Trigger Warning: Suicide
Today’s Story of Perseverance focuses on suicide. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with thoughts of self-harm, are in crisis, or need resources please call 988. You are loved, you are important, and you are needed.
Meet Tylynn Bradford! Mom to Violet 7; and Fox 5. Today our blog post is all about Tylynn and her personal experience with losing a parent to suicide.
Briefly describe your experience with suicide.
Prior to my mom dying, by suicide, I had very little exposure or expirence with suicide. After that night my whole perspective on it changed. It's so taboo to talk about which makes it hard for people to grieve and process, and it also makes it so hard to reach out for help. It was so hard, and I still go through ups and downs with my grief, even 5 years later. In the thick of the grief I still feel angry which is really hard to admit, but it's true. In the little moments is when it's the hardest. When I forget, for just a second, and think about how I want to call her and tell her that little thing that happened and then all the feelings come rushing back about how she isn't there to call.
My kids were 2 years old and 3 months old when my mom died. That was one of the hardest parts. I was right in the middle of my postpartum with my son. Having to be a mom and process my mom dying was so hard. I couldn't handle the thought of my kids not remembering my mom. She was such an amazing Grandma but my son barely even got to experience it.
Who or what helped keep you grounded when you initially found out about your mom? What about currently?
Immediately after it happened my siblings and I got together in the middle of the night to be together. It was hard and I was angry and confused, but being with them was exactly what I needed. I feel super fortunate that I have so many people in my life who have let me process this how I needed to but most of all my husband. From the very beginning he was my rock. Even though he was grieving too, he let me lean on him. And still does to this day.
How did you balance the needs of your family and yourself while still allowing room for coping and grieving?
I let people help! It's so funny how hard accepting help is, especially as a mom in my opinion. But I was so grateful that people were willing to bring us dinner and groceries. People were more than happy to watch my kids so I had some space to process. It made all the difference in the world.
What advice would you give to parents (or anyone) in a similar situation (or really anyone who is dealing with uncertain challenges)?
Don't push the feelings down. Find your people who give you a safe space to process it and talk about it. There isn't a right or wrong way to grieve but not letting the good AND bad days happen just doesn't work. You have to push through and work through the feelings. Let people help, seriously just let them. No one expects you to deal with this on your own, so give in to help people offer.
What has this experience taught you about resilience?
Resilience isn't linear. Grieving isn't linear. It has ups and downs. Some days are way harder than others and some days you feel guilty about life moving on but living your life IS resiliency with grief.
What is something you wish others understood about suicide?
It's not a bad word. If we can't even say suicide how do we expect any change? Talk about it, even if you haven't been affected directly by it. Talk about it with your kids so they don't grow up thinking it's a bad word. It's hard and maybe not something that comes naturally to talk about, but the more you do, the easier it gets.
Update on you and your family. How has this shaped your life? your kids? the rest of your family?
We celebrate her birthday and her anniversary every year with all of my siblings. We talk about her with my kids and make sure they know how amazing of a grandma she was. After she died I started volunteering at The Sharing Place. Which is an amazing place for parents and kids to have a place to work through their grief. It was so amazing to give back a little. I then became a EMT and started working for a company that my experience with suicide was very helpful. I think in general I became more empathetic. I wanted to make sure people knew I was a safe space for them. All in all I think she would be so proud of me, my kids, and the rest of my family, and that's the feeling I hold on to on the hard days.
We want to thank Tylynn for sharing with us. Life can give us very uncertain challenges that can be extremely difficult to face. Our hope in our Stories of Perseverance, is that we can find help and strength while learning from others to use in our own lives. Life is a journey, and we all need help through this journey.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Please seek help immediately. Mental health is a critical part of overall health. If you’re feeling distressed, there is hope. Dial or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.