Coping Strategies After a Loved One’s Suicide

by | Sep 2, 2014

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide, you have a challenging journey ahead of you. Not only do you suffer heart wrenching grief from your loss, but also from the fact that she chose to take her own life. You may wonder if you could have done something to prevent it. You may feel guilty and blame yourself. You may be angry that she abandoned you. Don’t be surprised if you experience a whole range of emotions.

When you are ready to accept the tragedy and begin to heal, here are a few suggestions that may help.

1)    Take care of yourself. Grieving is emotionally and physically exhausting. Now is the time to put yourself first. Eat healthy, regular meals. Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Get plenty of rest. Your body needs to be in tip-top shape to get through this. When you protect your own well-being you will be able to meet the challenges better.

2)    Reach out. But only to those people who can give you comfort and support. The ones who are good at listening when you need to talk and the ones who can just be quietly there for you when you need silence. Steer clear of the people who suck your energy and make you tend to their needs. Remember, put yourself first during this critical time.

3)    Do it your way. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to grieve. Some people may find it’s helpful to talk about the details of a loved one’s suicide, but others may find they are not ready. Sometimes there is shame connected with suicide, which makes loved ones reluctant to talk about it with others. That may be addressed through therapy.

4)    Don’t rush. There is no timetable for grief. Just as there is no right way to grieve, there is also no right length of time to grieve. Proceed at your own pace, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s time to “snap out of it” or “get on with life” or any other bullying phrase. Those people may mean well, but they are really bullying you. Tell them your healing takes place on your schedule, not theirs.

5)    Don’t expect a linear recovery. Sometimes you take two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes you take two steps forward and three steps back. When that happens, don’t be afraid to get help. There are others, like you, who have survived the suicide of a loved one. Find a support group in which you feel comfortable. Or seek help from a qualified therapist who is empathetic.

Whatever you do, do not suffer unnecessarily without help. Remember that time does heal, and sooner or later you will feel better. That doesn’t mean that the hurt and pain will leave you completely. Anniversaries and holidays, particularly, can trigger fresh grief. But over time the intensity of that grief may lessen, and you can find peace in the memories of your loved one.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here:



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