Native American spirituality: Different perspective on suicide

Native American Spirituality: Different perspective on suicide

Hello all!

If you follow my site’s Facebook page, you know that I am currently doing course 4 in my certificate on Aboriginal psychotherapy and complex trauma. I absolutely love this program and recommend it to anyone who will listen! It is a very nontraditional program in which traditional ways of healing such as using the land and Mother Earth to heal, using our connection to nature, using the ancestors to guide and help us. It is very much an experiential program in which we do try on ourselves what we would do with clients. As much as I love it, I am typically exhausted by the time a course is over. But it is a wonderful experience! So I thought I would share and write about a topic we discussed today: suicide. Yes not the most uplifting topic, I agree. I did not mean to be a bummer. BUT, actually the perspective I want to share is a different one in which suicide is seen, in a way, as having had an adaptive function over time. Stay with me and you will find out what I mean. Let’s look at Native American spirituality and suicide.

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A Native American perspective on suicide

In today’s day and age, suicide has a negative connotation. We tend to skirt the topic and pretend suicide does not exist. Or we tend to reassure loved ones of those who have committed suicide by saying things such as “she does not feel pain anymore” or “she is in heaven now”. Well, let’s think about this for a sec. So the one who committed suicide does not feel pain anymore? Well I want that too then. I mean, although it is meant to be reassuring, it almost makes suicide attractive here. “Who wants to stay alive and feel pain?” “Who wants to die and not feel pain anymore?” That is quite a restrictive view of suicide. I get that those words are meant to reassure those left behind but they portray suicide in a light that might not be accurate. This is not a tampon commercial, we are not all running in a field to go to a better place.

What else are we supposed to say you ask? Well, let’s think about it for a second. Within the Native cultures (yes there is more than one), the connection to Mother Earth, to the land is strong. We connect with the ground beneath our feet, with the wind in the Father Sky, with the warmth of Grand-father Sun, with the water of Grand-mother Ocean. We feel all of this on our earthly body. Because our life as we know it is our “earth time” in which we are in our physical form. We return to our spiritual form in the spirit world at death. So how about saying “she will never feel the wind on her face again” or “she won’t be able to feel the sun on her skin” instead? To remind us that we also need to be thankful for our bodies, for our physical side. We need to embrace our life on Earth before we go to the Spirit world. Because once we have crossed, our earth time is over and that comes with aftereffects that are rarely mentioned.

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But wait suicide has always been present

Yes it has. It was present before the colonization of Turtle Island. Our ancestors committed suicide. They died for their land or their community. For example, older people would go off to die rather than slow down a nomadic tribe. Not as a sacrifice but rather as a way to serve the land or their community. If their earthly body was failing them, if they were in pain, if they believed that their family or community would do better that way. In a sense, it had an adaptive function. Kids would kill themselves if they saw their family struggling to eat so that the family could survive. This is still seen at times today, except that it is called an accident. I know some of you might be scratching their head, but suicide has always been and remains an option. It has always been there in the life of Indigenous people and will remain there. Suicide then has to be perceived as being normal. We all have our own different relationship with suicide. We sit beside it, we look at it, we explore it.

For some I can understand that what I just said might be scary. Because suicide is often considered to be a taboo. But suicide is present so we might as well talk about it. In numerous nations, on numerous reserves, suicide rates are high, higher than in the general population. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are indeed the leading cause of death for First Nations youth and adults up to 44 years of age. It does not mean that every community has a high suicide rate. It means, however, that on average, the suicide rate is higher in Aboriginal youth than non-Aboriginal youth in Canada (5 to 1, up to 11 to 1 for Inuit youth). You will also see cluster suicides, of teens at times, where a teenager commits suicide and then a few follow suit. Or an echo suicide, i.e. suicides that take place after an extended period of time after the first one (e.g. on the anniversary of the death).

