Take the time you need to make sense of what has happened, experience the grief and take care of yourself. You will most likely know what is best for you and what you need – and remember this may change over time.

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. Be patient and try to take each day at a time.

There will be times when grief may sweep over you in sudden, unexpected waves. This may be triggered by things like music, places, photos or a sudden memory. 

Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, or milestone events can be especially hard. Expect your grief to resurface in some way at these times. Planning ahead may make things easier to manage, e.g. you could plan to be with others, have a meal together, visit a special place, hold a ceremony or light a candle. Some people may prefer to treat the day like any other day. Everyone experiences grief differently.

  • Give yourself time to rest and recover. It will take time to feel in control again – this is normal 
  • Remember that what has happened to you is traumatic, and what you are feeling is your response to that trauma
  • Reassure yourself that what happened is over, that you are safe. You will get through this 
  • Make little decisions, but avoid making big ones while you are feeling this way
  • Know it is normal to have disturbing mental images of what happened – these will fade over time 
  • Sleep and eat even if it is hard to, exercise and get outside in the fresh air. If you are really struggling, see your GP
  • Avoid alcohol and non-essential drugs - you may want to numb the pain but it will not help your long-term recovery
  • Talking really helps. It could be to a friend, a counsellor or helpline  
  • Try to keep a routine; get up in the morning, eat at set times and continue to see friends 
  • Remember you are not alone.

‘Twenty months after my son’s death by suicide I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and gasping - that deep pain is there in my sleep. My subconscious mind is processing that loss’. 

‘I tried to hurry grief because I got so tired and fed up with it. Looking back, I can see it’s just what had to happen.”

‘Don’t ever feel ashamed for grieving. Don’t try to push grief down. Let it out and feel it. Don’t avoid it to make others feel better. Grief is normal. It means you loved.”

If grieving is becoming very difficult

Grief is confusing and can turn our world upside down. It can feel overwhelming and extremely painful. How do you know when you or someone else who’s grieving may need extra support? 

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to seek help from a GP, counsellor or mental health professional if someone who’s grieving is experiencing the following:

  • ongoing problems with the ability to eat, drink or sleep 
  • intense anxiety
  • depression.

It’s important to remember you are not alone. Asking for help can be an important step in the grieving process. 

Complicated grief

When we’ve lost someone we love, we may never stop missing them or feeling sad about how they died. However, over time, we learn to live with loss. The intensity of grief changes and it becomes easier to cope with.

Sometimes, complicated grief can occur. This is an experience of grief that’s persistent and intense and doesn’t get better with time. It may include thinking deeply about the loss over and over again (ruminating), or trying very hard to ignore grief and reminders of loss while ‘rewriting’ what happened. 

Complicated grief is a condition that makes it difficult to recover from loss and resume normal life. It’s important to seek support for complicated grief, either from a GP who can organise a referral for therapeutic support, or a counsellor.