November 21st is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, an event that brings together survivors of suicide to share their experiences and offer hope and encouragement to others.
Loss is never easy, but losing a loved one to suicide is particularly painful. Sadly, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly 800,000 people die from suicide each year around the globe. That’s one person every 40 seconds.
Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragic event and it often triggers an array of complex and confusing emotions. The following coping strategies can help navigate the grieving process:
Accept Your Feelings
To begin healing you must accept every single emotion you feel. You may have expected sadness and despair, but many people have a hard time feeling their shame, anger, and guilt. All feelings are 100% okay and normal. Feelings are not facts, but emotions communicate valuable information to us; so pay attention and give these feelings space.
There are No Shoulds
When it comes to loss and grieving a death by suicide, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There is no single right way to cope, grieve and heal. Focus solely on your feelings, your wants, and your needs. Forget the “shoulds.”
While it may feel somehow counterintuitive to you, it’s incredibly important to take care of yourself. Be sure to eat right and get enough rest. Healthy meals and proper sleep can actually help stabilize our mood so we can do the important emotional work of healing.
Talk to Someone
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding suicide, and often survivors grieve in silence. Speaking to someone can really help.
There may be a support group in your local area. Speaking with those who know exactly what you are going through can be very healing. You may also want some one-on-one time to speak to a professional therapist who can guide your emotional journey and offer coping and healing strategies. I would be happy to speak with you about your healing journey, so please feel free to get in touch with me.
And if you’d like to take part in International Survivors of Suicide Day this year, you can find a current list of registrations here.