Grief After Suicide

You are not alone. Support is available if you have lost someone to suicide.

While the grief of suicide is unique, there is no need to grieve alone. There are a variety of supports available to you – the survivor of suicide. We list sources of support to assist you in your healing journey.

Family and Friends
You may benefit from expressing your feelings about the suicide to caring family and friends. You may need to take the initiative to talk about the suicide, share your feelings and ask for help.

Faith and Spirituality
You may find comfort in religious or spiritual activities, including talking to a trusted member of the clergy.

Counseling Services
If you or a loved one feel the need for professional counseling, contact the 24-hour Mobile Crisis Team at 216.623.6888, or your health care provider.

Emotional Reactions

Suicide brings on a wide range of emotional and physical reactions.  Each person responds uniquely when a loved one dies by suicide.  All of these reactions are completely normal.  SPEA hopes that this information will help you in your healing journey.

  • Shock: This is a nearly universal reaction following suicide. Many people feel like the situation is surreal or don’t believe it ever really happened.
  • Problems with Concentration, Judgment and Memory: Those left behind feel so many emotions following a suicide which makes it difficult to concentrate on anything other than the life altering event. You may feel distracted and forgetful, have difficulty handling everyday tasks and be unable to make decisions. Experts recommend that you do not make any major decisions for at least a year following your loss.
  • Denial: Sometimes it is hard to believe the suicide has happened.  The suicide may be too much to comprehend initially.   You may find yourself thinking or saying, “It can’t be true” or “This could not have been a suicide.”
  • Depression: Feelings of hopelessness, crying, lack of energy and immense sadness are all common after losing a loved one. If these feelings become unbearable, you may want to consult a physician or mental health professional to help you through your healing journey.
  • Fear: You may become fearful of many things following a suicide. You may fear that you are loosing your mind or are loosing control.  Fear of people forgetting your loved one and fear of what people will say about your loved one, your family or about you are all common feelings.
  • Helplessness: Many people feel helpless even before the suicide occurs. You may have felt powerless to control the financial, psychiatric or social problems that your loved one experienced before the suicide.  Perhaps your loved one refused all of your attempts to help.   Most survivors feel helpless at some point.  There are limits to what a person can do to prevent a suicide.
  • Anger: Survivors are often surprised to realize how angry they are.   It is natural to feel angry.  Your life has been permanently altered.  Anger at the person who died, anger at others and anger at yourself are all normal reactions.
  • Guilt: You may think that something you did, or didn’t do, resulted in the suicide of your loved one. Feelings of guilt can be very strong in survivors.  It is important to realize that this death was not your fault as you search to answer the question, “Why?”
  • Rejection: You may feel that you have been rejected when a loved one dies by suicide. You may be wondering why this person’s desire to stay with you was not enough to keep them alive.  In most cases, the person who died by suicide was suffering from a mental illness at the time of their death and was unable to think clearly.  They wanted the pain of living to stop and were unable to think about the impact that their death would have upon their loved ones.
  • Physical Reactions: If physical symptoms persist, see a physician.
  • Questioning: Survivors of suicide often search to answer the question, “Why?”
  • Relief: You may actually feel relief, especially if the person who died by suicide endured mental suffering for a long time.   You may feel relief that the suffering has ended.  Try not to judge yourself.

Find a Survivor Support Group that offers you the unique support that is needed after a loss to suicide and attend SPEA’s Into the Light Walk.

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