Losing someone you deeply care about to suicide can be painful and have devastating effects. The grief experienced by family members and friends can be more complicated, especially when the cause of death is suicide. The intensity of grief may rise and sometimes fall, allowing a person to have small periods of relief from the emotional trauma.
In this blog post, we will talk about how death by suicide can affect the surviving family members and other relatives and friends.
Grief should not be seen as a poor coping mechanism. Rather, it is a healthy way of dealing with loss and coming to terms with reality. Coupled with the empowering feelings of grief, family members and friends also feel confused, angry, and guilty when they lose someone to suicide.
Here are some of the initial feelings that a person feels:
- Regret about things you did or did not do while the person was alive.
- Shame, guilt, failure, and regret that you did not prevent the suicide
- Tension headaches
- Sleeping, increased tiredness or insomnia
- Change in appetite
- Difficulty with everyday routines
- Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
- Feelings of depression, sadness, loneliness, and tearfulness
- Isolation and emotional withdrawal from others
- Strong feelings of anger or confusion
- Shock, numbness, and disbelief that there was no chance to say goodbye
How to Deal with Negative Emotions
After witnessing a suicide, people may express negative emotions towards other family members and friends. For example, some people may not understand how to respond because they consider suicide as unacceptable social behavior, while others may avoid speaking on the issue out of guilt and embarrassment. This may lead many people to believe that a person ended their life because they couldn’t deal with their problems instead of facing them.
Overcoming Guilt after Suicide
When you lose someone you love to suicide, it is natural to feel guilty. You can’t help but have thoughts like ‘I should have done something,’ ‘maybe if I had been more aware, it would not have happened,’ or ‘if only I had paid more attention.’ You may blame yourself and feel that you should have picked up on the warning signs. This may also impact your mood and functionality. It is important to seek professional help immediately after to avoid further repercussions. Talk to a close friend or family member also helps to subside feelings of guilt and feel better.
Feelings of Relief
Some family members may find relief knowing that whatever the cause of stress for their loved one was is now over. If the person who died by suicide was not mentally sound, family members can find relief by understanding that it must have been too much for them to handle. Taking their own life is what set them free from the entire emotional burden. Although this may not be a satisfying relief, it does provide some form of condolence to the surviving family.