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Suicide Loss

Death touches all of our lives sooner or later, but suicide loss can be especially difficult to cope with. The person you have lost seems to have chosen death, and that simple fact makes a world of difference for those left to grieve.

You face all the same emotions as anyone who mourns a death, but you may also face a somewhat unique set of painful feelings on top of your grief. Your grief might be heart wrenching. At the same time, you might be consumed by guilt, wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one's death. Society still attaches a stigma to suicide, and it is largely misunderstood. While mourners usually receive sympathy and compassion, you may feel that you are encountering blame, judgment, or exclusion.

Self-Care while grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide

Take care of your health. Grief can be hard on your physical health. It can help to exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, and try to get enough sleep.
Take time to adjust.  Losing someone to suicide is a tremendous blow, and healing must occur at its own pace. Do not be hurried by anyone else's expectations that you should be done grieving.

Write yourself a script. Suicide loss survivors often find themselves faced with uncomfortable questions. It will help if you can anticipate some of these and write yourself a “script” of answers that you can mentally keep at the ready. For example, when someone probes for details of the suicide that you are not comfortable discussing with them, you might simply say “I do not want to talk about it right now.” 

Reach out to others. There are many people in your community who have been impacted by loss of a loved one to suicide. It may help to talk to other individuals who understand. Your loved one’s life was extremely important, and touched the lives of many.

Rely on your support system. Let family and friends know when you want to talk about your loss. When possible, accept their offers of help and company. Rely on friends and family who listen without judgment.

See your doctor. Keep up with visits to your healthcare provider. Let your healthcare provider know if you are having trouble taking care of your everyday activities, like getting dressed or fixing meals.

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