Surviving Suicide Loss

November 15, 2021

November 20 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. This day serves as an opportunity for those suffering with loss from suicide to come together, connect, heal and find hope through shared experiences. In addition, the observance serves as a time for individuals to come beside those who are devastated and uplift them through love and support.

After losing a loved one to suicide, the grief that one feels can often be difficult to handle. Intense feelings may arise, overwhelming and frightening the individual feeling them. It is important to remember that grief looks different for everyone. Some common responses to grief are feelings of guilt, confusion, anger and fear.

These emotions can then alter overall health. While grief takes a toll on mental health, physical health will then weaken as well. Individuals are typically more accident-prone, can become sick more easily, and will often feel increased amounts of fatigue.

When coping with a tragic loss, there are a handful of coping strategies and reminders to consider and apply, according to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

  • Keep asking “why” until you no longer must.
  • Healing takes time. Allow yourself the time.
  • If you can delay making major decisions, do so.
  • The path of grief is one of twists and turns.
  • Expect setbacks and occasional painful reminders.
  • Seek out people who are willing to listen.
  • Give yourself permission to seek professional help.
  • Find a support group of survivors who are experiencing some of the same things.

Responding to Survivors
As individuals struggle with grief, it is important for others to not be by-standers. There are a variety of ways to respond to those with aching hearts.

  • Tell the survivor you are sorry for their loss.
  • Understand that the survivor may be experiencing an overwhelming number of complicated emotions.
  • Remember that grief is an intensely individualistic journey.
  • Listen.
  • Be aware of the suicide survivor grief support groups in your community.
  • Minimize the stigma of suicide.