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When It's More Than Sadness; Complicated Grief & Chronic Suicidal Ideations

Updated: Apr 10

Content Warning: Grief, Suicide, Parental Death, Mental Health

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 immediately.


September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Every year people all around the US work together to raise awareness of the most fatal symptom of depression. This year, I am ready to take a bolder step forward in the ongoing mission to destigmatize the taboo subject of suicide.

When I became a yoga for mental health teacher, I committed to demonstrating radical vulnerability as the foundation of a cultivated safe space for learning, healing, and growth.

Join me for an exploration of complicated grief, chronic suicidal ideations, and my mental health journey with both.

What Is Complicated Grief?

What Are Chronic Suicidal Ideations?

What Has Helped Me Heal


What Is Complicated Grief?

Complicated grief can go by many other names: chronic grief, atypical grief, or persistent complicated bereavement disorder. Complicated grief is a "delay or absence of coping in a way that causes undue disability or stress." In other words, conventional grief is temporary and complicated grief is when you become stuck.

A grieving person is more likely to develop complicated grief when they experience:

  • A history of depression before the loss

  • Delayed grief - When a person's normal grief response is delayed whether intentional or unintentional. ie. having to put on a brave face

  • Disenfranchised grief - When a person feels like they are unable to openly acknowledge grief due to real or created pressures.

  • Traumatic grief - When the loss experienced is violent, unexpected, or happened "before their time."

If you have a history of depression or experience delayed, disenfranchised or traumatic grief, it does not necessarily mean you will develop complicated grief.

I grew up in a family that didn't believe in mental health but desperately needed the support of mental health professionals. I had an abusive alcoholic father. I do have some fond memories of growing up but I can now recognize that anxiety came into my life around the age of 5-6, and depression came around age 10-11. I've also learned that children who grow up in a house with an alcoholic parent experience similar PTSD to that of a combat soldier.

When my father died when I was 16 he was 45 years old. He was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer in May and died by the end of August. Experiencing the death of a parent can be traumatic at any age but this life event is especially Traumatic for children. I was old enough to know about therapy. Yet, when I asked for help, I was actively denied access to mental health.

I now know that not having access to mental healthcare at this crucial time has solidified a lasting impact on my nervous system and created chronic mental health conditions that I will manage for the rest of my life.

What Are Chronic Suicidal Ideations?

Suicide is the fatal symptom of depression. Chronic suicidal ideations are like any other chronic disease with people experiencing their symptoms in an ebb and flow. These brave people live with suicidal thoughts almost every day.

I was in so much pain following the death of my father. The stress of the loss caused me to experience anxiety and depression like I never felt before. I even developed a severe case of shingles. Seeing my medical doctor was my only option. It turned out to not be a very good one. My medical doctor prescribed a refillable prescription for powerful anti-anxiety medications, Xanax and Valium.

The first time I tried to end my life I took three Xanax, three Valium and made peace with not waking up in the morning. When I did wake up the next morning, I told no one and went to my college classes like nothing had happened the night before. I honestly don't know how many times I took this cocktail over the next four years. Each time increasing the dosage of my cocktail and each morning waking up.

We would all like to believe the narrative of a person experiencing suicidal ideations, sharing their feelings with someone, receiving the help they need, and being cured of suicidal ideations.

I am not one of those people; I live with chronic suicidal ideations.

I have had suicidal thoughts for so long that they seem like a regular part of my life. I still live with numerous chronic contributing factors like mental illness and fibromyalgia pain. Additionally, the fact that I've attempted to end my life, and multiple times at that, makes my suicidal ideations more likely to return.

I can tell that I have made progress with my recovery because my chronic suicidal ideations don't always come in the form of "Here is the plan to end my life." Over time they have morphed into less severe forms of suicidal ideations such as feeling like I want to die or feeling trapped in a negative mental health space.

Healing My Way Forward

Healing complicated grief and learning to live with and navigate chronic suicidal ideations requires a multidimensional approach. I know that all of the components of my recovery are vital, but I would not be successful at staying alive without talk therapy and yoga for mental health.

I have actively been in therapy for the last five years. During this time I have safely processed a lot of trauma while developing numerous life hacks to keep my going. I also completed countless hours of research into mental health, the nervous system, and somatic healing, which culminated in a 300- hour yoga teacher training in Yoga and Psychology.

This year I added a new tool to my recovery, micro-dosing psilocybin. Psychedelics are a powerful tool to help shed layers of conditioning and access a deeper level of self-knowing and self-love. I am excited to continue to use this powerful tool so that maybe I can one-day witness a version of myself that doesn't even know what suicide is even if it's only for a few hours.

One of the most powerful tools I hope to always have in my recovery toolkit is this...talking about it. I know suicide is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. It's hard to listen to someone talk about wanting to end their life. And it's even harder to find the words to share this incredible dark internal experience. But, as a survivor, it is imperative that I use the language I have discovered to share my experience and how I feel.

Just like with grief, living with chronic suicidal ideations doesn't go away. With grief, we continue to grow a larger container that helps us hold and navigate our loss. With chronic suicidal ideations I have developed an ever evolving toolkit that helps recognize, acknowledge, and contend with my suicidal ideations.

I am grateful that you took the time and held space to read about complicated grief, chronic suicidal ideations, and allowed me to share part of my journey. I hope that by demonstrating radical vulnerability, someone else will find the courage to seek help and begin to develop their recovery toolkit.

If you want to make Yoga for Mental Health a part of your life, click here to schedule a strategy session so we can begin that conversation.


Resources used for this blog:


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I'm Dani

I blend the transformative power of therapeutic yoga and career coaching to guide your toward holistic well-being and professional fulfillment. 

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