If someone close to you has taken his or her life – whether this is a relative, friend, partner, or colleague – or if you’ve witnessed a suicide, then this is going to be an incredibly tough time for you. You don’t need to pretend that it’s ok. It’s not ok. Get whatever help you need to get through this time.
Information and support can be found here, Help is at Hand published by Public Health England, and hard copies can be obtained from [email protected] (please supply an address). This booklet contains not just practical advice but also links and phone numbers to help you navigate the coroner’s courts, funerals, supporting the children etc during this difficult time, as well as helpline numbers if you just need someone to talk to. You can also find these resources at the Support after Suicide Partnership.
If you are supporting a friend or family member who has been affected by suicide, it can be hard to find the words. There is a great resource, Finding the Words, which can help guide you through talking and listening in this situation.
What to expect
A suicide is likely to have a huge impact, not just upon immediate family, but also on best friends, ex partners, colleagues at work, and even the person who sold them a newspaper or a coffee every day. So, no matter what your relationship, understand that this can be extraordinarily difficult to deal with.
You may find a particular incident or memory or contact with that person continues to play on your mind. You might find yourself replaying finding the body. You might be struggling to think about how to tell children or teenagers about the death. You might be trying hard just to live in the same house where they died. You might think that you are literally losing your mind, feel cut off from reality, unable to deal with day to day life. There is help out there, so please get it. Go through the resources and links above – and don’t be afraid to go to your GP.
Remember there is no right or ‘proper’ way to grieve, and everyone’s got different ways of dealing with their feelings, and this in itself can cause problems. There may be guilt and remorse, shock and anger, denial, disbelief and a burning need to understand why this has happened. Sometimes people get angry, with a specific person, with the world in general, or with the person who’s died. People can feel anxious about how they’re going to cope, have problems sleeping, find that they lose their appetite, feel tired all the time, or feel really down and lonely. While these are normal things to feel when someone dies, it can feel very hard to simply get through each day.
Take whatever help you can to get through each day, and use the resources described above.
Coming to terms with someone dying doesn’t mean we forget that person, or that they stop being important to us. It’s alright to be upset; it’s normal, and there’s no shame in showing our emotions. There’s no time limit on grief, so don’t rush yourself or let others rush you.