I know this topic might seem a bit more personal than usual for this site. A few months ago my older brother committed suicide, it was tough as you might expect. At the time I remember not turning to the supernatural and this gave me a calming feeling, if that makes sense. This was my trial by fire as an atheist. I believe I passed it with flying colours.

So I guess my question is how do you deal with tragedy? What is your thought process? Does the idea of praying enter your mind? How do you cope emotionally?

I would very much appreciate similar stories and suggestions.

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You know, I have never felt inclined to utter a prayer since I was very young. Not when my father died or any of my grandparents. Not when my mother was very ill. Not even when I was in the emergency room wondering if I was done. What I noticed was that in each instance there was nothing for it but to keep moving, so to speak. Intellectual movement, emotional movement, simple physical movement. However you like to take it, the key in my experience is to allow the pain or fear to exist, and to keep going until it subsides.

I think we modern folks have this illusion that any and all pain and discomfort is simply to be avoided. I think, the older I get, the more obvious it becomes that you have to feel these things, and anything that stands between you and the natural, inevitable pain and fear that life necessarily involves is holding you back. When it's time to mourn you must mourn. When it's time to worry you must worry. You can put it off and you can even dull it with false consolation, but eventually it will have it's time and to hell with your wishes.

but something I would not have expected has changed even this, to a degree. Seeing humans as special makes death and cruelty and deceit epic tragedies - bigger than all the universe, almost. But knowledge of what we really are - animals with certain behaviors and tendencies we use to negotiate a hostile world - somehow takes the edge off. Places the negative aspects of being human in a kind of realistic context, and that honestly does make things easier to deal with. Not painless, just human sized instead of GODS OWN CHOSEN OFFSPRING sized. When you understand biology and evolution, for example, your ruptured colon goes from an outrageous betrayal of the cosmos against your health and happiness to a simple weakness in the digestive process that, sadly but naturally, allows damage to occur.

Still hurts like all hell, though. Believe me. Eat your fiber!
Thanks for the response : )
I'm so very sorry for your loss. There's a book called "No Time to Say Goodbye" by Carla Fine that I highly recommend. It helped me understand my feelings & my grief, and encouraged me to attend a survivor support group, which I found extremely helpful.

I lost my son, age 26, to suicide on May 7th 2012. On that day, I lost my breath, my heart wanted to stop beating, and a part of me died that day. I cannot even begin to explain the range of emotions I have felt since that day and continue to feel. My heart has died many, many times. I hold all of these feelings in because no one around me truly understands. Yes, my X-husband has lost a child also, but it is different. Yes, my son has lost a brother, but it is different. I do not mean less important, just different. If they really knew how I felt I would be put in a padded cell.

I want to be able to tell people how I really feel, but I don’t think they will understand. I would never wish them to experience what I have in order to understand, but I do wish that sometimes some of them would try and imagine how they might feel if they were to lose one of their children to suicide.

Not once in this entire time have I felt the need to find comfort in a god or religion. On the contrary, after learning about his death, I became so enraged at my boyfriend for believing in his god. I scorned him and anyone that would tell me I'll pray for you and your son. We do not need prayers, we need patience, love, understanding and time to grief. I don't think I'll ever heal from this, nor will I ever be able to cope with my loss, but I do know that I need to grief in my own way.

It’s not something that I will ever accept, or get over, or even come to terms with. I don’t imagine that I will feel any differently in twenty or thirty years.

From one survivor to another,

That's just so deep Marisol.

You are so right. I have also lost a child but not to suicide. I couldn't begin to put myself in your shoes. But I hope that somehow you find your happiness again. Even though that enormous part of you has died.

I felt, I'll just have to try to make the best of what's left. Everyone needs to grieve in their own way, yes. I've found that sleep seems to be the only real relief when it comes to grief. It's a very unpredictable emotion.

Thanks for sharing that.

Just realised it's an older thread. but still just wanted to say my bit.

Derek, I know this is an old post, but I wanted to reply anyway.  I lost my son Danny, age 26, to suicide last year.  Not once did I turn to prayer or the "supernatural".  I face my loss straight on, and redirected my grief in preventing suicide.  That is the only thing that saved me from my own despair & depression.  I currently volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as do advocacy work.  I was in Capitol Hill a month ago talking to Senators & Representatives about suicide, prevention and urging them to co-sponsor legislature that helped prevent suicide and addressed mental illness. Here's a pic of my son, Danny, superimposed over almost 2K other faces lost to suicide.



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