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Hope and Healing after Suicide

Healing After a Suicide Death

Healing does not mean forgetting. Healing means that sadness and other feelings don’t get in the way of your life as much as they did when the suicide happened. As you heal, the pain will lessen. Here are some tips to help you heal.

Talk about it

Talk about your memories of the person who died by suicide. Share your memories with people who will listen and be comfortable hearing about your pain. The people you choose to talk don’t need to have experienced the suicide with you.

Sometimes friends and family want to help, but don’t know what to do. They may feel uncomfortable talking about suicide or worry that it will make people cry if they talk about it. This may make them act strangely and not mention the suicide at all. These are normal reactions but don’t let them prevent you from talking about it when you need to.

When you’re ready, let people know it’s okay to talk about the person who died by suicide and that they can help you by listening. Most people really care but just don’t know how to help. As you heal, don’t be afraid to talk about your memories of the person who died by suicide.

Do what works for you

Remember to do what feels right for you, not what pleases other people. It’s okay to say no and take time for yourself until you feel ready to accept an invite from others. At other times, you may want to do something that helps you to stop thinking about the suicide for a while and lessens your grief. That’s okay too.

You may find it helps to talk to others who have also experienced a family member, friend or co-worker die by suicide. The healing power of a shared experience is very strong. Many organizations offer bereavement groups to help you cope after the death of someone you knew. Find a bereavement group that makes you feel comfortable to listen and share. Visit Alberta Survivor Support Centres to find a grief or bereavement program near you.

Hold onto your memories

You may find comfort to hold onto items that remind you of the person you lost, such as clothing, jewelry, furniture, or one of their favourite things. You may also find it helps to put together a photo album or build a collection of memories in a notebook. Ask others to share their stories and put them in the notebook.

Beyond surviving

It’s important to know you will get through this hard time. Right now you may not think you can, but you will. Here are some things to remember as you heal:

  • Take one moment or one day at a time. Give yourself time to heal.
  • Get professional help if you need it.
  • Be patient with yourself and with others who may not understand what you’re going through.
  • Set your own limits and say no when you need to.
  • Letting go of negative feelings doesn’t mean forgetting the person you have lost.
  • Be aware that your family and friends may also be feeling pain.
  • It’s common to think about suicide but it doesn’t mean you’ll act on those thoughts.
  • Find someone to talk to who is a good listener and who you feel comfortable sharing with.
  • You may be surprised by how strong your feelings are. It’s okay to express how you feel.
  • Don’t be afraid to cry or laugh when you need to. This can help you heal.

As time passes, it will be easier to cope with your loss. You will get stronger, have more energy to take care of yourself, and find ways to help you heal. Whatever you do, make sure it feels right to you.

This page is developed from the “Hope and Healing: a Practical Guide for Survivors of Suicide” booklet.

Current as of: October 17, 2018

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services