How To Deal With Grief After A Suicide
Dealing with suicide loss can be isolative and unforgiving. Like all grief, we go through the cycle, we look for the answers, and we struggle to understand what life will be like afterwards. Suicide grief is no different and at times can feel worse. Suicide is a death we can never plan for, despite if you know that your loved one may have struggled with the thoughts, the death is never foreseen or anticipated. There is a common saying that “suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems”, and that solution creates permanent problems for the survivors of the deceased.
As a suicide survivor, there are some messages that we need to be reminded. Below are a few of those to support you through the process and the heartache as you learn to continue to grow forward.
1. You are grieving the loss of your loved one as a victim and processing them as the murderer.
When someone takes their own life, there is an understanding that the same person who died, is the killer of that victim. We tend to become angry with the victim, which may lead to guilt, but we must not fail to recognize the dynamics of their death. Your anger towards them is valid and understandable. They are their own murderer.
2. You are never to blame for missing a "sign".
After a suicide happens, we tend to start looking for answers. Instead of a reason why we end up finding warning signs and statistics. We start to see that people who are looking to end their lives give things away or become isolative. We find that women are more likely to attempt suicide, while white, middle-aged, cisgender males are more likely to complete suicide. But at the end of the day, those statistics or warning signs start to make us feel inadequate, like we didn’t “recognize the signs” fast enough. This is far from the truth, we are blinded by our love and compassion for our significant others, therefore; we don’t always see the struggles or the ugly side of their mental health.
3. It's not that they didn't love/care for you, they were struggling with their own self-love.
A common theme for those who have lost a loved one by suicide is feeling like they are not enough. Especially for children and spouses, who feel that their love and their lives were not enough to motivate the victim to stay alive. The absolute truth is, that many who complete suicide are trying to save their loved ones from themselves. Many deaths are because the victims felt like a burden to others or not enough for those around them. Some believe that their deaths will benefit others and save themselves from their devastating thoughts and lives. As a suicide survivor, you were never the problem in their lives. Instead, they were struggling to see what benefit they brought to your life.
4. There are incredible amounts of resources and supports for you to turn to.
As I’ve said before; suicide grief is extremely isolative and lonely. Every death and loss is different and tragically unique. It may be hard to relate to another person’s loss. Because of the circumstances, suicide survivors have worked hard to create a community of support and growth for one another. Never forget the resources available to us on our phones, in the community and globally. Every story is special to us and deserves to be heard. As we continue to understand more about suicide loss, it is important to reach out and be heard.
Suicide Hotline: (800) 273-8255
**** Written for Meridian Counseling by: Jessica Dirk, ACSW Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker (ACSW 81562)
INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH JESSICA?
Phone: (626) 759-4461
Supervised by: Sandra Kushnir, LMFT (99225)