Losing someone to suicide can be one of the most difficult things a person goes through. It can feel like there is nobody to talk to, or like you are alone in your grief. That’s why it is so important to reach out to friends and family members who have lost someone to suicide. They need our support now more than ever. In this blog post, we will discuss 9 ways that you can comfort a friend who has lost someone to suicide.
Common Reactions to a Loved One’s Suicide
People who have lost a loved one to suicide may experience a range of different emotions. These emotions can be intense and overwhelming and often change from day to day or hour to hour. Some people may find it difficult to eat or sleep, while others may feel the need to constantly talk about their loved one or about suicide. Many suicide loss survivors find it helpful to seek out support groups or counseling, where they can share their experiences with others who understand what they are going through.
Denial: One of the first emotions that suicide loss survivors may experience is denial. This typically occurs in the immediate aftermath of suicide and can manifest as feelings of disbelief or shock, as well as a failure to accept what has happened. Many people may try to deny or downplay the severity of their loved one’s suicide or refuse to believe that suicide was even involved at all.
Anger: Many suicide loss survivors find themselves feeling angry, often at the person who died by suicide or at other loved ones for perceived shortcomings or failures. This anger can be directed inward as well, resulting in feelings of guilt and self-blame. Some people may also feel anger toward mental health professionals or suicide prevention organizations for not providing enough support or resources.
Grief: is another common emotion that suicide loss survivors may experience in the wake of suicide. This grief can manifest itself in many different ways, including sadness, despair, emptiness, and hopelessness. Some people may also feel numb or detached from their emotions as they attempt to cope with their loss.
Hope: Despite the many difficult emotions that suicide loss survivors may experience, it is important to remember that there is hope for recovery and healing. There are many resources available to help support suicide loss survivors through this difficult time, including counseling, support groups, and suicide prevention organizations. By seeking out professional help or connecting with others going through a similar experience, suicide loss survivors can begin to heal and move forward with their lives.
Questioning: In addition to the emotions mentioned above, suicide loss survivors may also find themselves questioning why the suicide occurred. This can include wondering what they could have done differently or what signs they missed along the way. These questions are often difficult to answer and may not have any easy solutions. However, it is important for suicide loss survivors to know that these feelings are normal and often part of the grieving process.
Depression: Along with all the other emotions that suicide loss survivors may experience, depression is also common. This can take the form of a general feeling of sadness or emptiness, as well as physical symptoms like fatigue or insomnia. If you are experiencing depressive symptoms as a suicide loss survivor, it is important to seek out professional help in order to get support and start on the path to healing. With time, support, and self-care, it is possible to move past your grief and begin rebuilding your life.
Acceptance: Ultimately, suicide loss survivors must work towards acceptance of their loved one’s suicide. This may be a slow and difficult journey that takes time and support from others. However, with the right resources and the willingness to heal, suicide loss survivors can eventually begin to accept what has happened and move forward in their lives.
Everyone experiences grief differently, and it is important to be respectful of how someone chooses to cope with the death of a loved one.
Related: Suicide Among Men
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please take the suicide risk test. This can help provide you with more information about your risk for suicide and what steps you can take to get help. It is important to remember that there is hope for recovery and healing, and there are many resources available to support suicide loss survivors through this difficult time.
How to Offer Support and Comfort a Friend Who Has Lost Someone to Suicide
When a loved one dies by suicide, it can be an extremely traumatic and emotional experience. Many people may feel a wide range of emotions, including anger, guilt, sadness, and confusion. Additionally, survivors may struggle with feelings of isolation and depression.
1. Reach out to your friend in a caring and non-judgmental manner.
It can be difficult for someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide to reach out for help, so it is important to be there for them and offer your support. Offer your friend open-ended questions such as “How are you doing?” or “Can I do anything to help?” This will show them that you are there to listen and are not trying to push your own views or opinions on them.
2. Encourage your friend to seek professional support if they seem overwhelmed by their emotions.
If your friend seems particularly distraught following the suicide of a loved one, it may be helpful for them to speak with a therapist or counselor who can help them work through their feelings. This can be a difficult step to take, especially if your friend is feeling ashamed or embarrassed about what has happened, so be sensitive and supportive as you encourage them to seek professional help.
3. Let them know that suicide is not something they should feel guilty or ashamed about.
It can be easy for a person who has lost a loved one to suicide to feel as though they are responsible or somehow “to blame” for what happened. Remind your friend that suicide is not their fault, and that suicide is often the result of mental illness or other factors that are beyond anyone’s control.
4. Avoid making insensitive comments about the suicide or the suicide victim.
While you may be trying to comfort your friend or offer a positive perspective, certain comments or phrases about suicide or the suicide victim can be hurtful and insensitive. Avoid statements such as “You should be grateful for what you still have” or “At least he is no longer in pain.” Instead, focus on being supportive and compassionate, and remind your friend that there is no shame in grieving for someone who has passed away.
5. Respect the loved one’s suicide note if it has been shared with you or if you have access to it.
In some cases, suicide victims will leave behind a suicide note or other messages that can be an important part of the grieving process. While it may be difficult to read or hear these messages, it is important to respect your friend’s wishes if they ask you not to share what has been written.
6. Don’t try to “fix” their feelings or tell them how they should feel.
It can be tempting for friends and family members to try and “cheer up” someone who has experienced a suicide loss, but it is important to remember that everyone grieves differently. Let your friend know that you are there for them and simply trying to support them in their time of need, rather than trying to push them in a certain direction or tell them how they should feel.
7. Avoid comparing your friend’s suicide loss to other types of losses.
While a suicide loss may feel similar in some ways to losing someone due to a terminal illness or another type of death, it is important not to compare suicide losses with other types of losses. Each loss carries its own set of emotions and challenges, and suicide loss requires its own unique types of support and understanding.
8. Seek help for yourself, if you are struggling with your own emotions surrounding the suicide loss.
If you find that you are struggling to cope with your own feelings in relation to a suicide loss, it is important to seek professional help as well. Whether this means speaking with a therapist, joining a suicide support group, or simply talking with friends and family members about your feelings, it is essential to find ways to work through your own emotions so that you can continue to be there for your friend.
9. Remember that suicide loss takes time to heal from, and offer your ongoing support as needed.
Finally, remember that suicide loss takes time to heal from. Your friend may experience difficult emotions for many months or even years following the suicide of a loved one. As their friend and supporter, your role is to be there for them when they need you, without trying to rush their grief process or tell them how they should feel. With time and patience, your friend will begin to heal from their loss and find ways to move forward.
Related: Talking To Your Kids About Suicide
A word from Psy-Ev
Your friend may be feeling a range of painful and difficult emotions after losing a loved one to suicide. You may not know what to say or do to help them, but simply reaching out and spending time with them can make a big difference.
Creating a safe space where they can share their feelings without judgment can be very important. Letting them know that they can count on you is also crucial.
Suicide is a difficult topic for anyone to deal with, but it can be especially hard for friends and family members of the person who died. It’s important to be there for your friend and offer them support as they cope with their loss.