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Bereaved by Suicide by K.B.Whelan

Being bereaved to suicide throws you into a complex level of grief; the emotions of blame and ‘what ifs’ resonate profoundly.


Empower yourself to say the word suicide, it isn’t a word you should avoid because of shame. Talking about suicide doesn’t make those around you suicidal, it normalises the conversation around suicide and makes people feel less alone. Coming to terms with suicide after losing someone can be tough because there is still so much unknown about mental health and the act of suicide. Take comfort in knowing that suicide is the result of an illness, just in the same way as other illnesses, some are fatal.


Death by suicide is often sudden and unexpected, which means there can be more shock experienced compared to other types of bereavement. Feeling shock is a totally normal reaction as news of a suicide can often come with no warning. Shock can also lead to disbelief and denial in the initial stages of grief. Remember not to rush your grieving process and keep in touch with loved ones who can provide comfort and understanding.


Suicide is still very stigmatised and can often be seen as a taboo subject - this can make it really difficult to talk about, whether you are discussing suicide bereavement, or talking about feeling suicidal. This stigma in society causes a lack of conversation which can lead to you bottling up your emotions which can have a negative effect on your mental health. This is why we actively encourage conversations around suicide-related grief, as this is the only way to lessen the stigma, and we can all do our part by having these discussions.


Shame often comes with the nature of suicide-related grief due to the societal stigma associated with the word suicide. Although you may feel a sense of shame when discussing the suicide of a loved one, please know that there is nothing to be ashamed of and you are not to blame. These feelings of shame must be challenged with open conversations, as hiding through shame and avoiding these discussions can make grief more challenging. One tip is to practice saying the word suicide in the mirror, this can help to normalise the word and make these conversations easier.


Although everyone reacts to loss differently, almost every loss is accompanied by stress. Losing a loved one can cause chaos and disruption to your daily life and this can be a really stressful experience. It is also common to experience physical symptoms of stress triggered by grief, such as aches and pains, difficulty sleeping and difficulty breathing. Find ways to manage your stress and be aware of your triggers to try and alleviate your symptoms. Talking to a professional can be a positive way to progress with working to accept this in part.


Mental health and sleep are closely connected. Sleep, or lack of it, is common in grief and those who are bereaved are more likely to suffer with middle insomnia (waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to get back to sleep)- this is even more common for individuals with complicated grief. Good sleep can often help you to cope with the grieving process too. Remember to practice good self-care rituals before bed and seek medical help if your grief symptoms are interfering with your sleep.


Coping with the loss of a loved one is incredibly hard and it is normal to feel like your whole life has been turned upside down, but looking after your own wellbeing when dealing with grief is crucial. It is important to remember to take time for yourself and to practice self-care. Self-care can be anything from binge watching your favourite TV show, to more practical things like cleaning your house and going food shopping.


Note: Reach out for support if need be, please remember you are the best judge of whether this is the right time for you. Speaking to someone who is a mental health trained professional is key.

*Please check our resources page for agencies and charities.

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