First, I am not a parent, I am an aunt of a 17 year old girl who died by suicide. My niece was as close to a daughter as I will ever get. She lived with me for 2 years during high school and in those 2 years, we created a lifetime of memories that I cherish to this day.
Healing to the MAX was a group I sought out only 3 weeks after losing my niece. Living in the south away from my family in the North, I did not know what else to do. Jill was very welcoming and supportive right from the start, even when I explained that I was not a parent, she welcomed me with no hesitation. Jill knew I needed help.
This was the first time in my life that I experienced suicide and it came as a complete and total shock to my life. The loss of “my girl” devastated me and it felt so different from other losses in my life. It affected whether I slept or not, what my day was going to look like, whether I got out of bed, ate or not eat, whether I went to work or not – It affected me in every possible way! It even affected my memory! I had memory loss from those days. I started to remember things during my therapy and I am glad that I did. I did not realize grief could hit anyone so hard that you would lose your memory.
Healing to The Max was just what I needed, and I am so glad I reached out. I knew that eventually I would have to discuss the tragic loss of my loved one and be invited to share my experience of loss. I understood that within this support group I would be asked to reflect upon, share and participate in activities to aid in my healing journey and one of those journeys was to show them who my wonderful and amazing niece was before she died. This was healing. As hard as this was, this really helped.
I understood that what I shared in the group was held in strict confidence and that I too will protect the confidentiality of others in the group. This was a safe space! This was a place of comfort! There was no criticism or judgment here!
Throughout the duration of this group, I was able to reach out to Jill and others like Anjeanette and Lauren, as well as my fellow support group members. I had a few triggers over the last few months. I went to the support group, and as always, they were able to calm me down and say all the right words. We all remain friends to this day and I feel so fortunate for that.
If you have an opportunity to join Healing to The Max, I highly recommend it. I have made lifelong friends of people who know my loss, my pain and the healing it takes to be in a better place and, most importantly, that we do not forget our loved ones.