Losing Someone to Suicide
The death of a loved one or friend can feel devastating. If that loved one or friend was lost to suicide, the emotions can also be incredibly complex.
In addition to extreme grief, you may be feeling:
If there were no “signs” that the person was depressed or considering suicide, their death may have come out of nowhere. Perhaps they hadn’t experienced any personal failures or traumas and they seemed happy all the time and now you can’t fathom why on earth they took their own life.
Maybe there were signs – perhaps they’d struggled with depression. Or maybe they just lost their job, experienced the break-up of a relationship, or the death of a loved one. You might be feeling that you either missed the signs or saw them but failed to act. You perhaps are reliving previous conversations where you were dismissive of their struggle or maybe some of your last words to each other weren’t very pleasant. You might be dwelling on the “what ifs”.
Many people view those who facilitate their own deaths as cowards. It can be hard to know their death is seen as something to be ashamed of by society/others. Many religions have very harsh views on suicide and you may be conflicted over how you feel about those views now that someone close to you has died by suicide. Even now, some people refuse to acknowledge suicide as a cause of death for their loved ones.
Perhaps you, might even be feeling that the person who left you cowardly in taking their own life rather than dealing with their problems. In addition to the regular tasks to complete when a loved one dies (filing death certificates, government papers, funerals, etc.), maybe you’ve been left with bigger problems such as excessive debt, dealing with troubled relationships, or business problems.
This loss could have rocked you so much that you may be feeling concerned that someone else may be depressed or that you have to keep an eye on others in your life. You may be thinking, if I failed to help a loved one before – what will stop me from failing again? You may be hypervigilant in looking for clues in loved ones for depression or any signs of trouble. You might have other friends and family feel like they’re being smothered.
Grief can be difficult to overcome. Perhaps you are feeling so overcome with grief, you’re experiencing symptoms of depression and may even be having suicidal thoughts yourself.
When is it time to get help?
It is common to feel all or some of these emotions listed above. Some days will be better than others and there’s no timeline to “get over” the loss of a loved one. In fact – you will likely never “get over” it, but rather be able to move forward with your life and remember them with love and gratitude instead of pure, raw pain. However, if you’re feeling like you just can’t see an end to your pain, feeling like you’re stuck, or the symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, trauma, etc. are getting to be too much to bear, it’s time to seek help. Anytime the feelings you are experiencing are interfering with your daily activities, such as work, your relationships, or your overall happiness, it’s a good idea to get some support so you can feel better.
Losing someone to suicide treatment methods
Depending on what you’re experiencing, treatment methods will vary. For example, if your most prevalent symptom is depression, then your therapist will recommend some treatment methods that are effective for depression. Generally speaking, these are some of the many therapy treatments that have been effective in helping people to overcome grief:
- Grief work therapy refers to the methods used in counselling that help people to grieve loss and understand their emotions associated with the loss in a healthy way, with the ultimate goal of moving forward.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person centered therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Faith based therapy is using science-based therapeutic techniques that are administered by a therapist with similar spiritual beliefs or an understanding of those beliefs. This is not based on any one religion or spiritual belief.
- Emotionally focused therapy is based on observations and experience. It looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interaction.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
We can help you to cope better while you are dealing with this loss in your life. Our therapists have experience in this area. We are empathetic to what you’re experiencing and can support you as you work through the complex emotions that losing a loved one to suicide often brings. It’s okay to feel better and we can show you ways to do so.
Please contact us to set up an appointment.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, this is an emergency – please call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room.
For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:
- Edmonton and area: 780 482 HELP (4357)
- Calgary and area: 403 266 HELP (4357)
- Rural Distress Line (Alberta wide) 1-800-232-7288