You are not alone.
Grief from an unexpected death takes over our lives without warning. One moment we are happy, carrying out our daily routines, and unaware that tragedy is about to strike. The next moment we are stunned, reeling from the unthinkable news that someone we love has died. Our lives have been divided into “before” and “after.” Nothing will ever be the same.
Every year in the United States three and a half million people are left behind after a loved one’s sudden death. This is a staggering figure, and it does not take into account those who may have lost someone to a sudden heart attack.
A suicide occurs in the United States every 12.3 minutes, according to the American Association of Suicidology. New research estimates that 18 people are intimately affected by every suicide, meaning there are also 18 new survivors every 12.3 minutes. Each year, there are three quarters of a million new survivors of suicide.
According to the most recent annual figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fourth most common cause of death is accidents, about 136,000/year. The tenth most common cause of death is suicide, almost 43,000/year. The seventeenth most common cause of death is homicide, just under 16,000/year. And the leading cause of death, heart disease, more than 600,000, can result in sudden death as well.
If we assume that every sudden death leaves behind 18 people, then there are three and a half million survivors every year.
People like you. And me.