There are Many Normal Reactions to Suicide Loss:

  • Shock and numbness
  • Deep sadness
  • Anger and blame
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Relief
  • Denial
  • Why questions
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Spiritual or Religious Beliefs
  • Thinking about Suicide
  • Reaching Out

Coping Strategies for Living With Suicide Grief

Claim your right to grieve

Not only is it important to grieve, it is necessary to experience the pain of the suicide loss in order to gain relief.  Remember the grief process takes a long time and may never be fully resolved.

Express emotions

Grief is emotional.  It is a natural response to a traumatic loss.  Make time to grieve.  Let people you trust know when you need support.  Teach others how they can be helpful.  Most people will not automatically know what you need.  Talk to others who have experienced a loss by suicide.

Actions

Doing something active rather than just thinking to resolve emotions is healthy.  Examples include, journaling, writing letters, walking and exercising.

How To Support Those Living With Suicide Loss

It is important for relatives, friends and the larger community to support people throughout the grief process.  The following are some suggestions on how to assist survivors directly.

  • Respect the timing and pacing of an individual’s grief process.  It is a difficult journey.  Encourage them to make choices that are right for them.
  • Offer compassionate listening, understanding and patience.  Offer to do some specific tasks or chores.
  • Reassure survivors what they are feeling is normal.
  • Find out what supports are available in the community regarding a suicide loss.
  • Contact the bereaved person on a regular basis.
  • Research the impact of suicide loss.  This will help you provide support to survivors in healthy ways.

Be courageous – approach those that have lost a loved one by suicide.

Let them know you heard.  Ask them how they really are.  This is important even if it has been some time since the actual death.

Additional Resources:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Hope and Healing After Suicide: A practical guide for people who have lost someone to suicide in Ontario

Mental Health Commission of Canada – Toolkit for people who have been impacted by a suicide loss

Government of Manitoba – Suicide Prevention: Guidelines for Public Awareness & Education (includes guidelines for memorialization)

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