Suicide Grief and How to Cope With a Lost Loved One

Woman crying.

Suicide Grief and How to Cope With a Lost Loved One

Those who have lost friends or family members to suicide are faced with deep and complex emotions that can impact the grieving process. Suicide bereavement can differ substantially from other forms of grief, making it important for survivors to connect with others who understand what they are going through. While there’s no easy way to make the pain go away, there are steps you can take to make coping easier. For instance,  talking about and honoring the victim is a great outlet that helps family and friends work throughsuicide grief. Healing may take years, but the support from others is very beneficial during the grieving process. You are not alone and you will get through this.

Dealing with the Impact of Suicide

Often, suicides are unexpected, leaving family members and friends feeling shocked or numb. When faced with traumatic situations like suicide cleanup or having to plan a funeral, many people find that others who have gone through the process are able to help them cope with the intense and unexpected feelings that accompany these tasks.

During the grieving process, some people may experience feelings of anger or depression. Once the initial shock has worn off, they may find that they are unable to handle the tidal waves of emotions that can seem to overtake them. Survivors may go through the following emotions:

  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Loneliness
  • Despair
  • Shame

Another common hurdle that suicide survivors deal with is the barrage of self-imposed ‘what if’ questions — “what if I had called them first? What if I could have helped?” etc. These perceived missteps stem from guilt and are asked in hindsight, where everything is 20-20. However, this type of self blame is misguided — you cannot possibly understand someone’s internal struggles, no matter how happy they may seem on the outside. A therapist and support group setting will help you realize that their death is not your fault.

These support networks will reduce the feelings of isolation that one may experience and give survivors a safe place to talk about the painful issues that they are living through.

Adopting Coping Strategies During Suicide Grief

When working through suicide grief, developing positive coping strategies can help prevent survivors from becoming overwhelmed. For some, reaching out to friends, family, or religious leaders provides a place where survivors feel comfortable talking about the deceased. Planning special events on important dates can also be a good coping strategy, since it allows loved ones to honor and remember the life of the deceased. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep, provides the energy needed to cope with the loss.

Other healthy coping strategies include:

  • Being prepared: you will most likely experience intense emotions during painful reminders — birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other occasions will remind you of your lost loved one. Do not be afraid to cancel an event that might be too painful to deal with. Keep in mind that grief often comes in waves — there is no linear road to recovery and you can expect some days to be worse than others. This is perfectly normal.
  • Give yourself time: everybody grieves differently and at different paces. Allow yourself time to heal and do not let anybody tell you to “get over it”.
  • Grieve your way: there’s really no right way to grieve. There’s plenty of advice out there, but if you find one strategy isn’t working, do not be afraid to pivot to a different one. Avoid turning to unhealthy vices (smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol use, etc.), but do not let others guilt you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with.
  • Support groups: surrounding yourself with a community of people who are going through the same thing will lend you strength and empower those around you to grieve in a healthy way. You don’t have to go through suicide grief alone.

  • Rebuild: a loved one’s suicide can affect every aspect of your life. It can cause dramatic shifts in your personal life and even completely change your worldview. With professional help, you can rebuild your life in a new, different and healthy way, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Finding Emotional Recovery

Acceptance is the final stage of grief, one that some survivors work many years after the event to achieve. Support groups can aid in guiding people toward emotional recovery and help provide a sense of peace. While complete acceptance may be difficult to obtain, fellow survivors can offer practical solutions and a sympathetic ear.

Aftermath is Here to Help 24/7 With Suicide Cleanup

Thoroughly and professionally cleaning the home/area of the incident is one way to start on the road to recovery following a traumatic occurrence like a suicide or unattended death. Aftermath Services offers professional, compassionate, and discreet suicide cleanup services designed to return the home to a clean, safe state. Furthermore, the technicians at Aftermath are experienced in working with families who have been through challenging and emotionally difficult situations. Client service managers will walk you through every step of the process, while a knowledgeable supervisor will answer your questions and ensure your home is ready for habitation.