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Coping

WHAT IF I LOSE SOMEONE TO A SUICIDE?

Individuals experience grief uniquely and at their own pace. For some, the experience of grief following a loss can be intense, complex, and long term, while others are able to more readily 'move on'. The grieving process varies from individual to the next because of many factors: having coped with prior losses; the quality of the relationship with the deceased; the availability of a support system, and so on. What is certain is that the lives of the survivors will be different. At first, and periodically during the next days and months following the loss, survivors may feel an array of sometimes overwhelming emotions. The expression of varying emotions, sometimes accompanied by tears, is a natural part of grieving. Common feelings experienced during grieving include: abandonment, depression, hopelessness, sadness, anger, despair, loneliness, self-blame, anxiety, disbelief, numbness, shame, confusion, guilt, pain, shock, denial, helplessness, rejection, and, of course, general life stress.

WITH SO MANY FEELINGS TO MANAGE, HOW CAN I COPE?

  1. Take things one day at a time.
  2. Know you can survive; you may not think so, but you can.
  3. Consider getting professional help.
  4. It is okay to not understand "why" it happened; suicide may be difficult to understand and we often are left with unanswered questions.
  5. Know you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but that all your feelings are normal.
  6. Contact a support group or organization for survivors such as TAPS. TAPS is the 24/7 tragedy assistance resource for anyone who has suffered the loss of a military loved one. Their toll-free hotline number is 1-800-959-TAPS (8277).
  7. Find a good listener with whom to share. Call someone if you need to talk.
  8. Don't be afraid to cry. Tears are healing.
  9. Give yourself time to heal.
  10. Remember, the choice was not yours. No one is the sole influence on another's life.
  11. Expect setbacks. If emotions return like a tidal wave, you may only be experiencing a remnant of grief, an unfinished piece.
  12. If possible, delay major decisions.
  13. Be aware of the pain your family and friends may be feeling too. Talking about the person and grieving together can be healing.
  14. Be patient with yourself and others who may not understand.
  15. Set limits and learn to say no.
  16. Avoid people who want to tell you what or how to feel.
  17. Call on your personal faith to help you through.
  18. It is common to experience physical reaction to your grief, e.g. headaches, loss of appetite, inability to sleep.
  19. It is okay to laugh; it may even be healing.
  20. Accept your questions, anger, guilt or other feelings until you can let them go.
  21. Letting go doesn't mean forgetting.
  22. Know that you will never be the same again, but that you can survive and even go beyond just surviving.