My Survivors Manifesto
Revised by Farren Smith with credit to Laura McCord
I will not get over this regardless of how much time has passed. There is a wound in my heart that will never heal.
I will speak my loved ones name whenever I wish. They existed- a beautiful person and I will not allow them to be forgotten.
I will cry for my loved one whenever I feel the need- be it in the grocery store, the middle of a restaurant or at home in bed and I will not feel embarrassed.
I believe I lost my loved on to an illness not unlike cancer, diabetes or heart disease. That illness might not have been visible, but it was no less real- or deadly.
I will not allow any stigma to fall on me because of my loved ones choices. Their decision was made from an unimaginable pain and a desperate attempt to end their suffering. No one- not even my loved one is to blame.
I will allow myself to feel no matter what emotion I experience whenever I feel it. Be it guilt, anger, resentment, rage or laughter at a fond memory. I will accept these feelings as a natural part of grieving and express them however I need.
I am entitled to the same respect and kindness, sympathy and dignity shown for the survivors of any other kind of death. No matter the cause I lost someone I loved dearly. My grief is justified and no less important than anyone else’s.
I will allow no one to slander or smear, belittle or demean the name or memory of my loved one. Their death is in on way a reflection of the person they were and I refuse to let one action define them.
Finally, I accept that I will never be the same person I was before this loss and I will not pretend otherwise for anyone’s comfort. In fact, I will demand that others in my life accept these truths and accept me.
I have responsibility TO those I love… to be loving, patient, considerate and kind, to be loyal, respectful and honest, to be appreciative, encouraging and comforting, to share myself and care for myself; …..to be the best possible “ME”……. BUT I am not responsible FOR them… not for their achievements, successes or triumphs, not for their joy, gratification or fulfillment, not for their defeats, failures or disappointments, not for their thoughts, choices or mistakes, …..And, most of all, not for their suicide……. For HAD I been responsible, this death would not have occurred. *** To assume responsibility for this death, or to place responsibility upon another, robs the one who died of their personhood and invalidates the enormity of their pain and their desperate need for relief. *** THE PROCESS DEFINED: ANGER is my protest against my loss and its cause. Anger is an effort to control that which cannot be controlled or changed. ANGER is energy that cannot be denied, destroyed or forgotten; but energy that must be expressed lest it become a pool of hatred, resentment and bitterness within myself, depriving me of well-being, dignity, peace of mind, wholesome relationships and my hope for future happiness…and so,it must be converted into UNDERSTANDING this death resulted from another’s distorted “grief”; from viewing their life situation and their ability to exist within it, with doubt, fear and hopelessness and not as it, in fact, existed. ACCEPTANCE this death and its cause cannot be changed; this loss is part of my life; this part is not the whole of my life. RECONCILIATION my life is forever changed by this death, but it is not destroyed I CAN and WILL live through and beyond this loss. I WILL NOT always hurt as badly as I do today I WILL have happiness and peace of mind in my life again through FORGIVENESS is allowing myself and others the humanness to have made mistakes, even of this magnitude. I don’t have to like it! is relinquishing anger, guilt and the need to fault and blame. does not mean finding reasons, causes or justification for my loved one's death. does not mean forgetting. I will never forget! does not mean being completely free of emotional pain, but allowing anguish and despair to transition into sorrow and regret achieving RESURRECTION living again… free of emotional bondage to the fact of suicide; free of emotional bondage to the one who died. and taking back into myself, as sustaining strength, treasured memory of the life shared with my loved one.