Tomorrow, November 23rd, is a day for survivors of suicide loss to come together for healing and support. This day is intended to help people who have lost a loved one to suicide, helping them to find connection and understanding in their shared experiences.
Losing a loved one is tremendously painful. And when you lose someone to suicide, the grief you experience can be harder to navigate as it is often accompanied by confusion and self-blame. Those of you reading this who have survived a loss, please know that you are not alone. We hope you can find some comfort and understanding in the below:
You’re not to blame
It’s natural to look for someone or something we can blame for our loss. In these circumstances, surrounded by grief and anguish, we can easily blame ourselves. We search for answers while agonising over all the little things we could have said or done that may have changed the course of events.
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can categorically say or do to keep someone alive. Our presence and actions do contribute to people’s lives, but we aren’t ultimately accountable for the decisions they make. As difficult as it is to accept, you’re only human and suicide isn’t something you alone could prevent.
Suicide is highly complex
In an effort to understand the motivations behind a person ending their own life, we can find ourselves filling in knowledge gaps or oversimplifying things. Suicide is highly complex; those at risk are often in a state of conflict and emotional exhaustion. They have reached a point where expending energy on living comes at a greater cost than dying.
It’s rarely ever as simple as deciding on suicide and it’s important to understand that the act alone seldom reflects how the person feels about their life as a whole (or the people in it). More accurately, it demonstrates how that person was feeling in that very moment. It is a product of their state of mind at the time they ended their own life or attempted to do so.
The intention wasn’t to hurt you
There’s a common misconception that people who die by suicide feel they aren’t loved. While this is true in some cases, many people who have attempted reported doing so as a way of protecting their loved ones. Suicide survivors perceived it as a way of freeing friends and family from the burden of their existence.
Although this is a distressing concept, it can provide some comfort to recognise that the intentions of someone who takes their own life aren’t malicious and that they did understand how loved they were. When someone close to you dies by suicide, we need to hold on to the little things to help us navigate the confusion.
Give yourself time to grieve
Losing a loved one to suicide is a traumatic and painful experience. Know that it’s normal to feel scared and that it’s ok to struggle; we advise you seek a local support group or reach out to ask for help – doing so can go a long way in guiding you through the grief. Crucially, give yourself the space you need to grieve; allow yourself to do so in your own way and at your own pace.
If you need someone to talk to, please take a look at the below resources:
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide