The loss of a loved one can be overwhelming, and that sense of loss can be even greater when a friend or family takes his or her own life.
Many people have no experience coping with the suicide of a loved one, which is why it can be so devastating when someone you love takes their own life. Lifeline Australia, an organization that offers crisis support and suicide prevention services, notes that people who recently lost a loved one to suicide often experience a complicated form of grief. This grief can be characterized by shock and can affect survivors' physical and mental health.
Survivors may experience emotions such as guilt, anger, despair, and/or depression, all of which only makes it more difficult to cope. Lifeline Australia offers the following tips to people struggling to cope with the suicide of a loved one.
• Take some time off from the pain. Survivors may feel as though it's inappropriate to do something other than grieve after the suicide of a loved one. But Lifeline Australia notes that it's alright to take time to do something you enjoy in the aftermath of a loved one's suicide.
• Stay connected to loved ones. Friends and family, even those who did not know the deceased, will likely offer their support in the wake of this tragedy. Accept that support and make a conscious effort to stay connected with your loved ones. Grief can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. Relying on your support network and accepting their support is a great way to overcome those feelings.
• Honor the deceased. Don't hesitate to share memories, photos and stories about your loved one who committed suicide. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline notes that some people find it helpful to write to a lost loved one, as doing so can provide a means to say some of the things survivors were unable to say before a loved one's death.
• Don't be afraid to ask for help. Organizations like Lifeline Australia and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline encourage survivors to utilize their helplines and/or speak with counsellors and psychologists trained in helping people deal with the suicide of a loved one. Many hotlines make help available 24 hours a day year-round, so it's never a bad time to call and seek help.
• Join a support group. Feelings of loneliness are common after a loved one commits suicide, but survivors must remember that they're not alone. Support groups for survivors allow you to share your experience with others in similar situations.
More information about coping after the suicide of a loved one can be found at www.lifeline.org.au and www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Survivors are urged to accept and seek support.