Monday, March 19, 2012

Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

[Updated September 21, 2017]

A reader writes: It has been a year and four months since I lost my brother to suicide. I still feel so lost and more then ever I feel alone with my sadness, anger and disbelief. We had been close when we were younger (we were only 14 months apart) but as we got older we grew apart. The last thing I remember was fighting with him over the phone, six days before he died, and he made a comment about killing himself. I immediately called my dad and asked him to go check on him, but my dad told me that my brother was an adult now and he could not babysit him. Six days later he found him in his room.

My response:  I’m so sorry to learn of the tragic loss of your brother 16 months ago, but grateful that you’ve shared your story with us, and honored to be with you in your pain. As you’ve undoubtedly learned by now, death by suicide is one of the most difficult losses to endure, and certainly one of the most difficult to understand.

If you haven't done so already, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself about the subject of suicide and how you can survive it. Learning to understand and manage your own grief is your greatest power over this traumatic loss. I hope you will consider joining a suicide bereavement support network or find a grief counselor or therapist who specializes in traumatic loss and bereavement. (See the links below for suggestions. Your local suicide prevention center will have a good referral list; call and ask for a referral to a professional who works with survivors of suicide.)

In addition, I hope that you will read what others have written about surviving suicide. Doing so will assure you that you are not alone in this tragedy, will offer you some very practical ways to manage your grief, and will help you to recognize that if others can survive this most devastating of losses, then you can do it, too. (See especially Brandy Lidbeck's helpful and informative book, just published and now available on Amazon, The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide.)

I want to point you (and others reading this) to some resources that I hope will help.

You can download and print a free booklet from the American Association of Suicidology entitled SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide. Although published several years ago (1984), it contains useful and reliable information.

These and dozens of other resources are listed on the Suicide Loss page of my Grief Healing Web site:
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here

Related Books and Articles:
© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC   

4 comments:

  1. Marty, I appreciate your kind remarks to the reader on linkedin whose loved one died by suicide. Many survivors are not aware of the valuable resources available to them after a suicide.

    When my father killed himself 25 years ago, there were very few resources for survivors of suicide. I recall the day as though it was yesterday. I was in the hospital about to give birth to triplets when I was told that my father, a retired NYC police officer, shot himself in his head. As the years passed I have helped many survivors like myself heal from this painful experience.

    To read my story, readers can go to:

    AOL mydaily, It Happened to Me, June 29, 2011, How I Survived my Father’s Suicide before the Birth of my Triplets http://www.mydaily.com/2011/06/29/how-i-survived-my-fathers-suicide-before-birth-of-my-triplets/

    If survivors of suicide would like to learn of grief resources specific to their needs, they can contact www.sharegrief.com. I am a bereavement specialist with sharegrief. For the past ten years, through emails, I have helped those bereaved by suicide cope with their sudden, traumatic loss. This is a free service to the bereaved. http://www.sharegrief.com

    I also am a moderator of a blog for those bereaved by suicide at Open to Hope Foundation. I invite survivors to visit the community blog: Suicide/Overdose/Homicide, and share their stories. http://www.opentohope.com

    If any survivors or professionals reading this blog are interested in reading my book, But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping Children and Families After a Suicide, they can contact me directly and get a signed copy at a discounted price. My email is griefwork@aol.com

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  2. I'm so grateful for your helpful and informative comments, Barbara, and I thank you too for the wonderful work you do! Your book is in my personal library, and is listed among those I personally recommend ~ on my site's Suicide Loss webpage, here: http://www.griefhealing.com/suicide-loss.htm ♥

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  3. I lost my Father to suicide on 1/19/11. I was unfortunately the one who found him shortly after he shot himself in the backyard of the home we shared with my two children.

    I started writing (http://www.daddyslittlegrill.blogspot.com) a few days after to keep my friends and family informed and to relieve some stress. It has transformed my life. I now find such peace in sharing my story and helping others who are going through a similar situation.

    My heart goes out to the woman who lost her brother. Bless your heart Marty and Barbara for helping people who have suffered great loss.

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  4. My dear Whitney, I simply cannot imagine what it takes to survive such a horrible and unspeakable loss ~ and stories like yours (and Barbara Rubel's too) just bring me to my knees. You've both turned your own personal tragedies into determined efforts to offer compassion, support, understanding and hope to others who've suffered similar losses ~ and for that, you have my deepest admiration and respect. Survivors indeed. How fortunate we are to have people like you in our midst, to teach us and show us the way. ♥

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