Survivor Q & A: Laura Velez

Suicide Survivor Series: Part 6

In March 2009 I started a Q & A series to bring awareness and healing to those who lost a loved one to suicide.  With a 5 question and answer format my goal was simple: provide hope, guidance and comfort to recent survivors of suicide looking for answers after loss.

The 6th installment of this series features Laura Velez, a survivor of her husband’s suicide. He died June 21, 2008. To read the first 5 installments, scroll to the bottom of this post and look for “Giggle On Survivor of Suicide Q &A Series”

In addition to helping ” brand new” survivors who often come to me for direction, advice and support, I also intended to provide a healing space for survivors like Laura to share their experience in a warm and loving environment.

Giggle On gave me a place to talk about my feelings of loss after the deaths of Jim Thompson and Jim Sims and my mission here is simply to help others heal and learn to laugh again. 😀

Laura Pokes Me

Laura and I stay connected on Facebook, often sharing stories about our dogs and “poking” each other to show each other we care in a playful way. Truth be known, Laura is the only person I let “poke” me on Facebook. To any of your poker-wanna-be’s, don’t even try poking me…unless you’re taking me out on a date first!  GMAO (translation: Giggling My Ass Off)

Please welcome Laura Velez to the Giggle On survivor community.

Laura with her husband, Muhammad

1.  How was grieving the loss of your loved one by suicide different (if at all) from grieving the loss of other loved ones who did not die by suicide?

The grief of losing my husband Muhammad to suicide is hard to describe in words. There is not only the pain of loss but the questions of “What if?” and “If only I …” Also some friends and family members could not deal with his “suicide” and my first year of intense grief which followed. This is why I feel that suicide should be talked about more openly in a public forum, in order to bring light and understanding to all aspects of surviving suicide.

2.  In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again?

1) My dog Lily was always there to bring a smile to my face as she was always her constant “silly self.”
2) Talking about my husband to those who knew him and focusing on his life and all the characteristics that made his special, really helped me.
3) My cousin Cynthia who dragged me out of the house and was always there for me with an open ear and heart and some quick witted humor!

3.  Did you feel guilt for laughing again and enjoying life after your loved one’s death? Meaning, did you feel you were not honoring their memory because you moved past intense grief?

I did feel especially guilty the first year, about laughing and enjoying life. However, as I move though different phases of grief, I realize that he would want me to live and laugh again and I am much better at doing so now, two and 1/2 years later.

4.  For those of you past the 12 month mark of a loved one’s suicide, what advice would you give to someone who has recently lost someone to suicide?

1)   Surround yourself with those few people who will allow you to express your grief openly and freely.

2)   Be gentle and patient with yourself.

3)   If you don’t have a dog to snuggle with, seriously consider adopting one. Unconditional, non-judgmental love is very important during this period of grief.

4)   Read books on surviving suicide, join support groups online or in person.

5)   Express yourself to your lost loved one, whether it be through talking aloud, painting, playing music etc.

5.  What type of resources do you feel survivor’s of suicide need the most?

Survivors of suicide need patient, understanding, supportive people around them. Support groups, hot line phone numbers, therapy and other beneficial, mental and emotional support paths are crucial in helping you get through the first 12 months.

More Info

If you recently lost a loved one to suicide, please accept my most sincere condolences. You may feel lost, scared, depressed and confused, but please know…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Help is available for you.

For Grief and Survivor Resources, please visit our Resources page and scroll to the bottom.

With love,


For more posts in the Survivor Series, click the links below. If you would like to be a part of this series, please answer the 5 questions and send a photo of yourself with your loved one. Send your email to christa at giggle on dot com.

Giggle On Survivor of Suicide Q &A Series

Survivor Q & A: Annie DiMattia

Survivor Q & A: Jayla Boire

Survivor Q & A: Kelli Karlton

Survivor Q & A: Erica Volkman

Survivor Q & A: Dempsey Rice


  1. Dearest Laura,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I lost my cousin to suicide, and so much of what you write is resonant with me. I agree with you that the more we talk about this openly, the more we all heal. Bless you for telling your story.
    Warm hugs and love

  2. I am amazed and strengthened by the bravery demonstrated by all in this series – your honesty and transparency are key to helping others.

    Thank you all!

  3. Oh, dear Laura! THANK YOU for sharing your story with us!
    I cannot imagine the sadness and all other emotions you must’ve endured since the loss of your husband. I couldn’t agree more about having a dog to pull you up when you’re feeling low.
    I hope you realize how courageous and inspiring you are to others who are faced with such challenges and heartache. I hope you keep talking about it. I hope you keep sharing. For it is through the sharing that we find some light in the darkest of places. YOU are a light. KEEP SHINING!! …and mostly, GIGGLE ON, GIRL! Belly rubs to Lily! : )

  4. Ms. Laura,

    Thank you VERY MUCH for taking the time to answer some tough questions about an even tougher illness. I can’t imagine the incredible sense of loss you must have felt with your husband’s passing. You’re courage and strength to move through each day a step at a time is inspiring. I lost my very first boyfriend, Jim, to suicide. We remained friends into adulthood. He forever changed my life in many ways. He sneaks up on me from time to time in places I least expect. I took me a long time to reconcile his passing and was thankful to have Giggle On and fellow survivors that could relate to how I feel. Thank you again for sharing your story. You’re amazing!

  5. Like Jackie, I lost a lifelong friend to suicide. What I keep reading over and over, and have experienced myself, is how many family members and friends are unable to understand and in effect turn away when what you need most is for someone to BE THERE and LISTEN. Nine months, one incredible friend, and a couple of really cool beagles later, I am beginning to find my footing again. It takes time, patience, the friends who truly understand, support groups and the willingness to walk through the fire. Thank you Laura, for your strength and your honesty, and thank you Giggle On!

    • Dear @Lissa Rankin @Ken Grant @Annie @Jackie @Karal @El Delgado, thank you for stopping by to show my friend Laura support. It takes an enormous amount of courage to talk about suicide and I applaud Laura for stepping into the spotlight here to share her story to help others heal.

      Sometimes we all may feel lost and alone in this big crazy world but we are all very much connected by the power of love. From the deepest recesses in my heart I say to you all, Namaste.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story Laura. I am so sorry for your loss and I appreciate your vulnerability. You are so right, being able to express your feelings about what has happend and about the person you have lost is the key to healing… hubby and I lost a dear friend to suicide, he was like a brother. Surrounded by people who listened as we talked and shared memories and regrets helped tremendously. Suicide leaves a torrent of emotions and it helps to be able to express them in a safe place.
    Giggle on Laura. May you continue to find peace and healing…..

  7. To Everyone,

    Thank you so much for your sweet, honest and supportive comments……………I wish you all peace, laughter and continued Healing!!!

    Laura and Lily

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