Destructive ripples of suicide
Any suicide is a tragedy, however those left behind by suicide are touched by its destructive ripples. The mourning process for anyone following a "natural" death can be long and requires care. The mourning process for those left behind by a suicide can be terrible and take much longer. 'Death' is a word that is often avoided and many people do not want to talk about it. Yet the act of talking is helpful both for those contemplating suicide and for those left behind.
With a "natural" death the mourning process usually contains guilt for things that are said or done some time in the past. The unconscious may not distinguish between anger with the person while alive, wishing them "away" and actually causing their death. Those left behind by suicide are even more afflicted by guilt. Perhaps this is sometimes the intention (consciously or unconsciously) of the person taking their own life. This inflicted guilt can be crippling and very hard, but not impossible to resolve.
Some people approaching death are able to sort their affairs and put them in order. They are even able to talk about their approaching death and say goodbye to their loved ones. Then afterwards those left behind are able to pick up some threads which will eventually enable them to accept the death of the loved one. Affairs are rarely put in order by the suicide and loved ones unprepared for the financial and day to day tasks. They are dazed and feel lost and alone. Their identity has been changed by their loss and they do not know how to forge themselves a new one. Friends and acquaintances do not know what to say unless they have suffered the same themselves. Some people even feel embarrassed and avoid the whole situation as if it were infectious.
A lot of help is required to heal the damage caused by the destructive ripples of suicide so those suffering from them may repair their lives and build good bridges to those around them and to the world.
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About Joan Benjamin
Association for Group and Individual Psychoanalysis. Member of the Guildford Centre for Psychotherapy. Diploma in Jewish Studies Leo Baeck College in London. Special Interest in C.G.Jung and D.W.Winnicott and Art Therapy. Experience both in business and the arts. Wide variety of clients including those suffering from the suicide of someone close.