Wishing You A Peaceful Holiday

Wishing You A Peaceful Holiday

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ways To Help Yourself After Suicide Loss

By Catherine Greenleaf

You are probably reading this blog because you have lost someone you love to suicide. I am so very sorry for your loss, and I hope you are doing all you can to take good care of yourself. Suicide loss can have quite an impact on your sense of well-being, your self-esteem and your physical health. It's very important to nurture yourself during these difficult times while you recover from your loss.

Some things you can do right away:

1) Surround yourself with people who validate your loss. Steer clear of the people who seem to be hurrying you through your grief, telling you to "Buck up," "Get over it," and "Move on." Grief takes its own time. There is no stopwatch for your loss. You will get through it in your own way and on your own terms.

2) While we may be living in the 21st century, there is, unfortunately, still a great deal of stigma associated with suicide. You are in a very emotionally fragile and vulnerable place right now. Be careful to shield yourself from the many conflicting views and opinions of others with regard to suicide. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your loved one when others would prefer to condemn or criticize. Not everyone is aware 90% of all suicides result from brain disorders, including chronic depression.

3) Get plenty of rest, good food and quiet time. In other words, nourish yourself, body and soul. This can be challenging because grief can sometimes cause sleeplessness and lack of appetite. Yoga, meditation, quiet walks, soothing music, gardening, dinners with close friends – all of these can go a long way to helping you feel more centered and grounded.

4) Build a strong safety net for yourself. A safety net is comprised of people you can trust to help you during an emotional crisis. A good team would include: a qualified sudden death bereavement therapist; a licensed psycho-pharmacologist to dispense any needed medications for anxiety, depression or insomnia; a weekly or monthly suicide loss survivor support group; and friends who are good at listening and being there for you. The stronger your safety net, the shorter distance you fall during difficult times.

5) Consider getting yourself screened for PTSD. You may have witnessed the suicide or walked in on a completed suicide, the shock of which can cause PTSD. But you should know that just receiving the news can be enough to propel some people into PTSD. Symptoms include: preoccupation or shell-shocked state; agitation, hyper-vigilance, time distortion, anxiety attacks, insomnia, intrusive thoughts, dissociation, and flashbacks. There are very effective treatments for PTSD. Don’t be afraid to get screened and get the help you need and deserve.

6) Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up. Communities often need lots of educating when it comes to suicide prevention and/or postvention. When you are feeling strong enough, help your community step into the light of awareness. Ask your town library to carry books about brain disorders. Suggest your local high school offer talks on suicide prevention for its students. Your involvement may not only be rewarding and gratifying for you, but more than likely will save lives.


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  2. My beautiful, talented, handsome son Cole chose to end his life very recently; he had tried valiantly to help himself throughout the past years - attending support groups, individual therapy, medications, - all to no avail. A couple of months before he died, he said to me; "Mom, I am sorry but I just feel that my brain is "broken" - nothing I have ever tried has worked." My question is: Is there an organization or a group from which I can get information? My desire is to become either a grief support group facilitator or a speaker or an advocate perhaps, to be called in to comfort other families when this tragedy strikes. This is not a club I ever wanted to belong to, as none of us did, but I want to redeem my son's life by doing something we are put on this earth to do - help, encourage, and comfort others. Thank you kindly for any direction and assistance you may give me. Amy Frahm

  3. Dear Amy: I am so sorry for your loss. I would highly recommend the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I would go to their website and look at all of the help they offer survivors of suicide loss. I am sure they would welcome your help. I'm not sure which state you're in, but many states have a Governor's Council on Suicide Prevention/Postvention and you could become a very important influence in your state with regard to helping those left behind after a suicide. Blessings, Catherine

  4. Dear Catherine: Thank you not only for replying so promptly but for your kind words and suggestions for places to contact. And, by the way, I have read so many different articles, looked at websites, blogs, forums, etc., and please know yours 'hit home' with me - you tell it like it is yet you also inform us as you write - no fancy words, no psycho-babble, just the plain truth coming from a place of pain. YET, and this is a big yet, you portray compassion and healing - which gives those of us in the early horrific days after losing someone to suicide, HOPE. That we will some day be there too, smiling again. Blessings back to you, sweet woman. Amy Frahm