The grief process following a suicide loss may be very different from grief experienced with other losses. Grief involves many different layers – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Grief is an active process involving choices. Each person’s process is unique and depends on factors such as personality, relationship to the deceased, personal histories and supports.
Normal Reactions to Suicide Loss
Shock and Numbness
Anger and Blame
Spiritual or Religious Beliefs
Coping Strategies for Living With Suicide Grief
Claim your right to grieve
How To Support Those Living With Suicide Loss
It is important for relatives, friends and the larger community to support people throughout the grief process. The following are some suggestions on how to assist survivors directly.
Respect the timing and pacing of an individual’s grief process. It is a difficult journey. Encourage them to make choices that are right for them.
Offer compassionate listening, understanding and patience. Offer to do some specific tasks or chores.
Reassure survivors what they are feeling is normal.
Find out what supports are available in the community regarding a suicide loss.
Contact the bereaved person on a regular basis.
Research the impact of suicide loss. This will help you provide support to survivors in healthy ways.
Be courageous – approach those that have lost a loved one by suicide. Let them know you heard. Ask them how they really are. This is important even if it has been some time since the actual death.
11 Tenets of Companioning the Bereaved
~Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., C.T., www.centerforloss.com
One: Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking the pain away.
Two: Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.
Three: Companioning is about honouring the spirit; it is not about focusing on the intellect.
Four: Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about analyzing with the head.
Five: Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing these struggles.
Six: Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading or being led.
Seven: Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it is not about filling up every moment with words.
Eight: Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.
Nine: Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.
Ten: Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about teaching them.
Eleven: Companioning is about compassionate curiosity; it is not about expertise.
School Memorials After Suicide: Helpful or Harmful? (p. 1) http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/assets/alert54.pdf
After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Observances. (p. 10) http://www.sprc.org/library/aftersuicide.pdf
School Memorials: Should We? How Should We? (a general look at memorials) http://www.tlcinst.org/memorials.html
Recommendations for a Community Plan/Prevention of Suicide Clusters: CDC (p. 8) http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001755.htm
Suicide Contagion and the Reporting of Suicide: Recommendations from a National Workshop (p. 5) http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00031539.htm
Programs for the Prevention of Suicide Among Adolescents and Young Adults
Suicide Contagion and the Reporting of Suicide: Recommendations from a National Workshop (p. 18) http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr4306.pdf
Making Meaning of the Madness: One Man’s Journey Through Grief, Dan Lundine, Healing
Your Grieving Body, Alan D. Wolfelt and Kirby J. Duvall
The Wilderness of Grief: Finding Your Way, Alan D. Wolfelt
Understanding Your Suicide Grief, Alan D. Wolfelt
Healing a Friends Grieving Heart, Alan D. Wolfelt
Finding the Words, Alan D. Wolfelt
The Understanding Your Suicide Grief Journal, Alan D. Wolfelt
The Understanding Your Suicide Grief Support Group Guide, Alan D. Wolfelt
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