She said no -- so he killed himself

   People do terrible things in the name of supposed love. Here is a letter seeking help, from a good friend. I have changed details to make identification impossible.

Hi Bob..

   A friend of mine recently broke up with her boyfirend because he was scaring her a little and she knew he needed help. He was calling her constantly to initiate contact and told her he was on meds and getting counseling. She wasn't as receptive as he hoped, and on Sunday after trying to contact her numerous times and even calling her parents, he killed himself.

   She is struggling for obvious reasons...but knows it is not her fault. She feels comfortable being around me and I just want to make sure I give her the best words that I can. She is seeing a counselor.. But what is the best thing her girlfriends can do?

Thank you....

Dear K,

   She is lucky to have you for a friend, but it's a hard load.

   I have had a client whose separated husband killed himself in front of her. This was terribly traumatic of course, and she was having nightmares when she came to me, a year later. But a year after that, when I phoned to see how she was doing, she'd found a new partner who was entirely without the need to control or possess, and she was expecting his child.

   With recent grief, all you can do is to allow the sufferer to tell the story as many or as few times as they want to. Over and over and over if that's what they need, or nothing but tears if that's what they need. For now, the best thing she can do is to accept whatever emotions she has, to acknowledge them and let them exist.

   Tell her that it's like a broken bone. It hurts. It takes time to heal. It has a natural course of progression, which can be interrupted. (With a broken bone, you may have an infection. With grief, you may have guilt or anger.)

   Whatever she feels like now, she can keep in mind that it is not forever. Things will change and improve.

   Later on, she may be consoled by the thought that she had a lucky escape. She did the right thing. She is not responsible for his actions, and bears none of the guilt. Whatever she feels like, these thoughts will help to argue with the emotions when the time is right for that.

Have a good life, my dear,



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