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Hope and Healing after Suicide

After a suicide: Everyone grieves in their own way

​​​​​​​​​​​After a suicide, each person grieves in their own way and at their own pace. There isn’t a normal or right way to grieve.

Thoughts and feelings you may have

​There are some common thoughts and feelings you may have as you try to make sense of a loss. After a suicide you may feel:​
  • ​​sad
  • guilty​
  • numb
  • shocked
  • in denial (you can’t accept what happened)
  • ​angry
  • ​​ashamed
  • confused
  • lonely
You may feel grief in your body and notice that you:
  • feel tired and weak
  • get headaches
  • have sleep problems
  • feel very hungry or not hungry at all
​You may also notice changes in your thinking such as:
  • trouble concentrating
  • racing thoughts
  • feeling distracted
  • forgetting things

Grieving takes time

Losing someone by suicide is painful and often unexpected. Grief doesn’t follow a schedule. You may feel numb and in shock for the first few weeks or longer. Over time, your thoughts and feelings will change as you go through your grief. You’ll feel a lot of pain some days and less pain as time passes. It’s common to have setbacks as you work through your grief.

Finding the answers

Grief is harder to deal with when a death is sudden and you don’t have a chance to say goodbye. You’ll likely want to try to find out why this happened. As you work through your grief, you’ll slowly learn to be OK with not having the answers to all your questions.​

Later reactions

You may still feel pain and loss after several months. But friends and family may offer their sympathy less. They might not ask how you’re doing as often. Remember that it’s OK to ask them for help and let them know you want to talk.

Good days and bad days

You’ll have good days and bad days. You may feel grief in sudden and unexpected ways. Sometimes coping with the loss will feel harder, such as on the anniversary of the death, birthdays, and holidays. You may also have stronger feelings in the weeks leading up to these days.

Self-care

Grief takes energy. Forgive and be kind to yourself when you can’t do the things you think you should do. In the beginning, you may use all your energy just to get through the day, especially if you have to care for others, deal with issues in your life, or make arrangements after the death. 

Here are some tips for taking care of yourself:

  • Make healthy decisions. The more you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to get through each day.
  • Make time for you. Use your alone time to do something soothing (planning a future event, meditating, praying, writing in a journal, going for a walk, working in the garden, or going to a place that brings you comfort).
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel safe and support you.
  • Accept help. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. People often don’t know what to say or do unless you tell them.
  • Express your feelings and give yourself time to heal.
  • Helping Children Cope
  • Healing After a Suicide Death

Current as of: March 22, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services