In his highly regarded book Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide, Gary Roe addresses the subject of confusion following the death of a loved one – a state of confusion that can be profound and even debilitation. Roe writes:
When death invades, confusion is a natural result. Our lives have been struck. Our hearts feel attacked. Our minds question and spin. Our emotions bounce all over the place.
We’re shocked, stunned, confused. Our broken hearts reel with pain. Our minds grapple with reality we don’t want to accept. It’s all too much. Overwhelmed becomes our daily existence.
Pay particular attention to Roe’s statement that we don’t want to accept reality. In a moment we will discuss how this element of confusion stemming from the death of a loved one – including (or particularly) the death of a loved one by suicide – impacts our ability to grieve in a healthy and ultimately productive manner.
Impact of Suicide Death Related Confusion on the Grief Process
Grieving the death by suicide of a loved one can prove to be challenging. The grieving process becomes even more daunting when a person experienced suicide death related confusion.
The five commonly acknowledged stages of grief are:
Confusion renders it nearly impossible or actually impossible to accept reality. In order to work through the denial stage of grief, there has to be an acceptance of the reality of the situation.
Dealing With Confusion – The Air Method
In Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide, Gary Roe has set forth what he calls the AIR method to deal with or address certain issues stemming from the loss of a loved one as the result of a death by suicide. Roe suggests that many individuals are able to process and resolve confusion associated with a loved one’s suicide death by using the AIR method.
Roe suggests the following:
Acknowledge confusion: “I feel confused.”
Identify confusion: “I am feeling confused about [insert specific point of confusion]
Release confusion: “I release this confusion.”
Roe does make note that even if a person is able to surmount confusion at one point during the suicide death survivor grief process, that individual may be confronted by it again. He maintains that if it reappears, you will already have made at least some progress in processing it and you should be able to address it more efficiently and effectively if it does reappear.
Dealing With Confusion – Lean on a Trusted Person
If you are like many individuals grieving the death of a loved one by suicide, you may feel alone and isolated. The reality is that most people in such a position aren’t completely alone and without access to another person who can provide support.
If you are struggling with grieving the loss of a loved one by suicide, if you are in a state of confusion, consider reaching out to or leaning on a trusted person. You very well may have a friend or family member that you do trust, a person who are at least somewhat comfortable in reaching out to in regard to your situation.
The fact is that someone already in your life is not your only resource in regard to dealing with confusion or your grief process more generally. In recent years, there has been a growth in the number of support groups available to people who are survivors of the suicide death of a family member or friend. Through such a group, you are able to connect with other people in situations similar to your own.
Dealing With Confusion – When to Seek Professional Help
In conjunction with some of the self-help suggestions outlined here for your consideration, do not reject outright the idea of consulting with a professional therapist or counselor as a survivor of a loved one’s death by suicide. In this day and age, there are therapists and counselors who direct a significant part of their practices towards working with people who are suicide survivors. They can provide you invaluable emotional support and a true plan of action to work through your grief. They can also aid you in coming to a sense of clarity when you are in the midst of trying to address a sense of overarching confusion that appears to be sidetracking your grieving process.
If you are unsure where to connect with a suitable therapist or counselor, your primary care physician may have some suggestions, they may be able to make a referral for you. In addition, the local mental health agency in your county is apt to be able to refer you to a suitable therapist of counselor as well to assist you in dealing with your grieving process and with confusion that seems to impeding your work at coming to terms with your grief.