In the 24 hours after I learned my dad and stepmother were found dead in the home they shared, I couldn’t do much else but cry on the floor. But I had to. Because death in general entails many responsibilities if you are notified by authorities as “the next of kin.” Deadlines and details you never wanted to meet or know. This is magnified in this type of complex suicide loss, where it seems there aren’t any right choices to make.
On this most recent Father’s Day, I published an essay with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) about some of my early experiences as a survivor of murder-suicide loss and how I started down a path to find truth and heal..
It was meaningful for me to have TAPS publish my first essay and suicide survivor story. As you’ll read, they were the only organization I could find to support me under terribly complicated circumstances. They worked with me to respectfully share my story and start a broader conversation.
TAPS’s main focus is on supporting military Families of the Fallen, but I hope all survivors of murder-suicide loss will find some comfort in reading this. Above all, please know you are not alone.
While each experience is unique, every survivor deserves to respectfully tell their story and have his/her voice heard, especially if it helps with healing of how to survive a suicide.
My call to action in this essay is directed at those who encounter murder-suicide loss in their day jobs: media, nonprofits, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and academia. Together, we must do better in dealing with the social stigma of suicide and suicide survivors in the United States. We must ensure we don’t isolate survivors of murder-suicide. We must make available support for grieving families. And we must help them know they have done nothing wrong.
If you are interested in additional resources or want to connect as a survivor of murder-suicide loss, please reach out to me.