Dorset Mind volunteer Annabel Goddard provides an insight into supporting the many complex emotions of suicide bereavement
Trigger warning: this article contains themes of suicide that could be distressing. Please seek support via signposting at the end.
International Survivors of Suicide Day is 19th November – a day which unites those who have lost a loved one to suicide and are navigating bereavement, those who are finding their way after a suicide attempt and those caring for a loved one struggling with suicidal thoughts. It is an important day in the fight to draw attention to those affected by suicide – a topic we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about.
Bereavement is a complex subject – the process is different for different people. Losing a loved one to suicide can bring up so many unanswered questions and feelings. These can include wondering if you could have done more to prevent it or could have stopped it entirely.
You may be more like to have feelings of guilt when grieving a death you feel could have been preventable. While these difficult feelings are best discussed with a professional therapist, it is always important to remember you cannot blame yourself for the actions of another person and it could damage your own mental health.
Take your time
Grieving is an important part of healing and you must allow yourself to take time. It might be weeks, months or even years before you feel back on track. There is no set time-frame, and accepting this could help put you at ease.
However you choose to grieve, make sure you stay in touch with those who care about you. Having a support system is important in helping you to feel less alone and you will be able to open up about what you’re going through.
Both you and others who may also be grieving will benefit from staying connected.
While grief may never go away, it will change and evolve during your life. In the early stages of bereavement it may be very painful and difficult to remember good times you shared with the person you’ve lost. But, in time, you may be able to remember them fondly, and without finding it searingly painful.
If you are supporting someone who is grieving a loved one lost to suicide, the best think you can do is give them time and treat them with patience, kindness and sensitivity.
It can be tough watching the grief of someone you care about, but do make sure you discuss how you are prepared to care for them – ask them what they need, whether that is time and space, or if they perhaps want more company than usual, even if that is just a text to check in every day.
Support for you:
Visit dorsetmind.uk for local mental health support and ways to keep mentally healthy
Call Samaritans on 116 123 for free 24/7 emotional support
Call Dorset’s mental health helpline Connection for support on NHS 111
Call 999 if someone is in immediate danger