Survivor Support

Losing a loved one is one of the most distressing experiences people face. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement have a period of sorrow, numbness, and even guilt and anger. Gradually these feelings ease, and it's possible to accept loss and move forward.

For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and don't improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief where painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and adjusting to the world that has been changed by the suicide.

Different people follow different paths through the grieving experience. Grief is a unique and individual experience. The order and timing of these phases may vary from person to person. Some of the milestones in grief are:

  • Accepting the reality of your loss
  • Allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss
  • Adjusting to a new reality in which the deceased is no longer present
  • Having other relationships
Suicide Survivor Support

Common Reactions After Suicide Loss

  • Shock, disbelief, and numbness
  • A strong need to find answers to the “Why did they do this?” question
  • An equally strong need to answer the “Whose fault is this?” question, including a tendency by many survivors to blame themselves
  • Wondering “What did I miss?” and “Could this have been prevented?”
  • Disruption of biorhythms (sleep, appetite, bowel functioning, etc.)
  • Shame and embarrassment
  • Withdrawal from other people
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything but the loss
  • Trauma symptoms - “flashbacks” to the death scene, nightmares, avoidance of any triggers that remind the survivor of the death
  • Irritability and anger about the suicide, including self-blame and blame of others
  • Difficulty carrying out normal functions at work or home
  • Relief - usually only present when living with the deceased was frustrating or worrisome
  • Feelings of failure - to foresee the suicide or to prevent it from happening
  • Hypervigilance - anxiety about losing someone else suicide, or another sudden or violent cause of death

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