An Unimaginable and Unbearable Loss


How Grief After Suicide Can Affect You Differently


The impact of losing a family member or loved one to suicide is something that leaves an profound pain and an eternal and devasting absence in your life.

It is different to the loss and grief of loved ones passing away from illness or in other ways that occur from external circumstances.   I do not in any way mean to minimise the pain and loss associated with these deaths;  I believe that the grieving process can become more complicated and lasts longer than other types of bereavement – significant effects may still be felt for many years after the death.

However, the act of suicide can leave those whom are left behind with many overwhelming, unbearably painful feelings and unanswered questions that can leave survivors of suicide feeling that their life has been left in a permanent state of ruin. Distressing thoughts and emotions can leave anyone trying to come to terms with this loss in a state of utter turmoil.

This is normal.

The process of trying to make sense and meaning of any loss is so hard, and with suicide, there is another dimension to make sense of . This meaning-making process may lead to intense guilt ridden feelings and self-blaming thoughts of how you may have prevented this from happening, what you could have done differently, or whether you may have missed any signs that this was going to happen.

The tragic truth is, that there is nothing that anyone could have done to change the outcome once the decision had been made.  It’s most likely that you may find yourself going over and over what happened and thinking what you could have done differently.  If only I had etc….. this is completely understandable.

Acceptance of this as impossible as it feels, is part of the healing process.
We all have different ways of coping with the loss and grief of losing a loved one and we all respond differently to each loss that we face in life. As individuals, we all have a unique relationship with each individual we meet in life and our response to losing a loved one to suicide is unique and specific.

However there are many common reactions and factors in bereavements by suicide.  Aspects of the experience of bereavement by suicide which make it different can include:

• Circumstances of the loss
• Emotional and physical reactions
• Post traumatic stress (please refer to article)
• The survivors questions – “why?” and “what could I have done
• Stigma and isolation
• Family and community tensions
• Other prejudices
• Lack of privacy
• Investigations
• Practical concerns

Aspects taken from Survivors of Suicide website:    National Helpline 0300 111 5065

Grief Counselling After Suicide – How Counselling Can Help

It is not the ones who passed who need help but it the ones who are left behind that need it;  Sadly the pain is passed on to those who are left and this is where counselling can help.  It allows a space where intense feelings can be untangled and made sense of and time to grieve your loss.

If this has affected you or someone you may know and you feel that you may benefit from talking about and working through the painful feelings that you are facing with this tragic loss, I can help you.