What Is Grief?

The loss of a loved one changes your life.  Grief is the natural reaction we experience when someone important in our lives dies.  The grieving process is highly personal and often transformative; no two people will grieve the same way.

A death that occurs by suicide, often results in a complicated grief due to the traumatic nature of the loss. The shock and unexpected nature of a suicide loss often interrupts the natural grieving process, leaving mourners confused and devasted.  The historic stigma associated with a suicide loss, can also leave mourners feeling isolated and with feelings of shame.

Below you will find information on grief and suicide loss. Whether you have experienced loss or are supporting someone who is grieving, please know that you are not alone.

Why…? Support After A Suicide Loss

Why…? is a 9-week closed group specifically designed for individuals who are facing the unique challenges of traumatic grief after a family member or friend has died by suicide.
To learn more about the “Why…?” group, please visit: https://wrspc.ca/coping-with-suicide-loss/support/

Normal Grief Feelings Due to A Death by Suicide

You may feel many emotions after your loss, including confusion, denial, shame, guilt, fear, depression, anger or relief. You may also feel other emotions that were not listed. Freely give yourself permission to experience those emotions.  As part of your grief, you may begin to question your faith or spiritual beliefs. You may also have thoughts of suicide yourself. All of this can be normal reactions, and it is okay to ask for help and support. 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.

Grief can also cause a physical response in your body. You may experience your grief physically in your body as feelings of anxiety or shakiness, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, or increased pain and tension in your muscles.

In the immediate days, weeks and months after your loss you may feel uncertain about how to move forward, or how to cope with the emotions you are experiencing. Some things that may be helpful during this time are:

  • Claiming your right to grieve. Everyone grieves differently and there is no timeline for grief. Try not to feel pressured to meet the expectations of others regarding your grief.
  • Having support from friends and family to manage callers or visitors, and help with any funeral or memorial arrangements.
  • Developing a brief, prepared response to share if or when people ask about your loss, so that you don’t have to think of what to say each time.
  • Taking one day at a time and being gentle with the expectations you place on yourself.
  • Engaging in physical activity. Exercising your body through gentle movements such as walking, swimming, or cycling may help to manage the physical impacts of grief and strong emotions.

Signs That You May Need Some Help With Your Grief

In your grief journey, there may be times that you need help and support. If you are struggling, ask yourself the following questions. Answer them honestly. If the answer to a question is “yes,” you may benefit from professional support. Remember, it is okay to ask for help.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Are you constantly preoccupied with the deceased or with the idea of death?
  5. Are you unable to carry out the simple day-to-day tasks of living?
  6. Are you becoming violent or acting out your feelings inappropriately?

Reaching Out for Help and Support

When you are overwhelmed with grief, it can be hard to reach out for help or know what kind of support to ask for. It can be important to let others help you; look to your friends, family, place of worship, community, and others for support.

You can also access support and help during your grief journey by:

  • Connecting with your family doctor or general practitioner.
  • Finding a trauma-informed grief counsellor or therapist (visit the Counselling and Other Supports page for some local options).
  • Joining a bereavement support group for those who have experienced suicide loss.

More Information

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt