'Grief is a beast that moves through you': Woman starts suicide support group

When Trudy Gallagher's father died earlier this year, there was a scarcity of sympathy cards, bouquets of flowers and the homemade meals dropped off by family friends.

A Fredericton woman wants to help others who have lost loved ones to suicide

Trudy Gallagher is holding a meeting in Fredericton on Wednesday night to help people who have lost loved ones from suicide. (Facebook)

When Trudy Gallagher's father died earlier this year, there was a scarcity of sympathy cards, bouquets of flowers and  the homemade meals dropped off by family friends.

Instead, the Fredericton woman felt she was left to battle the grief of her father's suicide on her own.  

"Grief is a beast that moves through you with a timetable of its own," Gallagher said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

"The grief was so intense I needed to find out if I was normal."

So Gallagher, a staff member at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, went looking for support in dealing with her father's death.

She wanted a place where she could share what she was feeling with others.

Bud Gallagher died earlier this year. (Trudy Gallagher)

She called and visited organizations across the capital city, but there was no one to turn to or confide in about her father's suicide.

"I had enough self-preservation to realize I couldn't possibly go through this alone," Gallagher said. "It just hurts too much, it's a pain that's indescribable. It's beyond a normal death."

So Gallagher decided to start her own support group, where people can come share their experiences and the pain left behind when people take their own lives.

"Nobody has ever prepared a life lesson on how to deal with this," she said.

A hushed topic

The first meeting is Wednesday between 7 and 9 p.m. at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design in Fredericton. A psychiatrist will also be there to help those struggling with grief.

Gallagher said many people have already reached out over social media to express interest in attending the group.

"If my father had died of cancer, you could've said, 'Well he had this disease and this disease had him,' and it doesn't feel quite so personal,'" she said.

Was I a friend? Was I a daughter? … Was I a good person? We all seem to automatically think that we had something to do with that.- Trudy Gallagher

"You're mad at cancer but there seems a logic to it all."

Gallagher said there's often a stigma or religious taboos attached to suicide. She said people don't know how to react.

"I have personally experienced people who look at me, turn red and duck in a hallway or duck in a room and are afraid to face me," she said.

Often, this causes more guilt and isolation, which leaves a person feeling responsible for the death of their loved one. It can also leave people feeling depressed, which can also result in post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Was I a friend? Was I a daughter?" …. Was I a good person? We all seem to automatically think that we had something to do with that."

Trudy Gallagher lost her father to suicide earlier this year and she found there was little support for families here in Fredericton. Now she has launched a support group with the first meeting set for tonight. 12:34

She said it's important people still acknowledge those who have suffered the loss of someone from suicide.

"Even if you have a really great support system … the closest they can relate is they had a parent or a child die in unfortunate circumstances," she said.

"But it doesn't carry all that extra confusion and conflict around it."