Coping With the Grief of Losing a Loved One to Suicide

Losing someone you love to suicide is an incredibly painful and traumatic experience.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Jul 26, 2023
10 min read
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The grief that follows can feel overwhelming and isolating. If you’ve lost a family member, friend or loved one to suicide, please know that help and support are available. You don’t have to walk this difficult path alone.

In this blog we will help you to come to terms with the often complicated grief that can arise when you’ve lost a loved person who died by suicide.

Understanding Suicide Grief

The grief that accompanies losing someone to suicide is often complex and intense. In addition to the typical emotions of grief like sadness, anger and loneliness, suicide loss survivors also often grapple with difficult feelings like guilt, confusion, shame and rejection.

You may replay the events over and over in your mind, caught up in a loop of “what ifs” and regret. You may have unanswered questions about why your loved one chose to end their life. The stigma surrounding suicide can also make it harder to openly discuss your loss with others. All of this can leave suicide loss survivors feeling deeply isolated in their grief.

Seeking Support Is Crucial

While the grief process takes time and patience, it’s important to actively seek support. Isolation only tends to make the grief more consuming and overwhelming. Having loved ones, friends or a support group to turn to can help you process the turbulent emotions, share memories and begin healing. Consider:

Talking to close family and friends

Even if it’s difficult, try opening up to your personal support system. They care about you and having someone to listen without judgement can lessen the heavy burden.

Joining a suicide grief support group

Connecting with others who have experienced a similar loss can reduce the feelings of isolation. Local support groups provide a judgement-free space to share stories and helpful resources.

Seeking professional help

A mental health professional, like a therapist who specializes in grief counseling, can help you work through your loss in a healthy way. They can provide tools to cope with emotions like guilt and anger.

Taking care of your mental and physical health

Self-care is crucial when grieving. Make sure to eat well, exercise, get quality sleep and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. Stay connected to your support networks.

Ways to Honor Your Loved One

As you move forward in the grieving process, you may want to find meaningful ways to honor your loved one and the impact they made on your life. This can be an important part of healing. You may choose to:

  • Create a memory book, photo album or digital memorial that celebrates their life and your shared memories. This can be therapeutic to make and share with other loved ones.
  • Establish a scholarship fund or donate to a cause your loved one was passionate about. Giving back in their name creates a lasting legacy.
  • Hold a memorial service with close family and friends to share stories, look at photos, listen to favorite songs and process emotions together.
  • Write letters to your loved one expressing how much you miss them, how their life impacted you, and the complex emotions their death has brought up.
  • Plant a tree, visit a meaningful place or get a tattoo to commemorate your loved one. Having a living memorial can be comforting.

Be Gentle With Your Grief

Losing someone to suicide is a traumatic loss that takes time to heal from. Be patient and gentle with yourself throughout the grieving process. On difficult days, remind yourself that the intense emotions will come in waves – you just need to ride them out utilizing your support systems.

Over time, the pain will ease and room will open up for more happy memories. Your loved one lives on in the gifts and love they brought you. With support, care and work, you can begin to make sense of your loss and eventually move forward while keeping their spirit with you.

Find Grief Support with Grief Works by Illume

Getting support when grieving is essential. It can be challenging, but you don’t have to worry!

The Grief Works app helps you overcome grief and connect with a community that cares for you. It also offers live monthly calls and the ability to chat with a therapist when needed.

Moreover, it has a built-in journal book for your daily diary and the Grief Works Curriculum to guide you in your healing journey.