You may experience multiple or all of the items in this list. Everything in this list is normal, but you should actively get help to process through your grief so that you get better.
- A lot of crying. It's okay to cry or feel depressed. Allow yourself to feel the emotions as they arise. At first, you might cry all day, then a few times a day, then every other day and then right back to all day.
- Sadness, frustration, anxiety, guilt or even anger. Share your grief. Talking about my grief and my loved one helped in the moment and through time helped me to heal.
- Loss of appetite. If you have a loss of appetite, try eating applesauce, yogurt, jello, broth, mashed potatoes, smoothies or acai bowls.
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- You might feel actual pain in your chest
- An inability to take care of your family or children's needs
- You may try to make sense of your loved ones choice. Please try not to. A person struggling with suicide often times struggles in silence. If your loved one did not leave a note, you will probably never know why they made this choice.
- An unexplainable fear to leave the house, drive your car or go to the store.
- Difficulty controlling your emotions
- Difficulty focusing and answering questions
- You might not feel like getting out of bed, showering, brushing your teeth or hair. In the beginning, try to do just one of these things, then try to do 2 of them, then 3 and so on. Take baby steps to get back to your normal.
- Others may be uncomfortable with your grief
- Others may try to tell you how to grieve. Use your voice and tell them that it is not helpful for them to tell or suggest how you should grieve or that you are grieving for too long
- Your family and friends may get overwhelmed. Try to ask for help from as many family and friends as you can.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Your daily and/or weekly routines may be different. This is okay.
Ask multiple family and friends for help with the items in this list
- If you feel suicidal, call 911 or go immediately to the emergency room and speak with a social worker to learn your options for care.
- If you work and decide to take time off from work, contact your employer. I do recommend taking as much time off from work that you need or are able to so that you can actively process your grief. I took 7 weeks off from work.
- If you are not suicidal, immediately contact your primary care physician, briefly explain your loss, schedule an appt ASAP. While at your appt, this is the time to ask for any medication you feel you need like sleeping pills or anti-anxiety/depression medication. Taking this medication will most likely be temporary, but does help in the early days, weeks and months to deal with your grief. Taking medication is completely optional.
- If you do decide to take medication, next schedule an appt with a Psychiatrist and ask for medication management. A Psychiatrist is an expert on medication, unlike primary care physicians, but Psychiatrists do tend to take a month or more to get an appointment with, so make sure to schedule an appt with your primary care physician immediately.
- Contact your employer and find out what your short-term disability benefits include. Often times, they include paid time-off for severe depression. Also, ask what you need to do to qualify. For example, my employer required that I be seen by a doctor within 7 days of missing work and be diagnosed with severe depression to qualify (amongst some other things). This is also why it is important to immediately get an appt with your primary care physician. Documentation of your diagnosis is very important.
- Schedule an appointment with a counselor that specializes in grief. See the counselor a minimum of once a week for as long as needed.
- Locate and go to suicide support groups. See a list by state here.
- Speak to another suicide loss survivor. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a program called 'Healing Conversations' in which they match you up with someone who also is a suicide loss survivor. Click here and locate the button on the page that says 'Complete the form'.
- Paying your bills. If you are unable to afford to pay your bills, you will need to contact your bill providers to make arrangements. I recommend asking a family member or friend to make the calls for you and you can give permission for that person to handle your business on your behalf.
- If you have children, it may be helpful to ask for help caring for their needs while you take time to care for yourself.
Websites that have lists of support groups
- The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (save.org) website has a pretty big list of suicide support groups for Survivors of Suicide within the United States.
- The American Association of Suicidology website has s list of loss survivor groups for Survivors of Suicide within the United States and Canada.
Support groups not listed on above websites
- Gig Harbor, WA (Key Peninsula): Survivors of Suicide Support Group. Contact Bob Anderson at (253) 753-3013.
Websites that contain long-distance support or support resource materials
- The 7 cups website connects you to caring listeners for free emotional support.
- The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) website contains tools to help cope with grief like Greif After Suicide, Suicide Common Misconceptions, Suicide: Frequently Asked Questions, a list of books about coping with loss and much more.
- The Compassionate Friends website provides family support after a child dies.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Preventation (AFSP) website has support for those that have lost someone to suicide.
- The Suicidology website has something called a 'Tool Kit' which has information on the grief suicide loss survivors experience.
- The Suicidology website also has a list similar to the one I put together in the above 'What to Expect' section.
- The Suicidology website also has an SOS Handbook that is a 36 page online book written by someone who is also a suicide loss survivor.