Coping with Grief After Suicide
If you have loved or cared about someone who has died by suicide, you may find your grief intense and overwhelming. Emotions and thoughts after the death of a loved one can be difficult to manage, and sometimes death by suicide can magnify these feelings because we cannot understand all of the reasons as to why they died. The following are some tips which you may find useful if you are feeling overwhelmed by your grief.
- Remember to look after yourself. If you get run down and unwell you may find it even more difficult to cope.
- Remember it is ok to spend some time alone. You may like to think about and remember your loved one, pray or meditate or simply spend time mourning.
- Find someone to talk to who will listen with understanding. If you do not have a friend or family member, consider a counsellor. Sometimes you may just need to talk and you may need someone who wont mind listening to the same stories repeatedly. You aren’t alone, other survivors also feel this need to talk.
- Create a resource list and store it in your mobile or beside your phone. List people and organisations you can call when you need to. By having the list ready to go you are more likely to seek help when you need it rather than be put off by having to try and locate a number.
- Write a list of distractions; something you can do as a time out when your grief and pain overwhelms you. If you have a list of things you enjoy (or used to enjoy) you can focus on choosing an activity when your grief feels too great without having to think too much.
- Read about surviving suicide or collect information so that when you are ready you will have it on hand. This tactic may take some time before you are ready; grief has its own time schedule and yours will be unique to you.
- Try relaxing activities like a massage, yoga, spa day or facial. Although they may feel superficial and you may not feel up to such activities, you may find that your stress reduces a little and your body may feel better.
- A short walk or exercising in the fresh air can help distract you when your mind is going around in circles. Even something as simple as changing your environment, for example getting out of your seat and standing outside for five minutes can break the circle of thoughts going around in your head.
- Keep a memory box and store your treasured mementos and photographs in it. Look at it when you are ready, and add to it as you need to.
- Create a memory book; family and friends can add to your memories by writing funny stories and memories. Reading it may be helpful to you when overwhelmed by grief.
- Try to eat a healthy diet, and if you feel unable to eat try small meals with easily digested food as regularly as you can.
- Stress can create adrenaline, which can add to your tension and grief. Exercise can help you to use up excess adrenaline and may help you when you are feeling overwhelmed by grief.
- Prioritise your day, but do only what is essential. If you write lists which you struggle to get through you will find your own sense of self deteriorates. Get through what you can and don’t be scared to ask for help.
- Using an answering machine can help you to screen calls. Remember you don’t have to talk to everyone, only who you feel up to speaking with.
- Write your feelings down. Write letters to friends and family or even to the loved one you lost. Remember, you don’t have to send them. You may also like to consider writing a journal.
- Spend time outside
- Visit your loved one’s resting place, or a special place where you both enjoyed spending time.
- Store their belongings or go through their belongings. This may be a process you wish to do at a later stage of grief. Remember that you do not need to go through belongings all at once, sometimes one drawer at a time is all that we can manage.
- Plant a tree, shrub or garden in honour of your loved one.
- Seek individual or group counseling.
We are all different in coping with grief
Although we all start on this journey through the death of a loved one, everyone’s journey is different. There is no right or wrong to your grief, and when you are overwhelmed with feeling and emotion it is easy to judge yourself. Take your grief from one minute at a time to an hour at a time through to a day at a time as best you can.
My yoga teacher once said to me, everything will pass, both good and bad. If you can get through the next overwhelming period of grief as best you can then you have achieved something. May you find peace today in your journey.