Coping with Loss
Understanding Suicide Loss
In her short documentary about the death of her mother, filmmaker Diane Conn calls suicide “a very special loss” because it’s a loss that people don’t often understand and consequently slip it under the rug or attempt to hide in the closet (See the video here). The stigma that follows suicide has traditionally loomed large over each bereaved person, keeping the grief experience hidden for many people. Likewise, each person in a family will grieve differently, sometimes making it difficult for individual family members to find support. And some communities are more open about suicide than others. Here we provide you with as much information about what suicide loss is, various ways of coping, research, and resources to help you navigate your way through this very special loss. As you read through and absorb the information we’ve gathered for you, remember that not all of it will pertain to you and that you might come back a month from now when the information could mean something different. Grief is an individual process that changes as we travel through it. Most of all, know that somewhere on the journey that hope is waiting for you.
The Language Around Suicide Loss
Often after a suicide, we don’t know how to describe ourselves. Who are we? Do we belong to a community? And if we do, what community is that? Below we discuss some of the common terms to describe the grief process, people who have lost a loved one to suicide, and how those terms evolve as the field continues to move forward to support people coping with suicide loss. Read more here about the language that describes suicide loss.
Who is a survivor of suicide loss? How many of us are there?
And other commonly asked questions by survivors of suicide loss. Read the questions and the answers here.
What are the emotions of suicide grief?
Suicide loss is confusing and so are the emotions. Read more about what to expect here.
How Individuals and Families Cope Uniquely with Suicide Loss
Each of us copes with suicide loss differently. Understand better how we cope and how our family members and other loved ones might grieve uniquely. Knowing what to expect often can help ease the journey.
Helping Children and Teens Cope with Suicide Loss
The resources for children and teens after suicide loss continue to grow. Here we offer some of the newest and best resources available.
Model Programs Around the World for the Bereaved by Suicide
The number of programs continues to expand and here you can read about a few of the model programs.
Religious and Cultural Views of Suicide
Read about how various religious communities and cultures view suicide and what they do to help the people left behind here.
Coping with Suicide Loss
How do I cope with my overwhelming grief? Read suggestions here from clinicians and fellow survivors of suicide loss of how to process the grief journey and find hope again. Topics include general grief care, bibilotherapy, using writing to heal, and how pets comfort us. We also include an article about how we maintain connections to our loved ones who have died.
Finding Meaning in Loss
Grieving a suicide loss doesn’t mean our lives will be sad for the duration. We have opportunities to make meaning of our losses and achieving posttraumatic growth. Learn more here how that happens and how we can achieve it.
Poetry, Articles of Hope, and Inspirational Words about Suicide Loss
Read what other survivors of suicide loss and inspirational people like Deepak Chopra have written about coping with suicide here.
Getting involved by working on legislative policy around suicide and mental illness are ways survivors of suicide loss can make a difference here.
Therapists as Survivors of Suicide Loss
If you are a therapist and lost a client or family member to suicide loss, read more about how to cope with your unique loss here.
While the studies about suicide loss and helping survivors remain limited, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list here that you can sift through. Many of the researchers who conducted these studies have been involved in this web site.
Resources and Support Communities
As the Internet grows, so do the online resources for suicide loss. An extensive list is provided here. If you’re looking for a local support group or one online, you’ll find the links for them here. Or if you’re wondering whether or not support groups are useful, see what researcher Julie Cerel says. HEARTBEAT founder LaRita Archibald offers information if you’d like to start a support group.