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The Unique Grief of Suicide: How to Cope with the Loss of a Loved One

by | Jan 10, 2018 | For Families

A sad woman looking outside.

When a loved one dies by suicide, the grief brings an overwhelming amount of emotions. With the sadness also may come feelings of shock, denial, confusion, and even guilt.

Everyone grieves differently, but you can find a healthy way to grieve the death of a loved one by suicide.

Suicide Grief Symptoms

Grief can be broken down into three subcategories: acute grief, integrated grief, and complicated grief. The article Suicide Bereavement and Complicated Grief from the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience discusses these subcategories for grieving someone who died by suicide.

Acute grief is the first reaction to someone’s death by suicide, which can be a mixture of intense emotions.

Some common grief symptoms include:

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Denial
  • Guilt
  • Rejection
  • Relief
  • Sadness
  • Shock

Integrated grief is the mourning period when you’re adjusting to life without the deceased. While complicated grief is when acute grief lasts a long time and you’re struggling to accept the death. You can prevent complicated grief by finding healthy ways to cope with your loss; we’ll share some suggestions in the next section.

Healthy Ways to Cope

You need to find your own healthy way to grieve. As one grieving method may work for another person, it may not be the right fit for you. Be open to your feelings and remember to be patient with your grief.

Below are a few healthy ways to grieve:

  • Honor your loved one’s memory on special anniversaries
  • Try a new hobby such as painting or journaling
  • Practice meditation or grief yoga
  • Get out in nature for a walk or run
  • Take time to be by yourself and practice self-care
  • Seek support from loved ones and grief counselors if needed

Reduce the Stigma

You can help reduce the stigma of suicide by openly talking about it and your grief. It assures yourself and others that it’s okay to feel and express a mixture of emotions. However, don’t let these emotions control you. For example, it’s okay to be angry, but don’t let your anger consume you. It’s also typical to feel guilty, but know that it isn’t your fault. If your feelings become too overwhelming or turn into complicated grief, don’t be afraid to seek professional guidance.

What are some other healthy ways to cope and ways to reduce the stigma of suicide? Share them with us in the comments!


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