The Necessity of Hope


In the beginning, when the grief is debilitating and the pain intense, it is difficult to find a reason to hope. It seems impossible to imagine that life could get better. Your outlook is shaped by a question, “How can I betray my loved one’s memory by looking forward to a future without him or her?

Although the loss is all consuming life continues. In my case, there was family, and in particular, the grandchildren. In their innocence they invite you into their lives to look at their painting, read a story, or kick the ball. During a season of grief there are contradictory emotions. There is great sadness but there is also joy. The spontaneity and exuberance of little children is a powerful antidote. It is they who help to inspire thoughts of a new tomorrow.

But how do we define HOPE? Hope is more than wishful thinking. It is more than hope-so, it is know-so. There is certainty. There is conviction. And there is realism.

What we want is a reasonable hope, a hope that can be relied upon even in the most difficult of times. Some hoping is extravagant, bordering on the impossible. This sort of hoping is unhelpful. What is needed is a hope that provides a solid foundation for life in all its complexity. It is insufficient to just survive the loss of a loved one to suicide. It is about finding a renewed purpose. It is about growing wiser and stronger through the multiple challenges that grief visits upon you. It is about rediscovering a renewed purpose.

So what of my hope? What is it that allows me to think positively about life?

The words of Ronnie Walker, founder and Executive Director of the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors, are instructive. She speaks of an unwavering belief in ‘the promise that something meaningful will result out of all the pain.”

 The reality is the pain doesn’t vanish. It may not be as intense but it does remain a constant.  And this is how it should be. After all, your loss doesn’t diminish. Your loved one is gone. There is no going back. But there is a way forward, a hope in a future that is no longer dictated by your sorrow.

The suffering you have experienced can, despite its painfulness, be the means of actually achieving your purpose in life. The loss of your loved one to suicide causes you to reset the focus of your life. Through your unwavering efforts to make sense of this tragedy there is the gradual acquisition of knowledge and understanding and the desire to reach out to others who have experienced a similar loss.

Author: Bruce Rickard

Reflections on Suicide and Staying Alive: My son's suicide changed everything. I felt an obligation to understand why anyone would want to end their life. My regular blog posts explore the causes and prevalence of suicide and what is needed to sustain a healthy mind and a hope-filled future.

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