Losing a loved one is never an easy experience. However, when we lose a loved one to suicide, there is another set of questions that arise and with them comes an influx of complicated emotions. How do we find peace after a loss knowing that our loved one struggled so deeply that they felt suicide was the only option left? How do we process that loss knowing there are so many questions that will never be answered? It certainly is a tough swath of emotions to process but finding peace and acceptance after losing a loved one to suicide is possible.
Understand Intense Emotions Will Follow
In the wake of a suicide, it is important to know that an intense mix of emotions will be triggered and that there is no shortcut for grief. You are likely to feel shocked and disbelief that such a terrible thing could happen to someone you love. You will also feel a mix of anger and guilt. Anger that your loved one abandoned you and guilty that you never saw it coming. Could you have helped them? Should you have seen it coming? These are all questions and intense emotions that you will need to grapple with. Another emotion that will hit you is confusion. You will try to make sense of the loss and try to understand why they took their life and the inability to find answers to this can really cause you to struggle through the grieving process.
Dealing with the Stigma
Something else that you should be prepared to deal with is the stigma that surrounds suicide. People often struggle discussing suicide and this can leave you feeling isolated. If the support you need simply is not there, it can make the grieving process even more difficult. In the religions that limit ceremonies for those who committed suicide, you might also feel slighted and unable to find closure if your loved one is denied the normal rites and rituals.
Seek Professional Help if Necessary
It’s no secret that suicide brings up a mix of emotions and feelings that we are not accustomed to dealing with. Sometimes, it can create the perfect storm. A swarm of guilt, grief, and anger mixed with isolation and the inability to talk about the loss due to the stigma surrounding suicide can leave you struggling. That is why seeking the help of a medical professional is often wise. If you are experiencing intense emotions or are seeing prolonged shifts in your mood or behavior, you may want to speak to your doctor or a medical health professional. They will be able to help you work through your emotions and feelings of grief and guilt.
Turn to Healthy Coping Strategies
After someone you love commits suicide, you will face physical and emotional exhaustion due to the overwhelming mix of feelings. It is extremely important to adopt healthy coping skills so that you don’t fall into bad habits. One of those coping skills is to stay in touch with your loved ones, friends, family, and even spiritual leaders. These people will be a constant source of support and comfort during your struggles, which is so important when you are coping with a loss after a suicide.
You should also keep in mind that grief is an individual process. Everyone experiences it differently and thus everyone grieves in their own way. There is no “right” way to grieve, so as long as it is not harmful to you or anyone else, grieve in the manner that makes you feel best. Whether that is turning to exercise, visiting your loved one’s grave, or waiting until you’re ready to talk, whatever works best for you is okay.
Another way to cope after a loss is to establish a memorial or find a way to honor the life that they lived. Planting something like a memorial tree can be cathartic or purchasing some memorial windchimes can help you find a bit of peace and comfort as well. While this by no means will answer all of the questions swirling in your mind or ease your guilt, it can help you find some peace amidst the turmoil.
Setbacks should also be expected. Painful reminders of the loss will occur on anniversaries, holidays, and even normal days where memories are sparked. It’s okay to have some setbacks because healing does not occur in a straight line on a set timeline.