When death is by suicide, it is a powerful and shocking event with far-reaching impact. Nothing prepares you for the complexity of this loss.
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If you have been bereaved through suicide, you will probably go through the same shock, deep sadness and occasional anger, that is felt by people bereaved in other ways. At the same time, you may also have to cope with extra emotions such as guilt, shame and self blame. You may find yourself plagued by thoughts of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.
By its very nature, suicide is often untimely, unexpected and may be violent. Sometimes a death through suicide comes unexpectedly to those close to the person who has killed themselves. Even if someone has said they plan to kill themselves or has attempted to do so before, the death will still come as a shock and it can be a long time before you can believe it is really true. However the numbness at the beginning, can protect you from feelings which may seem overpowering, and may help you get through the early days when there is too much to cope with.
Suicide raises so many difficult questions and feelings, that grieving can be complicated and it can be hard to look to the future with any optimism. Children and adults can be left wondering if there is something wrong with them, for such a thing to have happened. Confidence can be dented by a sense of failure. For children, a belief in the future is very important. Try to plan small events they can look forward to. Praise and encourage children’s achievements whenever you can, as a way of reinforcing their belief in themselves. A secure, consistent home life with support from good friends will also help towards recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Above all, be kind to yourself and give yourself time. It is hard to cope with any death, but the extra pain associated with a suicide, probably means the healing and recovery will take longer. Letting go and moving forward does not mean forgetting.
Skylight is here to help you navigate this difficult time. We have contract counselling services in Wellington, Porirua, Lower Hutt, Churton Park, Kapiti, Whangarei, Auckland, New Plymouth and Christchurch and a partnership network across Aoteraroa for support in other regions.
Our specialized Resource Centre and library can support you with information, publications, books and Dvds, accessible nationwide free of charge. Please follow the links to contact us for further information and access to the support you and your whanau need.
We invite you to find out about our Waves programme - an evidence-based, well-evaluated programme for people bereaved by suicide at any time in their lives (for 18+ years old) or Travellers - a school based programme promoting resilience and well-being in year 9 students.