Hopi prayer

Hopi prayer for those who have lost a loved one

So yes we need to talk about it

Talking openly about suicide is what is done in Aboriginal focusing oriented therapy (AFOT, the program I am taking). We go toward suicide, we do not run away from it. We have an open discussion about it, we do not shame those who are thinking about dying or have tried to kill themselves. We respect and recognize that part of them might feel like dying. And then we can explore which part that is. And very importantly, if there is a vicarious or intergenerational component to that feeling. What do I mean by that? Well we explore whether that feeling is theirs alone or if part of it might belong to past generations. Was it the client’s mom feeling the same or the grand-mother maybe? Are clients carrying their ancestors’ experiences within themselves? Yes they are. Their body carries it. Their body carries the memory of what happened to their ancestors. And we need to be mindful of that reality.

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So yes talking about suicide might be scary. When I first heard that suicide was and always is an option, my stomach churned. I was not comfortable with that. But then you have to look at it this way: suicide might be an option but it might not be the one I am taking right now. I am comfortable talking about suicide. I have done it many time in my work in jails. Detailed and intimate discussions about the client’s thoughts, feelings, actions. And what I found is that most individuals will find it reassuring to have those conversations. That someone can hold all of that. Because as therapists that is what we do, we hold. We serve as the container for the client to safely empty what makes them feel uncomfortable. We sit with it.

And that is not always easy. Cue Mother Earth. Yes we need to use the land to hold the client’s feelings. The land can do that. Imagine you are standing up and the space in front of you can hold what makes you uncomfortable, what hurts you, what scares you. Well in AFOT, that is what is done. The space, the land serves as a space to put the client’s feelings so they can be observed and discussed from a safer distance. The land will hold them so that it can feel safer to discuss them. The land is strong, solid (rocks do not move, we can count on them) while also offering fluidity (the fluidity of water, water washes the rocks).

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So here we have it: suicide. A topic that is uncomfortable for many. But it is a reality and not talking about it won’t make it less a reality. So we might as well talk about it. Sit with it, have a conversation with it, a relationship to it. Normalize the whole thing so that people can speak more openly without feeling shame. While remembering that we are not alone as Mother Earth is there to help. What are your thoughts about suicide? Anyone offended by what I said? Anyone agrees? Comment below and I will answer 🙂

All my Relations

 

40 thoughts on “Native American spirituality: Different perspective on suicide

  1. Jessy

    hey again!!!

    Agin you have held me to your content !!! love the way you right and also love your mindset,,,,I am not aboriginal but LOVE mother nature and everything she has given us,

    We take advantage of her and she does watch us do it!!!!! Love ur perspective on suicide and it is soo True!!!! A lot of people think suicide is the answer !!! Because of the same reason people thing things…..they heard it somewhere before or they have been told this before..

    Great again love it love it love it!!!!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Jessy
      thanks for your kind words. Mother Earth is indeed there to help and protect us. There is a saying that we do not inherit her from our ancestors but instead we borrow her from our children. So we need to take care of her. I think that sometimes suicide is portrayed in a rosy light but it does not reflect reality. Suicide will always be there and will always remain an option. But we need to have a conversation with it, sit with it and talk about it

      Reply
  2. Chris

    Hey Emily,
    what a wonderful article. I’m so glad that people like you are open to discussing suicide. I went through my own ‘dark night of the soul’ for several years.
    It began when I became psychotic and heard voices for six months. But that was the easy bit. I eventually ended up in a psych ward. I no longer had work, I became a chain smoker and put on 100 pounds of weight.
    Things got even worse when I had a bad reaction to the medication I was on. The reason I’m mentioning this is because one of these life events by themselves could tip someone over the edge. I had to deal with all of them in a space of a few months.
    Many times I tried to end it but thankfully I was unsuccessful. The tough times don’t last forever and I’m doing great now. In fact although I still have plenty of challenges but I’m relatively happy. And all those dark nights have led me to this place of contentment.
    I’m sad for all those people that could not hold on for dawn to break. Who killed themselves before they could have a better perspective on life.
    Problems are never the end but suicide is. Thank you for this wonderful article on a difficult topic.
    Chris

