Coping After a Suicide

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Coping after a suicide is different from other types of bereavement, and can cause many feelings on top of the grief usually felt after a death.

  • The following suggestions may help you cope if you’ve lost a loved one through suicide.
  • Set aside some time each day for grieving so that you can cry, remember the dead person, pray or meditate.
  • Record your feelings, thoughts and memories in a journal. Writing may help you gain some control over intense emotions and so reduce their power.
  • Take care of yourself. When you are able, set aside time for things that you used to enjoy. This is not disloyal and will help you cope with your grief.
  • Exercise should help you feel better emotionally and will make you physically tired so that you sleep better.
  • Meditation, relaxation techniques, massage and listening to music can help reduce the emotional and physical stress of bereavement.
  • Some people find it helps to express their feelings through writing poetry or painting. Other creative activities can also be healing and restorative.
  • Avoid making major decisions, like disposing of the person’s belongings, soon after the death. You may not be thinking clearly and may do things you later regret.
  • Birthdays and the anniversary of the death can be difficult. Talk to other family members and plan in advance how you want to spend the day.
  • You may feel particularly down when the tasks of planning the funeral and sorting out the affairs of the person who died are over. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Alcohol or drugs may provide short-term relief from painful feelings, but they delay grieving and can cause depression and poor health.
  • If you are feeling depressed (which may affect your sleep, appetite and lead to suicidal thoughts), get help from your GP.
  • You may prefer to seek support from people other than friends or family. Help is available from bereavement groups, self-help groups, faith groups and through bereavement counselling.