The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

July 28, 2013

Healing, friendship in support

Suicide survivors support group leans on each other


Eventually, the women found their way to a support group called LOSS (Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide), a nondenominational program run by Catholic Charities. There, the women shared their feelings of frustration and sadness.

“I was really angry. It wasn’t directed toward my dad. It was directed at everyone else,” Van Sickle said.

“I pushed everyone away,” Hutchison said. “I pushed my husband away, I pushed my family away and I pushed my friends away. It was like I was alone on this island, and it was a very lonely and depressing place to be.”

“My rock bottom was when my grief counselor said she thought I should go on antidepressants,” Olson recalled. “I thought, ‘I have to pull it together.’”

But at their support group and later over dinner, the women found comfort in their connections and conversation. They shared their fears (If someone doesn’t pick up the phone immediately, does your mind jump to suicide?), their hopes (Do you ever feel your father’s spirit is with you?), their struggles to settle their fathers’ estates (How do you transfer the assets of a 401(k)?).

They talked about their fathers’ last days, their final conversations, the notes they left behind. They wondered: Could he have been saved?

Life carried the women forward. Two of them changed jobs. Van Sickle sold her father’s home. As their grief began to recede, they talked about the future and their hope to have children someday.

Shortly before the first anniversary of her father’s death, Hutchison discovered she was pregnant. She and her friends wept with joy. But there was also a renewed sense of loss because, they knew, the baby girl would never know her maternal grandfather.

“How could he have not wanted to stay on this Earth to see this child?” Hutchison wondered.

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