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thank you Chris for your honesty, it is much appreciated. Having a psychotic disorder affects every aspect of one’s life. You went through a number of stressors that would make most give up. Yet you did not. I like when you say “for the dawn to break”. I think that is gives a good picture to hang on to. Suicide is still with us and will always be. But at least if we are actually talking about it, then it might alleviate some of the shame and hurt

      Reply
  3. K

    Now that you put it that way – that’s right, suicide is always an option. As I write this I feel a bit squeamish, because it’s unsettling. The native american spirituality has a familiar perspective on suicide in the fact that it actually puts it on the table – and explains that the relationship we have with our earth is important. Thanks Emily, for letting people know this is something that can be discussed. The more people know about suicide, the more educated they will be about the pros and cons. (I don’t say that lightly).

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Kylie!
      I know the feeling, I felt squeamish too at times. It is not an easy topic to discuss because of all the stigma. And it is uncomfortable for most to think that someone might want to die. But putting things on the table, having an open discussion about it lessen that stigma. And I have found it to be reassuring for most people. And to know that Mother Earth is there to help lessen the feelings of loneliness.

      Reply
  4. CarolynCal1

    I wish I could say I’m offended because I would love to read more about your thoughts. I’m not aboriginal but understood with surprising clarity each metaphor you used to describe how nature can heal us. Each one of us: those who suffer from suicide thoughts as well as those who mourn the ones that have chosen to embrace it. When you say that people are carrying the memory of what happened to their ancestors it makes a lot of sense to me. It would explain why our modern medicine can’t help everyone dealing with mental illnesses get through. Our science is only based on what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Are we missing on something? Thanks so much for posting, I always enjoy reading you.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thank you Caroloyn!
      I am glad you enjoyed the metaphors. And I agree we are so focused on what we can see or touch. Maybe we need to look at what we feel. A mix of traditional and modern ways I found works well. Otherwise, yes we are missing something, absolutely!

      Reply
  5. Eric

    Dear Emily,
    A most excellent post. Most people are in denial. To be willing to talk about suicide takes courage.
    A couple of item: Two movies I saw about Native or Aboriginals come to mind. One, Little Big Man, had Grandfather to Dustin Hoffman who played Little Big Man, decide that it was time to die. He did a ceremonial dance, lay down to die, closed his eyes, and then it started to rain. He opened his eyes, laughed, and said, ‘Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t”. It was not his day to die.

    Another movie White Dawn(?) about people living in the Far North around Hudsons Bay. They take in 4 sailors whose ship was lost at sea. They destroy the community, and the elder takes his dog sleigh out into the arctic night, after his daughter dies of alcohol that the Modern Westerners plied her with.

    What I think is worth broaching in connection with your topic, is that modern society is ‘Koyanlsquatsi’ Hopi for Out of Balance. The truth is that our society is collectively committing suicide with its wars overconsumption and use of extremely toxic nuclear energy and chemicals in agriculture. Because people push Death away, not willing to face the inevitable as individuals, collectively we are in a very precarious position, and few but the Aboriginals and other ‘sensitive’ people seem to notice.

    So thanks for bringing this issue to our attention.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Eric
      thanks for your insightful comment! I will be checking those movies out 🙂 A lot of the modern society is living off balance, absolutely. We are destroying the land, Mother Earth, our mother. Thus we are destroying ourselves. and that is a sad truth

      Reply
  6. Heather

    Hi Emily,

    Your post on Native American Spirituality: Different perspective on suicide is excellent.

    While a controversial topic to be sure, it’s actually a relief to read something so open and grounding about suicide.

    I was moved by your take on someone who commits suicide as never being able to feel the wind on their face or the sun on their skin again. This brings great and immediate clarity to feeling gratitude for our earth walk…perhaps something that is missing or unable to be expressed for whatever reasons by someone who is deeply depressed and suicidal.

    Opening up this topic and talking about it is a great service you have done Emily. Not so sure that the topic could ever be ‘normalzed’ as I feel there is nothing normal about suicide, rather a tragic misunderstanding of the significance of every human life, but you have shed another perspective as seen through the Native American Spirituality and I’m most grateful to you for that.

