Grief is a normal response to losing those who are important to us. But when someone dies by suicide, those bereaved often experience a complicated form of grief caused by a combination of sudden shock, unanswered questions of ‘Why?’, and feelings of ‘What could I have done?’.
Unfortunately, suicide can have a dramatic personal effect on those close to the deceased. In dealing with the suicide of someone you know, it’s in your best interest to talk about your reactions openly and honestly, to find support to make sense of what has happened, and to learn how to live with your loss.
Suicide loss can have a profound impact on physical and mental health. It’s important people bereaved by suicide are treated with compassion and support. They may be experiencing:
- Shock, numbness, denial
- Searching for reasons ‘why?’
- Stigma and shame
- Thoughts of suicide themselves
The pain of suicide loss can’t be eased quickly, but there are things you can do to help:
- Take time out. It’s OK to give yourself time from the pain you are experiencing by doing something you enjoy.
- Stay connected and accept support from friends, family, and support networks. This will reduce your sense of isolation and feelings of loneliness associated with grief.
- Honour the deceased person. Talk about them, keep a journal, and share memories and photos.
- Stay healthy by eating well, exercising, sleeping regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
- Prioritize daily tasks: only do what is essential and avoid making major decisions until you can think more clearly.
- Ask for help if you need it. Talk to a counsellor/psychologist, a helpline, and friends and family to find comfort, support, and ways to cope.
- Join a suicide bereavement support group. Sharing your experience with others who have been through similar experiences will help you realize you are not alone.
If you are thinking about suicide get help immediately. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Visit our page of resources for suicide prevention, bereavement, and grief.