How to deal with suicide grief
Apr 12, 2023
The word grief does not only refer to the pain for the death of a loved one, but also to a situation of loss such as a divorce, a dismissal or the loss of a body member after an accident. Pain is a universal experience that all human beings go through at different times and situations.
Grief over the death of a loved one is never easy. In the case of mourning due to suicide, the pain becomes even more intense because it is linked to feelings of guilt and helplessness. The intentional death of a loved one leaves family and friends very confused and in a high degree of distress.
Suicide is marked by stigma. Many people see it as shameful or sinful, others see it as “a choice” and blame the family. On many occasions they do not know how to support the survivors and simply avoid the situation out of ignorance. Whatever the reason, it is important to keep in mind that suicide and the underlying grief are complex processes.
When a person commits suicide, direct family members who live with them are directly affected. the person, the rest of the family, neighbors, friends, fellow students and/or classmates job.
- Related article: "The 9 myths and false topics about suicide"
How to overcome grief due to suicide: initial reflections
Through the testimonies of those who have attempted suicide, we know that the main objective of a suicide is not to end lifebut with suffering.
People with suicidal ideation are struggling with emotional agony that makes life unacceptable. Most people who die by suicide have depression that reduces their ability to solve problems.
Why is grief more difficult to overcome?
The elaboration of mourning implies a series of processes that, beginning with the loss, end with the acceptance of reality, redirection of mental activity and the recomposition of the internal world.
Family and friends of people who have died by suicide are prone to great grief and bewilderment. They often ask themselves: “Why did this happen? How did I not see it coming?" They feel overwhelming guilt about what they should have done more or less of. They have recurring thoughts that assail them almost daily. They often feel guilty, as if they are somehow responsible.
Many also experience anger and rage towards their loved one. by abandonment or rejection, or disappointment at thinking that they were not loved enough to maintain their will to live.
These wrong assumptions can last a long time if they are not dealt with properly. Many struggle for years trying to find answers or understand an event that in many cases is incomprehensible.
On the other hand, society still plays a damaging role by creating a stigma around death by suicide that makes survivors feel left out. Survivors of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age, or other types of death often receive sympathy and compassion. A family member is never blamed for cancer or Alzheimer's, but society continues to cast a shadow over suicide.
- Related article: "The 26 types of suicide (according to different criteria)"
The role of memories
Another factor that makes mourning for suicide different are memories. When a loved one is lost to illness or accident, we keep happy memories. We can think of our loved one and share stories with nostalgia. However, this is often not the case for the suicide survivor. Thoughts like: “Maybe she wasn't happy when I took this photo of her?” "Why didn't I see her emotional pain when we were on vacation?"
Survivors of suicide bereavement not only experience these aspects of complicated grief, but also are prone to developing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The indescribable sadness about the suicide becomes an endless cycle of bewilderment, pain, flashbacks, and a need to numb the anguish.
Ways to Help a Suicide Loss Survivor
If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are many things you can do. In addition to accompanying him in his pain (mourning) you can help him get rid of the stigma created by society.
1. Ask if you can help and how
In the event that they are not willing to accept help, with this gesture you show that you are there accessible to them. Avoid distancing so that he knows that he can talk to you when he needs to.
- Related article: "How to calm down a friend when they need you"
2. Be patient
Do not set a time limit for the survivor's grief. Complicated grief can take years. Encourage him to share stories and express his thoughts. Repetition can be a key factor in recovery.
be a compassionate listener. The best gift you can give a loved one who has survived a suicide loss is your time, peace of mind, and affection.
It assumes that they need to express their feelings, sometimes with silence and other times with sadness or anger. Don't be afraid to talk about suicide. You can express your feelings of sadness and name the loved one. Those who have lost someone to suicide are in great pain, and really need your empathy, compassion, and understanding.
Ways to help yourself if you have suffered a suicide loss
It can be very painful, but you have to learn to accept reality and understand that you are not responsible for the suicide of your loved one.
1. Don't put limits on pain
The mourning period takes time. You need to go through the different phases until you accept reality.
2. plan the future
When you're ready, organize with the help of your family the days of family celebrations, birthdays and Christmas. Understand that these moments will be lived with sadness and look for ties of support and reinforcement to minimize reactions of intense sadness.
3. make connections
Consider joining a support group designed specifically for survivors of suicide bereavement. The environment can provide a healing environment and mutual support.
4. Seek professional help if you need it
Remember that you are going through one of the most difficult and painful situations in life and you may need therapy so as not to unnecessarily lengthen the phases of grief.