Dealing with the holidays

As the holiday season approaches I find myself thinking back to that first year after the death of my dear friend Brian McDonald who, by marrying my sister, became the brother I had always wanted.  Brian died by suicide in July of 2007 and as Summer cooled and became Autumn I clearly recall how my anxiety mounted with the approach of Thanksgiving.  I found it nearly impossible to imagine the traditions of family gatherings without him, wondered how and if his absence would be marked and decided that I needed to do something that felt right for me, but what?

I was reading everything I could find in books and on the internet at the time about suicide and I took some advice that really helped: We all mark the holidays differently according to our culture and traditions.  After the suicide of a loved one give yourself permission to do things that make you feel better and don't feel pressured to do things that won't.  Grieving is hard work.  It is physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting.  As much as possible, don't add to your burden by expecting too much of yourself.

I decided to add a lit candle to the room which would symbolize that Brian lived on in our hearts.  His candle sat on the sideboard at Thanksgiving and added its warm glow to our breakfast table as we shared our traditional french toast on Christmas morning.  It was one small way of bringing a little comfort into our lives.

Books that have helped me process my grief after the suicide of my father

After my father died from suicide, I was lost, and left feeling like I was the only person in my personal life that had suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide. I definitely didn't know anyone else who had lost their father from suicide. 

My father died September 11, 2000, and I spent the first couple of years after his death looking in bookstores, and searching on for books about suicide. I really knew nothing about the topic. I had so many questions. Who dies from suicide? Do more men than women die? How many men in my father's age group die in the same way he did? How common is suicide? What method is the most common?

I found myself wanting to find others that had lost a loved one to suicide. How did they recover? How did they honor their loved ones? Did they have any good advice that could help me feel a little less alone and lost? Were there books written by authors that had survived losing a loved one to suicide? 

Here are a couple of books that I found helpful:

What books did  you find helpful? I'd love to post them on the Resources page.