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Bereaved by suicide?

Losing someone to suicide can be extremely painful and emotionally complex but you do not have to deal with your grief alone.

It’s important to talk

Any bereavement can be very hard, but losing someone to suicide can bring different challenges as you try to process your grief.

Everyone that knew the person that has died will have had a unique relationship with them and will experience grief differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

Grieving the loss of a loved one always takes time but being bereaved by suicide can be particularly difficult. Try not to not feel under pressure to move on quickly. With time and support you can adapt to a life that may feel very different.

Some people might think that only close family or friends will be affected by the loss, but suicide can have a ripple effect. Work colleagues, distant friends or people that helped the person professionally may also experience feelings of grief.

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What you may be feeling

When someone dies suddenly, you can be left with an overwhelming range of feelings and thoughts that can be hard to understand. If your feelings become too much, speak to someone you trust or your GP. You can also call the Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Information Service on 0161 983 0700, they will help to find the right support for you.

Shock

When someone dies suddenly, you can be left with an overwhelming range of feelings and thoughts that can be hard to understand. If your feelings become too much, speak to someone you trust or your GP. You can also call the Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Information Service on 0161 983 0700, they will help to find the right support for you.

Anger

It’s not unusual to feel angry with the person who has died or yourself for not being able to prevent this. You may be angry with someone you feel is to blame or feel angry with the world.

Anxiety 

You may be anxious about whether you can cope without the person you lost or worry about the impact on others. Finding a person who has taken their life is likely to be traumatic.

You may be feel overwhelmed with anxiety, have flashbacks and nightmares, or experience distressing images or sensations. These can be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. If it all feels too much, it’s time to speak to your GP.

Sadness

Feeling sad is perfectly natural, but if the pain feels more constant or overwhelming, you need to speak to someone. Losing someone to suicide can be very distressing so if it becomes too much speak to your GP or Samaritans.

Numbness

Feeling numb is a natural response. If you feel numb for too long and can’t feel anything else, it’s important to speak to your GP.

Guilt

You may feel guilty for a number of reasons. You might think that you could’ve done more to prevent the person’s death and keep thinking ‘if only…’.

If the person who has died had been unwell for some time, you may feel relief that they’re no longer suffering and the stress you experienced when they were alive, is over. These feelings can be hard to acknowledge and may come with feelings of guilt, but it’s a natural and understandable reaction.

Physical response

It can be common to also feel physically unwell, for example with headaches, stomach pain or sickness.

You might feel unable to eat or sleep, or you may be eating or sleeping more than is usual. Speak to your GP if you are struggling.

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Things you can do to help

There is no set way to deal with a bereavement but here are some things that others have found helpful as they grieve.

Talk to someone

As well as talking about your feelings, it can be helpful to talk about your memories of the person who has died and your relationship with them. You could talk to anyone you feel comfortable speaking to or you can find support in your area.

Make opportunities to remember

You could look at photographs of the person, write about them, do something creative in their memory, plant a tree, or create a box of physical memories you shared with them of things like tickets, cards and pictures.

Develop a ritual

Some people find it helpful to do something to remember the person like lighting a candle at a certain time on certain days, listening to their favourite songs, eating their favourite meal or just taking a moment to remember them in your own way.

Take part in activities

Carry on doing the things you enjoy, like sports, creative activities, socialising or any other hobby.

Look after yourself

Try to eat healthily, get the right amount of sleep and take care of yourself physically.

Make a safety plan

A safety plan will remind you of the positive things you can do to help you cope during difficult times.

Spend time outside

Regularly go outdoors for some fresh air and a change of scene. Connecting with nature or exercising outside can also be helpful.

Meet others who have also been bereaved

Sometimes you may feel that nobody understands what you are going through. You may want to speak to someone who has had a similar experience to you.

You could find a peer support group in your area or contact an organisation run by people who are bereaved by suicide, like Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide.

Or you could join Speak Their Name: Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Group, an online peer support group centred around crafting.

Take one day at a time…

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Getting the right help

There is support available for you and your family, local and national services as well as peer support groups.

Greater Manchester Suicide Bereavement Information Service can help find the right support for you and answer any questions you may have. It’s a confidential information service for people bereaved or affected by suicide in Greater Manchester, no matter how long it’s been since the person died.

Call 0161 983 0700 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm excluding bank holidays).

Or you can email sb.is@nhs.net.

 

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