    Warmly,
    Heather

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thank you Heather
      it warms my heart to see your words. You are right that in this society, suicide is not normal. However, it was for our ancestors. It was a normal way to leave the Earth when they felt it was their time. it is heartbreaking at times to look at it this way, as it is not at all what we are used to, but it remains the truth. That being said, we need to enjoy our earth time and be grateful for it.

      Reply
  7. Steve

    Suicide is indeed a taboo subject in a western culture – but not so in others… For instance, The Japanese regard suicide as a normal part of life… It is not unusual for humans to take their own lives and like you say – it has been an option forever. I mean, the one certitude of life is that we are going to die and if someone decides they want to go now rather than later – then why not?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      true you make a good point. Saying it is an option does not mean that it is the only option. Only one of them. But it is one and that is what is so hard to accept for most. But it also helps to look at it from an adaptive and evolution perspective.

      Reply
  8. Nnamdi

    Hello Emily,
    Once again a very captivating and engaging post you have here. Your deep knowledge about the Native American culture has shown how passionate you are about all of these. Now, I don’t understand, does it mean that the Aboriginal youths view committing suicide as a good thing? Since you mentioned ‘cluster’ suicide, which means one suicide could lead to several others, which is commonly found with the Aboriginal.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Nnamdi
      good question. They don’t view it as a good thing but I find that suicide is often “romanticized” and youth do not have all the cognitive skills to fully understand what committing suicide means. And yes cluster suicides means that one suicide leads to a series of others. Which is frequent on reserves unfortunately

      Reply
      1. Nnamdi

        Good to know that Aboriginal youths don’t view suicide as a good thing. But to me, ‘cognitive skill’ to understand suicide is way out of normal to me. A person that does not have the cognitive skill to understand suicide is not normal. Or should we say, it is as a result of orientation that makes them try to romanticize suicide? Because I can’t still rap my head around the idea that they don’t have the cognitive skills to understand suicide.

        Reply
        1. Emily Post author

          hi Nnamdi
          Maybe I was not super clear. By cognitive skills I mean that a teenager’s brain is not fully developed so they cannot fully comprehend what suicide means and the implications of it. That is what I meant.

          Reply
  9. Demi

    Hi Emily..such an excellent article you have hear. Yes, we do not need to run away from suicide but need to have a conversation with it. My belief is higher percentage of people think about it but many don’t talk about it. Opening up is the best way to clear thoughts and solve inner voices..I’m very much tempted to do the certification on Aboriginal psychotherapy and complex trauma after reading your post. Is it available world wide?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Demi
      absolutely, talking about it is the way to go. It takes the stigma away. And talking about it in real terms. The certification is available in certain cities in North American. If you type in Aboriginal focusing oriented therapy, you will see some of them. I am not sure where you are located

      Reply
  10. Marc

    Hey Emily

    What a great post! I know I shouldn’t be necessarily laughing, but your tampon commercial remark had me in stitches.

    You have made some great points about suicide and I must say that I agree with you.

    It is always interesting for me to see how different cultures view things like suicide completely differently.

    Thanks for the awesome info.

    Cheers,
    Marc

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      It’s okay Marc it was meant to be funny 🙂 Not trying to make light of a situation, more of pointing out something that do not make sense. And yes there are different cultural perspectives on suicide for sure. and sometimes it is good to hear them out 🙂

      Reply
  11. CannaGary

    Emily,

    Thank you 1st off for the great website, and thanks for tackling such a tuff subject.
    I have to think most everyone has thought of taking their own life at some point, and I think here in the US as more states adopt proper compassionate euthanasia laws at least for the very ill there will at least be that suicide option.

    I feel your passion as you write and I wish you well with your further studies.
    I wonder, do you happen to see any correlations Globally with suicide and abuse of alcohol?

