Surviving the loss of a loved one, who took their own life through suicide, has a number of complexities that the natural death of a loved one, may not necessarily have. Some, or all, of the following responses are common:
- Fixating on the imagined, or known, image of the suicide
- Replaying old conversations in the mind, as if to seek evidence for, or to apportion blame for, the suicide
- Getting stuck on ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ thoughts
- Fear that you, or anyone related to the deceased, may ‘end up’ coming to the same end
- Questioning anything and everything
- Getting stuck on trying to rationalise the irrational; which is not possible
- Creating ‘a story’ or seeking to interpret the reason for the suicide, in the absence of a suicide note or message
- Getting stuck in imagining being the deceased in their last moments
- Overwhelming grief
- Inability to explain to others
- Inability to cope with usual, day to day life
- A heightened desire for alcohol/drugs
- A need to self-harm
- Isolation / Aloneness / Lonely
- Feeling abandoned
- Sleeping Problems
- Difficulty finding words to express thoughts, feelings and emotions
- Unable to form a sense of what to think or feel
- Stuck in limbo
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- A physical symptom, or symptoms, related to the underlying emotional impact of what has happened
These are but very few of the many varied individual responses that one can feel when a loved one has taken their own life. More often than not, there will be a combination of responses; some happening in some form of sequence and others happening randomly and often concurrently.
It is so very important to speak with someone; whether that be a professional, such as a Counsellor or Psychotherapist, who is qualified to help you through this difficult time, or whether that is a friend, colleague or family member. It is common for the loss of a loved one, through suicide, to trigger a depressive response in those close to them. Sometimes, friends, neighbours and even loved ones may step back from you, for they may also not know how best to help or respond; which is when seeing a professional can be a very helpful source of support.
Help is available, if you have lost a loved one to suicide. Contact your GP or Samaritans for access to local support or seek a local Counsellor or Psychotherapist. Do speak with at least one close friend or family member, to make them aware that you are struggling.
I will write more on this subject, in due course.
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