Funeral After a Suicide

April 29, 2016— Minneapolis, MN

After what had been a week of gray, rainy, cold days, it felt amazing to feel the sunshine again. It should have been a day to rejoice, to be outside listening to the children play on the nearby playground; and yet I found myself sitting in a chapel staring down at a picture of what appeared to be a happy man. Suicide sucks.

I looked at his picture and felt the pain his family must be feeling as we prepared to say our final goodbyes to him. He was a son, a friend, a husband, and a father. He was 38 years old—too young to say goodbye.

As I waited for the service to commence, I was overwhelmed by the memories of losing my dad. I was suddenly reminded of the all-consuming, intense, and raw pain of feeling like my heart had been ripped from my chest, and that I might not ever fully be able to catch my breath again. My eyes filled with tears as I watched this man’s wife prepare to say goodbye.

Suicide Sucks for the Children

Their oldest daughter was only 19, just one year younger than I was when I lost my dad. I watched their two young daughters play with their friends. They were too young to fully understand the gravity of all that was happening around them, and for that I was grateful.

The service began; with his mother standing next to his father, his father spoke of him. He spoke of the son he raised. His pain intensified as he described losing his son too soon.

His best friend approached the podium to speak. He described their friendship with humor, and then described how his best friend had been there for him when his wife died by suicide three years earlier.

Suicide Sucks, but it Does Not Define Someone

His words were powerful and shocking. By speaking so openly about suicide, he gave everyone permission to be real about how we lost this man. He spoke of all the pain suicide causes, and all the joy it robs us of experiencing.

Throughout his message he would say, “Suicide sucks,” and then continue telling us more about how it had impacted his life, and the impact it can have on everyone it touches. He prepared his message well. It was beautiful. What I took away, as the most important thing he wanted us to remember, was that suicide isn’t who his friend was.

His friend was an amazing son, friend, husband, and father. Suicide stole him from us. Suicide sucks!

Healing After a Loved One’s Suicide

Can a person ever get over the suicide of a loved one. My perspective is that healing is possible. I do not see grief as something we need to get over, but rather, something we must grow through.

It is a painful process, but in growing through our grief, we honor those we’ve lost as well as ourselves. We become stronger, more patient and more compassionate. We breathe life in and look for ways to make it a life we genuinely love.

There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of my dad. I long to hear his voice or feel his arms wrapped around me. But rather than dwell on what I’ve lost, I focus on all I’ve gained.

Suicide Sucks Until You Can Breathe Again

Out of a desperate need to understand my dad’s death, I forced myself to face the source of my pain and explore the depths of my heartache. In doing so, I discovered how to breathe again, how to laugh without feeling guilty, and how to feel my grief without it consuming me.

I learned how to live a life I love without feeling the need to apologize. As painful as that process was, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had since losing my dad. Each of those experiences has shaped me into who I am today and I can honestly say that I love the person I’ve become.

Visit Jenny Landon’s website:

Purchase a copy of Jenny Landon’s book: Growing Through Grief: A guide to healthy healing after losing a loved one to suicide: Landon, Jenny: 9780578197876: Gateway

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Jenny Landon

Jenny Landon uses the lessons she’s learned from the most difficult times of her life to create an experience for her audience that goes well beyond simply sharing a story. She connects with her audience through her own transparency and sense of vulnerability to help them develop a better understanding for mental health and how to support it. Jenny’s need for understanding mental health began in 1999 after she lost her father to suicide. Determined to understand his death, she focused the remainder of her undergraduate studies on depression and how to heal after experiencing such a loss. Jenny graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in psychology and went on to be a trained crisis counselor and public educator on suicide prevention. Still, she credits her life experiences as being the best teacher in helping her better understand mental health. In addition to losing her dad, Jenny became suicidal as a result of missing the signs that she was experiencing postpartum depression. In recent years, Jenny’s attention has been on understanding the mental health of her adolescent daughter and helping her to live a life she loves after nearly losing her to suicide. Shining a light on the importance of addressing how we are speaking about mental health is a critical element to Jenny’s message on how we can save more lives. She firmly believes it requires a shift in perspective to develop a true understanding of mental health and that this shift will change the way we speak, think and respond to those experiencing mental health struggles. Through her talk along with the materials she provides, Jenny is determined to not only save lives, but also improve the lives we’re living.

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