Page 8 - 2016 Spring-Summer Issue
P. 8

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Stigmatized Loss

by Sara Tagget

My journey surviving a stigmatized loss started         calling or stopping by to see how we were, posting
seven and a half years ago when my eldest child         thoughts and stories about Katrina on Facebook
died by suicide. Katrina was 21 years old and about     and listening to us. After a while, the support
to graduate from college. It has been an emotional      waned as everybody’s lives but ours, moved for-
roller coaster of grief trying to understand Katrina’s  ward. Although we understood that people didn’t
decision and learning to live without her.              know what to say, the silence of supportive voices
The definition of stigma is: “a mark of disgrace        and the absence of caring actions only served to
associated with a particular circumstance, qual-        further our stigma.
ity or person.” A stigmatized loss for those of us in   When someone dies in a stigmatized manner, peo-
grief often brings with it experiences and feelings of  ple tend to forget the life that was lived and instead
shame, blame, hopelessness, distress, and reluctance    focus on the manner of death. Those close to us stay
to seek and/or accept help.                             silent because talking about subjects like suicide,
Initially, in the aftermath of Katrina’s death, fam-    murder or a drug overdose is a taboo topic. I didn’t
ily and friends were supportive bringing us meals,      necessarily have any expectations of my friends and
8 |We Need Not Walk Alone
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