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Grieving a Suicide

Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is hard for anyone.  This is especially true when the cause of death was suicide which raises painful questions, doubts and fears.    While coping with the pain of an unexpected loss; families and friends of the deceased are often overwhelmed by feelings of blame, anger, abandonment, and guilt.  It is common for surviving family members to feel judged, or perceive a stigma associated with suicide.  Family members often fear any difficult questions from friends and family and withdraw to protect themselves.

Rather than being concerned about the perceived stigma of suicide, concentrate on your own healing and survival.  Confront the word suicide, and talk openly with your trusted friends and family so that you can begin the pathway to recovery.  Surviving family should know that you are not alone - it is estimated that 1 out of 4 people know someone who had died from suicide.  Find support groups where you can share your stories, memories and methods of coping. 

Below are common feeling experienced by survivors of suicide.  If you experience these feelings for intense long periods of time, you should consult with a mental health provider or counselor. 

Grief – Sadness and pain run deep as you mourn the loss of a loved one's life, and mourn for your loss as well.

Shock – Survivors often feel numb, denial, and disbelief and cannot accept the sudden and traumatic death.  It is hard to believe - “is really happening” or “it’s not real." 

Anger – It is common to take the anger you feel over the suicide out on your friends, family, co-workers, and therapists.  It is also common for people to direct anger towards themselves, thinking they could have done something.

Confusion – It is also hard to understand why this happened. Survivor’s often ask “Why did this happen?" 

Guilt
- Survivors often think they could have done something to prevent the suicide. They think “what if I had spent more time with them” or “if only I had been with them that night."