Beyond Surviving


Following the suicide of her son, Iris Bolton wrote a compilation of suggestions for survivors.[1] 


  1. Know you can survive, you may not think so, but you can
  2. Struggle with WHY it happened until you no longer need to know why, or until you are satisfied with partial answers.
  3. Know you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but all your feelings are normal
  4. Be aware you may feel appropriate anger at the person, at the world, at God, at yourself. It’s OK to express it.
  5. You may feel guilty for what you think you did or did not do. Guilt can turn into regret through forgiveness.
  6. Having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean you will act on those thoughts.
  7. Remember to take one moment or one day at a time
  8. Find a good listener with whom to share. Call someone if you need to talk.
  9. Don’t be afraid to cry. Tears are healing
  10. Give yourself time to heal
  11. Remember, the choice was not yours. No one is the sole influence in another’s life.
  12. Expect setbacks. If emotions return like a tidal wave you may only be expressing a remnant of grief, an unfinished peace
  13. Give yourself permission to get professional help
  14. Be aware of the pain of your family and friends.
  15. Set your own limits and learn to say no.
  16. Steer clear of people who want to tell you how or what to feel.
  17. Know that there are support groups that can be helpful, such as Compassionate Friends or Survivors of Suicide Groups. If not, ask a professional to help start one.
  18. The willingness to laugh at others and at yourself is healing.
  19. Wear out your questions, anger, guilt or other feelings until you can let them go. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting
  20. Know that you will never be the same again, but you can survive and even go beyond just surviving...


[1] Bolton I, (1983) My Son…My Son…A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss, or Suicide. Roswell, GA: Bolton Press Atlanta.


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