http://www.gratefulforgrief.com. It will add comfort to what you’re living right now.

    I believe that everyone experiences grief in their own special way. Not allowing this tailor made experience to happen just ads more trauma to what is already going on within you. I remember wanting to scream and tear up everything in the room. So, guess what, when it was safe that’s exactly what I did. Putting the room back together gave me more time to cry to the bottom of my tear ducks. It just felt good to let go-just for a little while until it was time to return to my emotions.

  • Pat says:

    Hi,
    Thanks all for sharing your stories. I lost my only child (he was 34 yrs old) to suicide June 2008. This 2nd year has been harder on me they the 1st. I know it is healthy to share my tears with others, but honestly, I don’t want to share this pain with anyone I care about. It even feels bad to share it with my drs. It is SUCH a horrible pain & I why would I want anyone to know how bad that feels. It doesn’t do any good & honestly, there isn’t anything that can ease the pain of losing my only baby. He was the light of my life. Being a mom was the best part of my world. My Kenny had been diagnosed with T.N. (a horribly painful condition from a nerve in your head that goes bad with no cure) He was a brilliant scientist that was passionate about music. The meds they put him on took the spark from my precious boy. I guess he was afraid of what the future would bring.
    My grief is starting to scare me; I can cry when I’m alone until I get to the point of falling on the floor & completely losing it. I’ve turn it off so many times just b/f getting to the point of falling down b/c I’m scared to death that I won’t be able to get up. I’ve going to grief counseling, support groups, am on Cymbalta for my fibromyalgia & depression and nothing is touching this fear of opening that scary door to the middle of my grief b/c I’m so sure I won’t ever be able to get up again.
    Sorry for this long ( & probably confusing) post….I’m glad for all of you moms that can find some peace. I just don’t think I’ll ever find any.
    Thanks for listening…
    Pat