How can you console someone who has lost a loved one to suicide?
Many people who have lost a loved one to suicide tell us what they want most is to know that people care about them and are not judging them or the loved one they are grieving. The death of a loved one through any cause is painful, but losing someone we love to suicide adds another layer of pain and emotions to the experience of loss.
In our attempt to help, we can listen to what has helped others in this situation:
• Be there even if you don’t know what to do or say. The comfort of food, flowers, donations to causes, offers to help with final plans, and babysitting, can bring some comfort to those who are grieving
• Mention by name the person who has died and talk about his/her positive qualities and what you loved about him/her. People don’t want their loved one to be forgotten.
• Listen to your friend’s experience and try to understand what he/she is going through. Sometimes we need to stop ourselves from saying what we might think is helpful, but doesn’t really help those in sorrow, such as “You’re so strong”, “time heals all wounds”, “you will love again”. Our best intentions can be offered in words like “We love you and ________ (lost loved one)”, “What can we do to be helpful right now?” and “How are you getting along?”
• Be aware that other relatives and friends such as children and grandparents can often be overlooked.
• Take care of yourself and know your limitations – when a friend is hurting it takes its toll on you, too.
• As time passes, people appreciate those who remember the anniversary date and birthday of their loved one because they don’t want that person to be forgotten and never mentioned.
• Suffering a loss to suicide is a long-term bereavement. Your acceptance of that and not expecting a person to “snap out of it” will be appreciated.
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)
SOS Support Group for Survivors of Suicide, MHA of RC 845-267-2172
(A professionally facilitated group for those who have lost someone to suicide)
For more referral information, call our Client/Family Advocate – Nicole Sirignano, 845-267-2172, x296.
Author of blog – Marcella Amorese, Director, Children and Family Services, MHA Rockland, 845 267 2172 x324 amoreseM@mharockland.org