Nearly 45,000 people took their own lives in the United States in 2016 (the last year a full set of data is available). Suicide is on the list of the top 10 causes of death in the country.
Approximately 4,300 Californians took their lives in 2016. California is ranked 46 when it comes to the state’s suicide rate. Although the suicide rate in California is well below the national average, every day about a dozen people take their lives in the state.
If you’ve lost a loved one by suicide, you’re not alone. There exists an array of emotions common to those people who’ve lost a family member or other loved one by suicide. Common emotions experienced in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one include:
The stark reality associated with aftermath of the suicide of a loved one is that you very well may experience most, if not all, of the emotions simultaneously. The key is not to fault yourself for experiencing powerful emotions following the suicide of a loved one. The key is to develop the healthiest possible coping and healing strategies as a means of moving forward after you’ve lost a person you cared about to suicide.
Healthy Coping and Healing Strategies after a Loved One’s Suicide
You don’t need to reinvent the proverbial wheel when it comes to developing healthy coping and healing strategies in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide. There are some solid, healthy healing strategies that have worked for others. These strategies are suggestions. Some of these are likely to be helpful to you in developing your own pathway to healing from the loss of a loved one by suicide.
Grieve in Your Own Way
When it comes to healing from and grieving the loss of a loved one by suicide, you must do what is right for you. There is no one “right way” to grieve. For example, some people take comfort in visiting the gravesite of a loved one. Others find the idea of such a visit to painful to even contemplate. These are both perfectly appropriate reactions to the loss of a loved one by suicide.
Do Not Rush Yourself
On a related note, do not rush yourself when it comes to grieving and healing the loss of a loved one by suicide. Do not let other people set up expectations for you about the manner in which you mourn, grieve, and heal.
Keep in Touch with Others
Do not isolate yourself following the suicide of a family member or friend. Taking time alone is perfectly acceptable and healthy, but completely isolating yourself can hamper your grieving and healing process. Reach out to different people who will provide you honest and caring support. These people can include:
- Spiritual leaders
- Therapists and other professionals
Brace Yourself for Painful Reminders
The pathway to heal and grieve the loss of someone who took his or her life is not a straightaway. Be prepared for painful reminders along the way: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Dates on the calendar are not the only instances in which you can face painful reminders. Places and other people can also cause painful recollections to well up.
Setbacks are Natural
As you grieve and heal, keep in mind that some days will be far better than others. As mentioned a moment ago, grieving and healing from the suicide of a loved one is not a straight pathway. Indeed, even years after the death of your loved one, you may experience some type of setback associated with that loss.
Consider a Support Group
In California, and across the United States, there are support groups designed specifically for people who’ve lost family members or other loved ones by suicide. A support group of this nature can be invaluable as you mourn, grieve, and heal. Every survivor after the suicide of a loved one has unique experiences and issues. However, there is at least some commonality between most people who’ve lost a loved one by suicide.
Know When to Obtain Professional Help
If you feel as if you aren’t making any real progress towards healing from the suicide of a loved one, if you aren’t experiencing any relief from your grief and associated emotions, consider seeking professional assistance. There are grief therapists throughout California that specialize in working with people recover from the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one.