In the fall of my senior year, my high school learned first hand the pain that comes when someone you love commits suicide. I was known as the mental-health-awareness girl at my school and so all pain-filled eyes turned to me, asking what to do. One girl was crying, another unable to comprehend what had happened. There is no proper way to respond when someone you love commits suicide, but here is what I find helps.
Getting the news about a loved-one’s death is never easy. When someone you love commits suicide, time freezes. I strongly encourage taking deep breaths to process the information. Breathing remains a constant focal point when it seems like everything around you is falling apart. I find it very helpful in emotional situations.
It’s okay to cry. I was at school when I learned about his suicide, and almost everyone around me burst into tears then and there. There is no judgement when it comes to hearing bad news. No matter where you are, let it out. If the shock doesn’t hit you until the rest of the community has already mourned, then cry when it does. Everyone processes things differently, so respect your emotions.
My gut-reaction to the news was to write. No words can accurately describe the pain and loss that suicide causes. I wrote creatively about my response to his death and how that affected me. The poem hung in my school for months, the words a way for those who didn’t know what to say to find some comfort. One girl thanked me for writing what she couldn’t say. Writing may help you express what’s going on, and open the door for healing.
4. Talk to Someone
Counselors and therapists are always available if you need to talk to someone. But you don’t need to run to a specialist immediately. Friends and family may be able to help! If I’ve learned anything, it’s that keeping your thoughts bottled up inside only harbors unsettled feelings. Go to someone you can trust and start talking.
5. Give It Time
After a suicide, things don’t suddenly get better. Mourning is a period of time that can vary for everybody. Give it time. Know that you don’t need to be “over” his or her death by a certain deadline. It may take weeks or years to truly get through something as traumatic as a loved-one’s suicide. But know that ultimately, it does get better.
Sometimes writing letters to your loved one after they commit suicide gives you the ability to have some closure. There may be things you wish you said to him or her that you are regretting you never did say. Letters give you that opportunity to express anything you want to. Don’t hold back as you pour your emotions onto the paper. In fact, it’s a wonderful way to facilitate the grieving process.
7. Coping Skills
Coping skills help during difficult periods of time. After someone you love commits suicide, consider redirecting that emotion into healthy outlets. You may try knitting, drawing, dancing, coloring pages, or baking. It doesn’t fix what happened, but it provides a release for pent-up emotions such as confusion, pain, and loss. Find something that works for you, and use it as a means to express yourself.
Everyone responds to a suicide differently. What’s important is to listen to yourself and respect your feelings. It will be difficult, but you can heal, I promise. Is there anything that particularly helped you recover?