Why…? Support After a Suicide Loss
What is Grief? Grief changes your life. Grief is an emotion, not a disease. Grief is a natural reaction to death and loss. Grief can help us better understand who we are. Grief is a personal experience; no two people grieve the same way.
The grief due to a death by suicide is difficult because….
Suicide can carry with it a stigma. The question of ‘why’ someone took their life often may be difficult to answer. Feelings of guilt and shame are often associated with a loss from suicide.
Normal grief feelings due to a death by suicide
You will feel many emotions after your loss. Freely give yourself permission to experience those emotions. You may have feelings that are not listed here. Like the waves of an ocean, your grief will sometimes be very powerful and overwhelming. At other times, your grief will seem more gentle and even comforting.
It Is Okay To Feel Confused And In Shock.
- “Everything is so unreal”
- “This can’t be happening to me.”
It Is Okay To Have Feelings Of Denial.
- “Nothing has happened, so I’m going to act as if nothing has happened.”
- “He/she is not dead so everything is going to be okay.”
It Is Okay To Have Feelings Of Shame.
- “Everybody thinks I should have been able to prevent the suicide.”
- “Maybe I would be better off dead too!”
It Is Okay To Feel Guilty.
- “I should have seen the signs and prevented the suicide.”
- “If only I had …”
It Is Okay To Feel The Physical Effects Of Grief.
- “I can’t sleep and I’m not hungry.”
- “I have a headache, maybe I have a brain tumor.”
It Is Okay To Feel Fear And Abandonment.
- “Am I capable of taking my own life?”
- “Is anyone else I know going to die by suicide?”
It Is Okay To Feel Angry.
- Self-directed: “Why wasn’t I able to prevent the suicide?”
- Community-directed: “Why couldn’t they (doctors, counsellors) have done something?”
- Directed to the person who died by suicide: “You have ruined my life!”
It Is Okay To Feel Relief.
- “Your suffering is over.”
- “I remember the good times we had together.”
Signs That You Need Some Help With Your Grief
Ask yourself the following questions. Answer them honestly. If the answer to answer is yes, you may benefit from support through your grief. It’s okay to ask for help.
- Are you becoming dependent on illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol since your loss?
- Drugs and alcohol numb the pain rather than helping you deal with your grief and move forward with your life.
- Are you experiencing signs of depression over long periods of time?
- Signs of depression include constant crying, loss of interest in activities, family and friends, tendency to isolate yourself, preoccupation with suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and despair.
- Are you becoming overly involved with activities, family and friends as compared to before the suicide?
- Excessive busyness is a way of avoiding the pain of grief.
- Are you preoccupied with the deceased or with the idea of death?
- Are you unable to carry out the simple day-to-day tasks of living?
- Are you becoming violent or acting out your feelings inappropriately?
Reaching Out For Help
Talk, talk, talk. talk to someone that you trust. This person could be a family member, friend, teacher, clergy, counselor or physician. Join a grief support group. Share your story over and over again.
Ask for support. This is not a sign of weakness but a sign of courage.
Keep a journal or create a scrapbook. Write, draw or scribble your thoughts and feelings. There is no right or wrong way to journal or make a scrapbook.
Get creative or physically active: Swim, go hiking, learn a new sport, paint, play an instrument, cook, write a poem or story.
Be yourself and take one day at a time.