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Monday, December 17, 2007

Surviving Suicide Loss

The holidays are especially hard for those who have lost someone to death. Loosing that person through suicide can make an already complicated grief process all the more difficult. Below are some tips for those coping with suicide loss. This following information comes to us via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Find more information at http://www.afsp.org/.

One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste, and the gaping hole in the fabric of one's life. There is no closure, nor would I want one. I want to remember him all my life, vividly: his laughter, the smell of his sneakers under his bed, his moments of joy, his humility, and his integrity. Some survivors struggle with what to tell other people. Although you should make whatever decision feels right to you, most survivors have found it best to simply acknowledge that their loved one died by suicide.

You may find that it helps to reach out to family and friends. Because some people may not know what to say, you may need to take the initiative to talk about the suicide, share your feelings, and ask for their help.

Even though it may seem difficult, maintaining contact with other people is especially important during the stress-filled months after a loved one's suicide.

Keep in mind that each person grieves in his or her own way. Some people visit the cemetery weekly; others find it too painful to go at all.

Each person also grieves at his or her own pace; there is no set rhythm or timeline for healing.

Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays may be especially difficult, so you might want to think about whether to continue old traditions or create some new ones. You may also experience unexpected waves of sadness; these are a normal part of the grieving process.

Children experience many of the feelings of adult grief, and are particularly vulnerable to feeling abandoned and guilty. Reassure them that the death was not their fault. Listen to their questions, and try to offer honest, straightforward, age-appropriate answers.

Some survivors find comfort in community, religious, or spiritual activities, including talking to a trusted member of the clergy.

Be kind to yourself. When you feel ready, begin to go on with your life. Eventually starting to enjoy life again is not a betrayal of your loved one, but rather a sign that you've begun to heal.

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