Bereavement through suicide

What we feel after we lose someone significant in our lives is often hard to express. What do we say to people we meet after the death has occurred, and how do we say it? We have expectations about how they will react, and they often have expectations about how we should 'be'. It feels easier to cross the road, to not answer the phone, and certainly, we do not feel like calling anyone, even our closest friends.

We find it hard to sleep, to eat, to revisit the place where the death happened, or places which bring back memories of being together. Sometimes we find we can't stop crying and, at other times, we can't cry at all. Sometimes we feel as though it is all our fault and that we caused the death, or we should have been able to 'do' something which might have prevented it.

Sometimes we feel so angry, so angry at the world, at the authorities, at the medical staff, at the person who has died. How could they have left and gone without you? How selfish. Perhaps without telling you. On and on and on.

That is what can happen after any bereavement, and can go on for months or years.


What is it like to grieve for someone who took their own life?

What it is like is all of the above, magnified one hundred-fold. When someone dies because they have been ill, or they have been involved in an accident, we generally know why they died, and we might even have had a chance to speak to them to know how they feel at the moment of death and to say 'goodbye'. Not always, of course, and there are other circumstances where the finality of 'closure' is denied, but we are talking here about choice.

Somebody, maybe somebody we love, somebody we gave life to, somebody who gave life to us or somebody to whom we once committed our life to be with, whether ceremoniously with witnesses, or quietly and privately, has chosen to leave us, permanently. They meant to go.

There is shock at the start, emotional shock, but also possibly the shock and horror of finding the body or witnessing the deed. How do we move away from that? Well, we do, because we have to. We can't stay in that place. Then come the questions. The horror can be supplied by our own imagination if we didn't get to witness what happened, but nothing can supply the answers to those questions and we are left with the unfathomably deep pain.

We might want to retreat into infanthood, to be protected from the world which has turned so sour, and we might try to recreate that universe where we felt safe. Only sometimes, because of how we lived in our childhood, what attachments we were able to make and what early relationships we had, going back into childhood feels worse than if we try to stand against the force of the emotions we are feeling now.

This all without the added stress of inevitable involvement of authorities, the police questioning, the possibility of post mortem examination, the inquest. The burial or cremation still to come, still to organise, after weeks of waiting, and the moment which, for a less traumatic loss, can often can mark the tentative start of a new and different life. Only this cannot happen while there are still questions to be answered, real concerns about the future, especially about young ones and how they are reacting or receiving messages about what choices they can make in times of despair.

Not just worries about a future, but those feelings of now, which remain indescribable. Those thoughts which tumble around your head. Thoughts and feelings which need sharing with somebody you do not know, who is a stranger to you and who will not be triggered into an emotional response to your story. Someone who is professionally trained to know how to listen. A bereavement counsellor will not have the answers but will be there with you as you search, and there as you discover what you might never know.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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