Loss Through Suicide
Suicide leaves those who are touched by it with a unique kind of grief, filled with unanswered questions, stigma from those who don’t understand, and sometimes immense guilt. More than 800,000 people die by suicide each year.
Loss Through Suicide
Suicide is a unique form of loss. For many survivors the grief is complicated by questions of responsibility, missed opportunities to help, and profound guilt. In addition there is the societal and sometimes religious stigma that surrounds suicide. Close friends and family may not understand their loved one’s decision to end his or her life, and may have feelings of anger and confusion. Survivors are faced with the challenge of how much to share and with whom. Talking to children about the loss of a loved one by suicide is particularly complicated. This page will hopefully help as you work through these intricacies.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Friends for Survival: A National Outreach and Support Organization for those affected by a suicide death
Meets at Rescate Coffee on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 7-8:30pm.
2475 Elk Grove Blvd. #160
Meets at Valley Springs Presbyterian Church, Thursdays at 7 PM
2401 Olympus Drive, Roseville
Meets at Faith Episcopal Church, Tuesdays at 7 PM
2200 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park
*Call Marilynn Koenig at (916) 392-0664 with any questions.
Suicide Alliance of Hope
Suicide: Finding Hope
Our Side of Suicide
Suicide is Preventable
Each Mind Matters
Mental Health America
www.bit.ly/1HNmHLL to access local support groups
Talking to Children about Suicide
California Suicide Support Groups
Grief Share Support Groups
Grief Support Group
Drop-in groups meet the First & Third Tuesday at 10 AM at United Methodist Church
Living Through Loss Grief Series (offered periodically) Call for details.
8986 Elk Grove Blvd.
Rituals and ceremonies
Rituals can provide a great deal of peace, can honor our loved one, and can gather us together in grief. Ceremonies that honor one lost by suicide may be different than those that mark other losses. In my case, my young kids did not yet know about the nature of my brother’s death and therefore I chose not to have them at the large celebration of life that we had. I was glad that I made this decision as there was a great deal of painful and passionate discussions about his demons. I chose instead to have a ceremony for just our family on the beach. We blew bubbles and wrote messages to him on bottles that we sent out to sea. My parents and I now celebrate his birthday at his favorite ocean town and have chosen to remember this day rather than his death day. I know that based on many church’s beliefs about suicide some have not been allowed to hold ceremonies in the church for those lost by suicide and therefore the creation of these unique ceremonies can be even more meaningful.
As I discussed, taking a walk in your loved one’s honor can be particularly intimate. This can be a private thing, placing your loved one in your mind, taking his spirit with you, and walking together if this resonates with you spiritually. I like to put on Steve’s sunglasses to see the world through his eyes and put his favorite backpack on. I truly feel like this is an experience I share with him.
In addition, as I talked about under the American Society for Suicide Prevention, there are organized walks to further research on the prevention of suicide. After I have completed these walks, I feel productive, like I have actually DONE something. I also have really appreciated the group energy, uniting with others like me in a common purpose. Sometimes on these walks I look for special signs from him (for my parents and I it is feathers and heart shaped rocks).
Or, maybe there was an organization that your loved one participated in or would have liked to and you can help even in a small way. Again this can celebrate them and keep their positive spirit alive.
There are so many ways to remember and honor a loved one through creating something. Although I am not a crafty person, I have made somewhat of an altar to Steve. I have arranged some of his special possessions; baseball mitt, expensive sunglasses, shells and rocks he collected, favorite cologne, and lots of pictures. These along with a photo collage of Steve with my kids that was displayed at his memorial at first occupied a prominent place in my living room. As time has passed it has now moved to a bedroom. I don’t know where it will live permanently.
Other ideas I have heard of are creating jewelry with your loved one’ names, or dates, or favorite quotes etc. For this, I highly recommend Jillian B. Designs. Jill, the founder of Together We Heal will help you create a special piece that you can wear to remember and honor the one you have lost.
I know that creating a shadow box or memory box can be a way of treasuring belongings. I have heard of sewing a blanket made out of your lost one’s clothing. Possibilities are endless here.
The “activity” I do most frequently is talk to my brother. I talk sometimes in my head and sometimes out loud. I tell him about things going on, ask for his help, tell him I miss him. This is not for everyone but for me feels real and healing.
healgrief.org (to create an on-line memorial)
loveliveson.com (coping with holidays)
funeralzone.com.au (various ceremonies)
www.stardust-memorials.com (memorial jewelery with ashes)
www.jillianbdesigns.com (custom hand-stamped jewelry to embrace your story)
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24-hours
1-800-273 TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741741
The Trevor Project- Support for LGBTQ youth
Suicide Loss Help Line