Lost to Suicide


A suicide survivor, or a suicide griever, is a person who has lost someone close to them to suicide. A person never "gets over" this kind of loss, but they can get through it with the support of others, especially others who have traveled down that painful path.  

You may experience a range of feelings including shock, numbness, guilt, anger, confusion, denial and sadness.  There is often stigma attached to suicide, so at times grievers will unfortunately encounter insensitive people who may look to blame, judge or avoid you. Often friends don't know what to say, so they  may say something very hurtful. Unfortunately, you may find in your pain that the support and care from old friends may be hard to find. That is why it is so important that you find a support group for survivors... a good counselor...a good friend to talk to... look for someone who is patient and can just listen and be with you.  You might find it helpful to call a hot line number, connect with a web site that offers validation, or reading books by others  who have gone through the similar circumstances. A helpful site is www.afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).  

Self care at this time is extremely important. Taking time to rest (sleep may be hard to come by), cry, exercise, drink water, eat healthy foods (although you may have lost your appetite) take grief breaks, watch light TV (avoid the news), spend time with supportive people... be with those who give you strength, those who can be quiet and listen and it's best to avoid the toxic people while you are grieving.  Ask a friend to help you with things that you might find  temporarily difficult, like grocery shopping, cooking or laundry. 

Survivors often have a hard time finding meaning in the loss. They try to find reasons why. They wonder if something could have been done to prevent what happened.  Often survivors have higher levels of guilt and blame and take on the responsibility of the loss. Many may worry if they had some part in the death. Feelings of rejection, abandonment and anger may be intense. There are many unsolved questions that may never have resolution.

You may find it helpful to plan what to say to others. So often survivors are faced with questions that are uncomfortable from outsiders. Having a plan as to  what to say to others, will help you feel more prepared and in control. If someone asks details, it's perfectly fine to say, "I don't really want to talk about it now".  If someone who doesn't know asks how they died it is fine to say, "she took her life" or "she died by suicide". Some will say, "he suffered from a long illness" which is the truth for so many who suffered with depression for a long time.







In their return to Saddleback Church after the death of their son, Pastor Rick and Kay share the very personal story of Matthew and his battle with mental illness.