How to face grief by suicide
The word mourning not only refers to pain for the death of a loved one , but also to a situation of loss such as a divorce, a dismissal or the loss of a body member after an accident. Pain is a universal experience that all human beings go through in different moments and situations.
Grief over the death of a loved one is never easy. In the case of grief due to suicide, the pain becomes even more intense because it is linked to feelings of guilt and impotence. The intentional death of a loved one leaves family and friends very confused and with a high degree of anguish .
Suicide is marked by stigma. Many people see it as shameful or sinful, others see it as "a choice" and blame the family. Many times they do not know how to support the survivors and simply avoid the situation through ignorance. Whatever the reason, it is important to keep in mind that suicide and the underlying pain are complex processes.
When a person commits suicide, direct family members who live with the person, the rest of the family, neighbors, friends, classmates and / or work colleagues are directly affected.
- Related article: "The 9 myths and false topics about suicide"
How to overcome grief by suicide: initial reflections
Through the testimonies of those who have tried to commit suicide, we know that the main objective of a suicide is not to end life , but with suffering.
People with suicidal ideation are fighting an emotional agony that makes life unacceptable. Most people who die by suicide have a depression that reduces their ability to solve problems.
Why is grief more difficult to overcome?
The elaboration of mourning implies a series of processes that, beginning with the loss, end with the acceptance of reality, the reorientation of mental activity and the recomposition of the internal world.
The relatives and friends of people who have died by suicide, are prone to feel a great disconsolation and daze. They often ask themselves: "Why did this happen? How did I not see it coming? "They feel an overwhelming guilt about what they should have done more or less. They have recurring thoughts that assail them almost daily. They often feel guilt, as if they were somehow responsible.
Many also experience anger and anger towards their loved one by abandonment or rejection, or disappointment in thinking that they were not loved enough to maintain their desire to live.
These erroneous assumptions can last a long time if they are not dealt with properly. Many struggle for years trying to find answers or understand an event that in many cases is incomprehensible.
On the other hand, society still exerts a harmful role by creating a stigma around death by suicide which makes the survivors feel excluded. Survivors of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age or other types of death often receive sympathy and compassion. A family member is never blamed for cancer or Alzheimer's, but society continues to cast a shadow over suicide.
- Related article: "The 26 types of suicide (according to different criteria)"
The role of memories
Another factor that makes the duel by suicide different, are the memories. When a loved one is lost due to illness or accident, we keep happy memories. We can think of our loved one and share stories with nostalgia. However, this is not usually the case for the suicide survivor. You come up with thoughts like, "Maybe I was not happy when I took this picture of you?" "Why did not I see your emotional pain when we were on vacation?"
Survivors of suicide loss not only experience these aspects of complicated grief, but also are prone to develop symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder . The indescribable sadness about suicide becomes a never ending circle of bewilderment, pain, retrospective scenes and a need to numb anguish.
Ways to help a survivor of suicide loss
If you know someone who has lost a loved one by suicide, there are many things you can do. In addition to accompanying you in your grief you can help you get rid of the stigma created by society.
1. Ask if you can help and how
In case you are not willing to accept help, with this gesture you show that you are there accessible to them . Avoid distancing so you know you can talk to you when you need it.
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2. Be patient
Do not set a time limit for the survivor's penalty. The complicated duel can take years. Encourage her to share stories and express her thoughts . Repetition can be a key factor in recovery.
Be a compassionate listener . The best gift you can give to a loved one who has survived a suicide loss is your time, peace and affection.
He assumes that they need to express their feelings, sometimes with silence and sometimes with sadness or anger. Do not be afraid to talk about suicide . You can express your feelings of sadness and name the person you love. Those who have lost someone by suicide feel great pain, and really need your empathy, compassion and understanding
Ways to help yourself if you have suffered a loss by suicide
It can be very painful, but you have to learn to take reality and understand that you are not responsible for the suicide of your loved one .
1. Do not put limits on pain
The period of mourning takes time. You need to go through the different phases until you accept reality.
2. Plan the future
When you're ready, organize the days of family celebrations with your family's help , birthdays and Christmas. Understand that these moments will be lived with sadness and seek bonds of support and reinforcement to minimize the reactions of intense sadness.
3. Make connections
Consider joining a support group designed specifically for survivors of suicide loss. The environment can provide a healing environment and of mutual support.
4. Seek professional help if you need it
Remember that you are going through one of the most difficult and painful situations in life and you may need therapy to not unnecessarily lengthen the phases of grief.
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1997) The Wheel of Life
- Feigelman, W., Gorman, B.S. & Jordan, J.R. (2009). Stigmatization and suicide bereavement. Death Studies, 33 (7): 591-608.
- Jordan, J. (2001). Is suicide bereavement different? A reassessment of the literature. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 31: 91-102.