There is a topic of grief that is most difficult to comprehend and equally as uncomfortable to discuss that I would like to address this week.
This is the subject of suicide.
The grief is very complex for families that suffer a loss in this way and the questions that come to mind are often unanswerable.
Family and friends are blindsided from such a sudden and unexpected loss.
This type of death can also bring some feelings of stigma due to religious beliefs and cultural and social judgments.
Often times, families feel very isolated, as we are not accustomed to talking about death itself, let alone when someone chooses to take their own life.
Friends and other family members may shy away from talking about the terrible event as if the death never happened, or they may be “unavailable” to be part of the support network we all need when we suffer the loss of a loved one.
As humans, we tend to fear and avoid what we don’t understand.
Sometimes, families of suicide will isolate themselves after the loss for fear of a stigma that may not even be present.
It is a difficult loss to suffer when we can’t put our finger on whom to blame, or why it happened and it can be even more difficult for those who blame themselves.
Families are left with feelings of guilt, shame or anger.
It may be of help to try and understand that the person who died made the decision to end their life – not the family or friends.
It should also be noted that some studies show people who choose to end their lives are often suffering from undiagnosed depression or another mental illness.
So what do we do when faced with this terrible loss?
The first thing is to acknowledge the loss for what it is – suicide.
Be candid with your emotions so others in your support group, or family, will feel free to share their true emotions.
Acknowledge that birthdays and special occasions will be difficult and decide what you will do to honour your loved one.
Find a support group outside of your family.
Others who have suffered loss from suicide will be of great support. You may want to check out SOS – Survivors of Suicide. They can help.
– Barbara Bleiler is a certified funeral celebrant and advertising rep for the Grand Forks Gazette