There is nothing more tragic than mourning the loved one of someone who has taken his or her life. And every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide globally (World Health Organization), which leaves thousands upon thousands of family and friends in mourning. The observance began in 1999 when Senator Harry Reid, a loss survivor himself, introduced a resolution to designate the Saturday before Thanksgiving National Survivors of Suicide Day – a day designated by the United States Congress where friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support.
There is no such thing as easy – but things tend to get harder during the holidays. If you or someone you know has lost someone to suicide, here are some things that might help you cope during this difficult time of year.
1) Tell yourself over and over ‘it’s not my fault’ – Bewilderment, confusion and even a sense of guilt can come about when one has faced the incidental death of a loved one. Remember, they weren’t trying to necessarily end their life, but their pain. And that’s something no on is responsible for but the disease of depression itself.
2) Don’t put a limit on your grief – Grief may come in ways. One day you think you’re fine, and the next you may go down a deep rabbit hole. Don’t get down on yourself – it’s OK, and it’s normal. Grieve in your own way, in your own pace. Seek help when you can.
3) Plan ahead – For holidays, birthdays, etc., see if you can get the family together to celebrate that person’s life. Gathering with community and family helps you process together – and may help you feel less alone.
4) Make connections – You don’t need to do this alone. Make connections with other survivors of suicide loss. Get a therapist, or join a grieving community. When you come together in community, you can feel heard and supported during these difficult times.
If you know someone who is a survivor of suicide loss:
1) Don’t be afraid to acknowledge death – extend your condolences and express your feelings of sorrow. Chances are that person is thinking about it all the time anyway, and they’ll feel acknowledged when you acknowledge them.
2) Ask survivor if and how you can help – They may or may not be ready to accept help, but asking signifies you are there and you care – don’t assume everyone else is asking. The worst they can say is no.
3) Be patient and encourage openness – don’t set a limit to the survivor’s grief – there is no timeline. If the survivor needs to share stories of that person over and over again- let them. This is their way of processing grief.
4) Listen – Be a compassionate listener. DO NOT TRY TO FIX ANYTHING! You’re there to listen, not try to give them unsolicited advice unless they ask. (Psychology Today)
We hope you find some solace during this time of year, and we hope you extend a compassionate hand to those who are going through a rough time.
Thank you in advance for reading, commenting and sharing with love, compassion and kindness. You help make our cozy corner of the world wide web an awesome place!
Sending love, healing, and self care,
The Self Care Club Team