Pink and White Cherry Blossoms in spring Photo close up
Pink and White Cherry Blossoms in spring, My Forever Son

And can it be in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up.

Charles Dickens

If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies

The aftermath of a loved one’s suicide can be physically and emotionally exhausting. As you work through your grief, be careful to protect your own well-being.

Mayo Clinic, Suicide Grief

The tips below from the Mayo Clinic are some of the best grief suggestions I’ve found. Suicide Grief is unique and complicated, and losing a child to suicide is overwhelming. The stigma surrounding suicide can keep others from reaching out. Know when to seek professional help, and find groups and organizations that can help.

Healthy Coping Strategies

Keep in touch. Reach out to loved ones, friends and spiritual leaders for comfort, understanding and healing. Surround yourself with people who are willing to listen when you need to talk, as well as those who’ll simply offer a shoulder to lean on when you’d rather be silent.

Grieve in your own way. Do what’s right for you, not necessarily someone else. There is no single “right” way to grieve. If you find it too painful to visit your loved one’s gravesite or share the details of your loved one’s death, wait until you’re ready.

Be prepared for painful reminders. Anniversaries, holidays and other special occasions can be painful reminders of your loved one’s suicide. Don’t chide yourself for being sad or mournful. Instead, consider changing or suspending family traditions that are too painful to continue.

Don’t rush yourself. Losing someone to suicide is a tremendous blow, and healing must occur at its own pace. Don’t be hurried by anyone else’s expectations that it’s been “long enough.”

Expect setbacks. Some days will be better than others, even years after the suicide — and that’s OK. Healing doesn’t often happen in a straight line.

Consider a support group for families affected by suicide. Sharing your story with others who are experiencing the same type of grief might help you find a sense of purpose or strength. However, if you find going to these groups keeps you ruminating on your loved one’s death, seek out other methods of support.”

Mayo Clinic, “Suicide Grief”

Expect Intense Emotions

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Despair
  • Confusion
  • Sadness

From My Own Experience

Talk about your loss. Grief unfolds over time. Find others (friends, family, professionals) with whom to share about your loss.

Grieving is a process. Keep it simple. Remember to breathe. If you’ve lost a child, then you know how difficult it can be to remember this.

Follow your feelings. Shock, sadness, intense longing, guilt, numbness, anger–these are all part of the process of grieving.

Write letters. To the child you lost. To yourself. Journal.

Grief can be exhausting. Take time to grieve.

Your grief is not a burden. It is an expected reaction to loss.
We grieve because we experience love and connection. No need to apologize for your grief or your changing emotions in response to  losing your loved one to suicide.

It’s okay to say their name, even if others can’t right now.
Say their name, even if you are the only one that can in the moment.  Doing so also helps others to know that it’s okay to talk about the person who has died by suicide, and that you want to do that. Sharing stories and memories can be healing.

There are resources out there to support you in your grief. There is a community of suicide loss survivors who want to support you as you grieve. For more loss resources visit afsp.org/loss.

Doreen Marshall, AFSP, “Grieving a Suicide Loss: 8 Things I Know for Sure”

Good Grief Tips

Take care of yourself. You have been wounded. Something very valuable and dear has been taken away from you. Give yourself time and space to begin healing. Get enough rest. Eat nourishing food. Give yourself a break.

Consider seeking out other grievers. Someone who has also been through grief can empathize with you, and vice versa. Organizations like The Compassionate Friends recognize the value of sharing in a group setting. Don’t feel obligated to join groups if they are not for you. The grief process is highly individual. Some people prefer solitude or reflection rather than group work. Do what feels right for you.

Mark D. Miller, MD, Good Grief

Grief is work, requiring time and energy. The memories, meanings and
fulfilled needs provided by the lost loved one take time to work through.

Let yourself enter the emotions of grief. Grievers tend naturally to
avoid the painful emotions. Losing someone close to you means you deserve to allow yourself to feel all your emotions – sadness, anger, i ntense longing, guiltand others.

Consider writing your loved one a letter. Say what you would tell them
as if it were your last chance. Even if you never share the letter with anyone, writing it may help you work through your grief.

Resume your life but leave time and space for grieving. Life marches on for the living. But try to resist the temptation to “throw yourself” into work or other diversions. This leaves too little time for the grief work you need to do for yourself.

Take care of yourself. You have been wounded. Something very valuable and dear has been taken away from you. Give yourself time and space to begin healing. Get enough rest. Eat nourishing food. Give yourself a break.

Resist the temptation to use alcohol or drugs to numb your pain. These can interfere with the grieving process by delaying it or covering it up.

If you have any religious inclination, consider contacting your place of worship. All religions recognize that grievers need special help. Consider taking advantage of these services even if you have not been attending regularly.

20 Tips for Grief and Loss,” Good Grief Center, Dr. Mark D. Miller

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By Beth Brown

Rememberer of dreams. Whisperer of gardens green.
At the whim of "Most Beloved" and a hot cup of tea.
I live life between, straddled here now and then,
My continuity through writing--
Pen dripping ink, mind swirling confused,
Love lingering still, and Most Beloved's purring soothes.

Blogger at "Gardens at Effingham" (where cats do the talking) and "My Forever Son" (where a mother's heart runs deep after losing her son to suicide)
Musician. Writer. Literary Connoisseur.
At the whim of a calico cat and a strong cup of tea.

One reply on “Grieving the Suicide Loss of a Child: Helpful Grief Tips”

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