Supporting Those Who Have Experienced a Death by Suicide


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan
CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

When a friend or colleague experiences the death of a loved one by suicide, be aware that there will be a wide range and depth of feelings.  Honor and respect the needs of these bereaved in the days, weeks, and months following the death.  Recognize that each person manages t grief in their own way so be sure to ask the bereaved if they want your help or listening ear.  You may feel helpless. You may not know what to say. 

These suggestions may help you provide comfort:

  • Accept the intensity of the grief
  • Listen with your heart
  • Avoid simple explanations and platitudes
  • Be compassionate
  • Allow them to express as much grief as they can and are willing to share
  • Understand the uniqueness of suicide grief
  • Be aware of holidays, anniversaries and special occasions
  • Expect that they will tire easily and grief is hard work
  • Offer to make calls to people they wish to notify
  • Keep a list of calls that were made, visitors and people who bring food
  • Help with errands
  • Allow them to talk about their loved one

The best gift you can give is the gift of your presence and non-judgmental listening. With support and understanding, the bereaved can learn to manage their grief in their own way and hold the memories of their loved one in their hearts. 

We Can Help

Speak with the referral team by contacting us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Any first visit and admission can be made the first day.

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