All grief is unique
When a loved one dies by suicide, overwhelming emotions can leave you reeling. Your grief might be heart wrenching. At the same time, you might be consumed by guilt — wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one’s death.
As you face life after a loved one’s suicide, remember that you don’t have to go through it alone.
What you may be feeling after suicide loss
- Shock. Disbelief and emotional numbness might set in. You might think that your loved one’s suicide couldn’t possibly be real.
- Anger. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you with a legacy of grief — or angry with yourself or others for missing clues about suicidal intentions.
- Guilt. You might replay “what if” and “if only” scenarios in your mind, blaming yourself for your loved one’s death.
- Despair. You might be gripped by sadness, loneliness or helplessness. You might have a physical collapse or even consider suicide yourself.
- Confusion. Many people try to make some sense out of the death, or try to understand why their loved one took his or her life. But, you’ll likely always have some unanswered questions.
- Feelings of rejection. You might wonder why your relationship wasn’t enough to keep your loved one from dying by suicide.
Dealing with the Stigma
You might continue to experience intense reactions during the weeks and months after your loved one’s suicide — including nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities — especially if you witnessed or discovered the suicide.
- Keep in touch. Reach out to loved ones, friends and spiritual leaders for comfort, understanding and healing. Surround yourself with people who are willing to listen when you need to talk, as well as those who’ll simply offer a shoulder to lean on when you’d rather be silent.
- Grieve in your own way. Do what’s right for you, not necessarily someone else. There is no single “right” way to grieve. If you find it too painful to visit your loved one’s gravesite or share the details of your loved one’s death, wait until you’re ready.
- Be prepared for painful reminders. Anniversaries, holidays and other special occasions can be painful reminders of your loved one’s suicide. Don’t chide yourself for being sad or mournful. Instead, consider changing or suspending family traditions that are too painful to continue.
- Don’t rush yourself. Losing someone to suicide is a tremendous blow, and healing must occur at its own pace. Don’t be hurried by anyone else’s expectations that it’s been “long enough.”
- Expect setbacks. Some days will be better than others, even years after the suicide — and that’s OK. Healing doesn’t often happen in a straight line.
- Consider a support group for families affected by suicide.Sharing your story with others who are experiencing the same type of grief might help you find a sense of purpose or strength. However, if you find going to these groups keeps you ruminating on your loved one’s death, seek out other methods of support.
Compiled by the Mayo Clinic. Click to read more
Living with Grief
- Refraining from working on your grief delays the healing process.
- Each death we encounter brings back previous deaths.
- Learning how to heal is vital to living a rich, fulfilled and rewarding life.
- Coaching works at the rate you decide. Grief is never rushed.
- Grief coaching can be done by phone and in the comfort of your own surroundings.
- Grief bottled up simply reappears in some way.
- When in pain, learn not to fight it.
- Grief causes vulnerability especially after a traumatic, sudden death.
- Emotional wounds need time and help to heal.
- Cry, cry and cry some more. Release those tears of toxins to begin to feel better.
- Learn that you are able to bend and you will not break.
- Know you can heal and that is a choice “you” make.
- Know that the reality of grief is terribly lonely and takes work to heal.
- Learn the language of feelings to teach others how to treat you.
- There are no rules about the length of time you will take to heal.
- Grievers need to talk and talk to come to grips with what has happened
From Bob Riley Grief Coach Read More
Riley, B, Living with Grief and Understanding Grief Cycles, Retrieved from http://www.bobrileycoaching.com/grief_coaching.html
Mayo Clinic Staff, Suicide grief: Healing after a loved one’s suicide, Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/suicide/art-20044900/in-depth/art-20044900