    Thanks again
    Gary

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Gary
      it is true that euthanasia “opens up doors” in a sense. As for alcohol and suicide, I would have to speak about the Native population here. And the prevalence of alcoholism is actually higher within that population. Combined with less health care services,higher violence rates and trauma, then yes the suicide rate is also higher. However, I would not say that there is a direct correlation, more of a combination of factors.

      Reply
      1. Gary

        Emily,

        Thanks for the response, I do understand how confusing an issue this can be, I asked about the alcohol situation because I have found while doing research online that wherever I read of high alcohol usage, I read about a high suicide rate Globally.

        Alcohol is a depressant, so someone that is already upset about their plight in life or daily circumstances that consumes the booze to escape, almost always ends up doing more damage.

        As a recovering 40+ year alcoholic, I m willing to bet if access to alcohol could somehow be curtailed there may be some significant benefits.
        But I am also a firm believer in Freedom and know full well prohibition is wrong and does not work.
        So we are left with education and positive role models to resolve issues that need more I think.
        Coming from a technical background I am always in fix it mode, so to me removing alcohol from this negative situation if possible would be where I would start.

        I am not a hater of alcohol, my wife still drinks and I use it to cook with quite often, it is all about control and I was powerless when consuming.

        I now Control It, It NO Longer Controls Me!

        As Tim said below regarding the factors involved, if alcohol were removed perhaps clarity of mind and healing could begin.
        My best,

        Gary

        Reply
        1. Emily Post author

          hi Gary
          thanks for adding to your original comment. First off, congrats on your sobriety. That is a huge accomplishment. I want to say that some historical context needs to be looked at if we are going to be talking about alcohol. Alcohol was introduced to the Native people by Europeans. It was not in their life before. Oftentimes, it was used to render the native people unable to negotiate during trades. A lot of land was taken from them as a result. As their bodies were not accustomed to alcohol. Alcohol has since been a problem in many communities. I understand your point of taking it away though and many communities are actually dry communities. But the problem of depression and suicide remains as the history of trauma is still there.

          Reply
  12. tim

    Hi
    I totally agree with your perspective on suicide. However nowadays there really shouldn’t be this need for teens to be taking their lives.

    I think that native American teens and the high suicide rate is probably due to poverty, unemployment, alcohol abuse, and feelings of utter despair.

    More should be done to tackle this problem and I think that treating Native Americans with the respect they deserve would be a great start and sites like yours that raise awareness of the amazing cultures should be read by more people.

    Think I waffled on a bit sorry

    Great article and a lovely site

    Tim

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Tim for your comment. You touched on some good points there in terms of multiple traumas within Native communities as well as a poorer health in general. The fact that there is such a high suicide rate amongst Native teens is a very sad statistics indeed, one that should not be

      Reply
  13. Jason

    Hi Emily,

    As always a brilliant article but I have to admit one that I struggles to read. Nothing to do with your writing, which is beautiful, but the topic itself.
    I agree suicide should be talked about, is present, will always be present and should be on the table however one aspect that struck me was the impact a suicide has on the people left behind.

    I have shared the following with very few people but want to add it to the conversation as perhaps another view or aspect to consider.

    Not long ago I was in a relationship with a person I adored. For the most part it was wonderful and like all relationships there were moments that were not so great. The sadness was my partner had very severe depression triggered by a great deal of trauma stemming from cultural and religious stereotyping and suffering a tragic loss early in life. The depression was at times so bad there was an always present threat to commit suicide.
    This is tough, really tough – trying to love and support someone who you adore, seeing them being eaten up by the depression and trying to find a way to break through and show how much you are there and do care.
    I thought things were progressing well in terms of the treatment but as it turns out the medication wasn’t helping and my partner was doing a beautiful job of covering it up. This led to weeks of threatening to commit suicide.
    My guilt comes because I got to the stage where another “please come home from work now or I will kill myself” made me cold, and I began to believe it was purely attention seeking as it went on for months.
    On the final phone call I explained that I wasn’t leaving work, that I would be home in 3 hours as normal.

