Survivors' Stories

Julie’s experience

In the late 1980’s, 15-year old Julie came home and found her father hanging in the garage. Her grief was fuelled by a terrible sense of rejection.

“He didn’t want to be around for me,” she told a friend. “He didn’t care how we would all feel, finding him hanging in our home. He can’t have really cared for us.”

At 16, Julie went “wild”. She adopted the punk lifestyle because it seemed to provide a way of venting her tremendous anger and resentment. Expressing her rage was partly cathartic, but the underlying hurt remained.

A friend invited her to a Christian youth camp, where she told a sympathetic counsellor how powerless she had felt to help her father. If only he had confided in his family. He had robbed them of expressing their love and support.

The deepest hurt, apart from the loss, was the belief that: “he can’t have loved us to do that.”

Julie was encouraged to pour it all out and then formally forgive her father. The healing process began from there.

A sister’s grief

James in his early 20’s, graduated to mind-altering drugs and had several close escapes from overdosing. He finally hung himself, leaving a suicide note for his family:

“I’m so ashamed. I’m sorry, I feel such a failure. I just can’t cope anymore. It’s all just too hard….”

His grieving sister told a counsellor that she blamed herself for his death. She could have done more to help: "if only I had done this....."

The counsellor was firm: “Look, blaming yourself for what James did, is false grief.
In the end, it was his choice to start on the drugs. It was his choice to hang himself.
It is not your fault.”

The sister forgave her brother and began the healing process.