Coping with the emotional pain of loosing someone to suicide.
Enduring the loss of a loved one, whether a friend, family member or even an acquaintance can have a lasting impact upon your life and wellbeing. In the short term the pain is intense and the triggers are everywhere; you may even find yourself tearing up for seemingly no reason at all. In the long-term, it can feel like there’s a hole in your heart and in your life for the person you have lost.
Have you lost someone you love to suicide? If you have, you are a survivor of suicide. Survivors of suicide can include spouses, partners, children, family members; or anyone who is impacted by the loss of suicide. This form of loss can bring about an array of emotions and unanswered questions.
The longing to have that person back, feeling their death came too soon, wishing you could have done something or done more to prevent their passing? These are all very normal emotional pain responses of your loss.You may find yourself thinking obsessively about how this could happen? How did you not know that this person was suffering so much or even thinking about taking their own life? And How do I go on from here? During this difficult time, it’s important to remember that your emotions are normal. There is no wrong way to grieve and everyone processes loss in their own way and in their own time.
Here a few tips to help you navigate the wide range of emotions and thoughts you may find yourself struggling with:
Often times, frustration and anger will arise, and people can feel guilty for experiencing this emotion. Recognize that these are natural responses to the grief process and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Give yourself compassion and space to experience these emotions. It does not mean you are a bad person. Rather, it is a reflection of your humanity.
“When you experience loss, people say you’ll move through the 5 stages of grief….
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll cycle through them all every day.” ― Ranata Suzuki
Many people wonder if they could have done something. Anything. This often leads to questioning their relationship with the deceased. Feelings of grief will come and go in waves as time passes. Some days will be calm. Other days will be painful. This is all normal. With time these waves of grief will lessen and eventually subside and learning to navigate them will become easier. Speaking with a professional mental health counselor to help process feelings of guilt may prove helpful and is an important step you can take to navigate these waters and being your best self.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy
When news of suicide hits, it can often feel like the walls are closing in, leaving nowhere to turn and nothing to do. It is normal to feel isolated and depressed at times. Although our culture often takes a taboo perspective on discussing the topic of suicide, it is important to know that there are people who care for you and are willing to help you through these trials. Reach out to close friends and family, local support groups, or a counselor.
Hope becomes the lighthouse we use to weather the storm of loss. Hope is the thing we continually come back to, even when we’ve temporarily lost our way. Connecting with others who can help you keep hope alive during these dark times is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
“We remember the people who show up in our darkest hours.” ― Shauna L. Hoey
Grief can be an isolating experience. The sadness can make us believe that no one will understand our pain, causing us to hold it inside. The truth is that others will never know exactly how you feel but they can empathize with your pain and help you through your own process of grief.
When you’re ready to reach out for help, there are wonderful groups of people standing ready to support you. Please consider these following resources to help you during this time:
- American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
- Crisis Connections (https://www.crisisconnections.org)
- Survivors of Suicide Drop-In Support Group
- 1st and 3rd Monday of the month 6:30-8:30pm
- Free: Facilitator – Mark Niezgoda, MSW, Crisis Connections Training Room, Seattle
Focusing on the future can be overwhelming. Work towards being present in the here and now. Appreciate the beauty that life offers. Work on growing a deeper connection with yourself and those who help you find joy in the midst of tragedy. Experience yourself, minute by minute, until you can handle hour by hour, and soon day by day. Please know it is possible to get better. As a survivor, you can become whole again.
“Whatever loss, pain or tragedy you have experienced, you can get through.” ― Aimee DuFresne