    I spent that night with police having to formally identify the body or the most beautiful person Ive ever met. I live with that guilt and there isn’t a day I don’t blame myself and hate myself for not being there at that time.

    In some regards people are correct – my partner feels no pain any more. I still feel the wind but have the pain. Perhaps it is a very selfish way for me to think but I still miss waking up and feeling that familiar breath on my chest, and the soft snores. After months I still can honestly say I grieve each minute and I know nothing can change what s done but that doesn’t stop the soul missing it’s other half.

    sorry for the length of this comment
    J

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Jason
      From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for sharing this with me, with us. I think you know that I am a mental health clinician and I have similar events in my life (without the suicide part). I know how hard it is when someone seems to be putting their life in your own hands. When in reality, that is not fair. As we can never be responsible for someone’s life. And I can appreciate the “getting cold to it” part. But the guilt part! I can fully understand that. I can only imagine what was waiting for you at home that day. A picture that cannot be forgotten. Losing your best friend, your lover, your partner, you cannot describe that.
      it seems like your partner was putting on a face at times. And it can be so hard if not impossible to see through that mask. That mask of pain, which you are now carrying. Suicide leaves a lot of pain behind.
      What I can recommend, is using the land to hold that pain and hurt for you. Mother Earth is there to help you. Use her to contain that pain. Let it flow in a river or place it under a rock. Those are just examples. Once again, thank you Jason. All my Relations

      Reply
  14. Jason

    Hi Emily

    Thank you for your reply. Apologies for the length of time to respond – the wounds open quickly. It is our learning I suppose. I want to personally and publicly thank you for your support and wisdom. This morning I spent 2 hours at the seafront. Just before dawn and with no one around. Buried my feet into the mother’s sand and allowed the breaking waves to slap around me. And basically released. Sobbed and allowed the energy to flow and it helped enormously. Thank you for this guidance it really made a difference.
    In the end I sat and saw the sun rise and felt the wind and actually was happy to just be there, be here and to feel those elements. I know these feelings come and go, and will come and go some more…but for those moments of peace I am thankful and could actually sit and think and send my love. I must have done something right as when I refocused on the present I had 3 of the local beach dogs surrounding me. One at my right, one at my left and one leaning against my back. Needless to say that set me off again but for the dogs they earned a treat and currently laying pride of place at my doorstep feasting on what was my breakfast …I think I may have gained some roommates…

    Thank you Emily
    Jason

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Jason
      thank you so much for this reply. Totally to be expected that the wounds run deeply. it warms my heart that you went to Mother Earth for help. Water is fluid, it can actually break rocks, reshape them. Sometimes a heavy heart can feel like a rock and needs help breaking down. It seems like the ocean provided you with a container to do that. Continue to use the elements, the grass, the wind, the trees as well as the animal world. Your experiences shows well how animals are there to help us. Wow! What an experience that must have been! Thank you again for sharing. All my Relations

      Reply
  15. nancy langley

    I feel my Ancestors pain and sorrow within me all the time, I try to apply the visions of pain. I was gifted with the power to see the spirits, believe it or not, 2 yrs ago I discovered this and I have tried to help ppl understand many things, especially my children but apparently by doing so, they have made it apparent that I hurt them more than help because of my beliefs, because of my accounts with the spirits. What am I to say? A lie? I can’t and many have heard the saying before, the truth shall set you free, right? Not quite! The truth shall get you hated, envied, judged, and everyone’s talk about how crazy you are! I would much rather die than to be here, I’ve always felt that way, even as a child, being casted out by my mother, aso well as having no friends!! Yea yea, I know what they say, I’m your best friend you can count on me! It doesn’t work that way either, I always find myself alone! Or fighting back! No I’m not angel, Great Spirit Creator knows all to well of my mistakes in life, but goodness grief, we live an innocent life as children realizing that those small things against us was just the beginning of realizing how our Ancestors felt, and how cruel much of the ppl in this world are today! Now imagine seeing their experiences first hand, it broke my heart! So I spoke up on the spirits behalf of the pain I seen them endure, my excessive crying because no one person believed me.. I absolutely would rather be the Warrior that I am, in the spirit world, than here in flesh, and I’m grateful for my time, but I’m ready to go… I found this site because I wanted to make sure it was not a single to seek out suicide as it has been my wish for many years since I can remember.. I hope you all understand, I’m a very sain person. I love my life but it’s saddening to keep going like this!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Nancy
      thank you so much for sharing your experience. I truly appreciate it. I do believe in your abilities and gifts. It is not easy to be true to yourself but you have to. Even if at times, I understand that it puts a target on your back. I can understand the ever present feeling of wanting to die. I have known more than one person who felt like that. It can be scary for others to hear hence the reactions you think you might get. But death is just a change in worlds. enjoy the most of your Earth time before that transition.

