One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is losing someone that you love. But when they take their own life in some way, the suffering becomes that much worse for those left behind. Questions go through your mind and you aren't totally sure how to deal with it. And that's okay - it's hard to be the people that are left behind from such a painful experience. International Survivors of Suicide Day is November 15th, and this day is to help people realize that they are not alone in this journey, and that they do not need to feel afraid. It's a day to process feelings and remember those that we have lost. In today's article, we're going to take a look at some of the things you may work through while going through the grief process of losing someone you love to suicide.
Dealing with the Big Question
The big question that goes through the mind of survivors of suicide is "why?" This question usually comes up a lot because the survivors always wonder if there is something that they could have done in order to try and save their loved one. Of course, there are dangers to this question, because if you become obsessed with it, you may start to blame yourself for your loved one's suicide. Do not fall into that trap. It's important to remember that it's not your fault. Even though we have the power to influence people we love with our actions and our words, we never have the power to force someone to do something or not to do something. That's a hard thing to keep a hold of during this time, because it's usually part of the "bargaining" process that comes with grief, but please remember that.
The truth is, you may never fully understand why your loved one decided to end their life. That's a hard thing to deal with, because many of us are logical people who want an answer for everything that happens, and when we can't find a logical answer, it frustrates and upsets us. And that's okay. Your loved one may have left a note or something else to let you know why they felt the way that they did, so that may help the ease of "why" somewhat, but that doesn't mean that you won't still have questions. Feel what you have to feel, and talk to others about what is going on in your mind. By processing the "why" and letting yourself feel in a healthy manner, you will find that it's easier for you to get through everything in a healthy way.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
There are, of course, a lot of other things to keep in mind during the grieving process as well. Many of the things that we will talk about here don't only apply to losing someone to suicide - they are general tips that you can apply to practically any situation that involves grieving for the loss of a loved one. I will, however, get into more detail about suicide in particular in each of the tips. Here are some of the most important things that you want to remember when you are working through the loss of a loved one to suicide.
Grief can be full of ups and downs, and that's okay, and even healthy. No matter what you are grieving for, you will find that grief is full of ups and downs that you will go through. It's a difficult process to work through, but if you're ready for good days and bad days, you will be better off for it. It's even more so when you've lost someone to suicide, because that big question of "why" keeps coming up, and all sorts of reminders will bring up the feelings again, from the day that they passed away, to anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. The first year is usually the hardest, especially in this case, but as time goes on, the ups will be more often and the downs will be less often.
Don't think you'll ever "get over it;" but know that you will, someday, hurt less than you do right now. No one ever "gets over" losing someone. I lost my mom to cancer over four years ago and it still hurts sometimes. When you lose a loved one, it may feel like you are losing a part of yourself - and that's okay, because you are. Everyone plays a significant role in our lives, and when one of those people leaves our life, no matter what fashion, it leaves a gaping hole. It hurts even more with suicide sometimes, because you're stuck wondering whether or not you could have kept them here - and that thought may always cross your mind. The important thing is to know that you are not alone and that your loved one is at peace, now; some days will definitely hurt, and may hurt for the rest of your life, but it will get better.
Consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor in order to work through your pain and feelings. This is, perhaps, the most important piece of advice I can give you here. If you join a support group and/or see a counselor in order to work through your grief, the chances that you will get through your grief in a healthy way are much better. There may be unresolved things that you need to work through, and it can also be really helpful to be surrounded by those that you know understand you and understand how you're feeling. The support you get from others who have lost a loved one to suicide can be substantial and really help you to thrive in your life.
Don't lose touch with other loved ones that may have been affected by the tragedy. It's hard not to hide in yourself when a loved one commits suicide, but you have to reach out to your other loved ones. They are hurting as much as you are hurting, and need you to be with them through the pain and the heartache that you are all going through. Losing a loved one is painful, but if you seclude yourself, you're just going to keep rolling through the pain again and again. Walk through it with your loved ones and you will find that it is a little bit easier to survive it.
Get back into a routine and allow yourself to enjoy your life again, even though it may be hard for you to do so at first. Just because you lost a loved one to suicide does not mean that the world stops. It's hard to remember that, but your loved one would want you to move on and enjoy your life to the best of your ability. It will be hard at first - you will think about them, their circumstances will come to mind and you may be concerned about a number of things, but you have to go out there, get back into a normal routine, and enjoy life again as part of the grieving process. It's what you will need in order to overcome the pain and ache that happens with the loss.
Don't be afraid to talk about it - people are expecting you to, and they will help you through the painful feelings. Some people, when they lose a loved one, are hesitant to talk about it because they don't want to "burden people." It's absolutely fine for people to talk about their feelings, and honestly, the people around you may find it odd if you don't talk about it, especially in the few weeks or months after it happened. It's healthy to talk about it, and it can help you to process your thoughts and feelings.
Losing someone to suicide is hard, but you are not alone. November 15th is a day where people like you stand up and walk together to deal with the grief and loss associated with losing someone to suicide. If you need help coping, please keep these tips in mind and consider talking to someone about what is going on. It's a difficult process to work through, but with the right help, you too can overcome what is going on and be stronger for it in the end.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2014). Where Do I Begin? Retrieved June 24, 2014, from https://www.afsp.org/coping-with-suicide-loss/where-do-i-begin
Hello Grief. (2012, March 27). Losing Someone to Suicide. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.hellogrief.org/losing-someone-to-suicide/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, May 12). Suicide grief: Healing after a loved one's suicide. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900
National Health System (UK). (2012, May 12). Losing someone close through suicide. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Suicide/Pages/Suicidebereavement.aspx
University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. (2013). Coping With Losing a Friend or Family Member to Suicide. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from http://www.cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html