Any kind of death is difficult, and a death from suicide can be especially hard to cope with. It’s sudden and shocking, and may leave you with lots of questions that are difficult or impossible to answer.
If you lose someone by suicide, you may experience all kinds of emotions and physical reactions to the stress you are under. You may feel you will never recover from the loss, and even feel you don’t know how you are going to carry on. Coming to terms with what has happened will take time.
Some common grief reactions to suicide:
- intense shock, numbness and disbelief
- reliving the details of the death, especially if you are the one who found the person's body
- not being able to sleep, or having nightmares and dreams about the suicide
- feeling shame, whakamā, guilt or blaming yourself
- a fear of being alone, or of others dying ‒ and wanting to be with friends or whānau a lot
- feeling betrayed, rejected or powerless
- anger, or blaming others for the loss
- not wanting to talk, or wanting to be alone
- forgetting things, or finding it hard to concentrate
- sadness, emptiness or loneliness
- an ongoing and intense search for meaning and reason for the suicide.
- feeling alone, stigmatised or blamed for the death
- thinking about suicide a lot, and having thoughts of suicide
- feelings of relief ‒ this is often the case if the person who died by suicide had threatened or attempted suicide a lot before they died
- physical reactions like soreness, exhaustion, headaches and nausea
- other grief reactions – read more about grief and loss
Getting through a loss from suicide is different for everyone – even the length of grieving will differ from person to person. There’ll be good days and bad days, but gradually things will change and get easier.