      Reply
  16. Donna Ballantyne

    My late Son James Mikisew Meyer died by Suicide on October 1st/16. I find alot of peace in reading your article but i have a long ways to go, I realize; I know the Earth is strong and my Ancestors are with us as they love us without conditions. I will continue to talk to the Wakan about the many things that enter my mind as i still feel alot of hurt because I wanted to make peace with my late Son about alot of things: Issues. I am glade i read your article! My son had the Spirit of an Eagle and it reflected in all things he did in his life. They honored that at his celebration of life….I was hoping he would have made more time on our Mother but sadly he left at the age of 23…How do i make peace with him and tell him i love him?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Donna
      I am so sorry for your loss. don’t think there are any words that would describe the pain of losing a loved one. Especially a child. Even if the child is an adult. Give yourself some time, your loss is very recent. I am glad you found some comfort in reading my words. As for making peace with him, talk to him. If things were left unfinished, let him know. If you have safe and sweetgrass, light some and talk to your son. He seems like a wonderful individual who was loved by many. You can also have a ceremony to let go of what was (whatever is bugging you and feels unfinished). Talk to him and then have that ceremony, which I was taught to call a letting go ceremony. But talk to him, he will hear you. All the best to you and stay in touch.

      Reply
  17. Michael

    Thank you so much for this timely article.
    I am so grateful that the internet is able to allow so many voices that were not heard in the past.
    I have a question and was wondering if you could share more about “…aftereffects that are rarely mentioned.”
    Thank you once again for the beautiful and timely article.
    Peace.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Michael I am so glad that you found comfort in my article. When talking about the aftereffects, I mean that once in the spirit world, the individual does not have the ability to feel the world in a physical way. To feel the sands between their toes, to feel the wind on their face. Death is only a change in worlds but it does mean the loss or change of certain abilities.

      Reply
  18. Amanda Long

    Hello Emily.
    I know that this is an old article, but I wanted to tell you that you have helped me tremendously with your words.
    My father (the last parent I had left) passed through to the blue road 9 months ago and the Dr put me on antidepressants, I absolutely hate taking pharmacy meds so I have recently wiened myself off of them. The season is very difficult, as this was (like most families) a very special time of year for us. I attend sweat lodges on a regular basis and have found that giving my trauma to the grandfather rocks helps a lot, but the pain returns. As a counselor myself I have found myself struggling to release what I hold for myself.
    My entire life I have had to be the strength for others, to hold those things as you so beautifully said here. But finding somewhere to hold my things is where I struggle. You very well may have changed my relationship with suicide today, although i do discuss it openly with others who contemplate it, I never felt comfortable discussing my personal relationship with others.
    I appreciate your candid attitude when it comes to such a taboo situation, thank you!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Awwww Amanda, thank you for your comment. I find comfort in knowing you found comfort in the words I shared here. It is very difficult when we are a mental health professional. As we are there for everyone but sometimes it is hard to do it for ourselves and reaching out. I am glad to hear that you are attending ceremonies that can be helpful. I think that the pain never fully goes away. It just lessens maybe or changes. Many years ago, I lost my grandfather to suicide. And I still carry his memory with me, sometimes I miss him. Sometimes I know he is now okay. But it is a process and one that is certainly not easy.

      Reply

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