What I Learned After Losing A Loved One To Suicide

There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is different for all of us and it differs based on the relationship we had with the loved one we lost. There is no one-size-fits-all for this deal.


My Pops died by suicide on August 13, 2016. Tomorrow marks five months of living without him. There are days, a lot of days, that it hurts just as bad as it did on day one. There are other days that I can make it almost all the way through without crying. These are the most important things I have learned so far…

Grief is exhausting, and long-lasting, and difficult. There are several stages of grief and not a single one of them is easy, but they are each necessary. Embrace each stage and feel your way through each one – honestly and thoroughly.

Not all advice is good advice. If you’ve lost a loved one especially if the loss was unexpected or tragic – you are going to get a ton of unsolicited advice. My advice to you is to take what works and leave the rest. Nobody is going through exactly what you are going through, and few of your friends are going to be able to relate to your loss. People are going to say things to you – stupid things and things that hurt rather than help – ignore those words. That’s easier said than done, I know, but trust me on this.

Very few of us are prepared to figure out the details for making arrangements immediately following a loss. In my case, I never talked with my Pops about what he would want in the event of his death and certainly never expected his death to be by suicide. He died on a Saturday night and by Monday morning I had the task of making decisions and arrangements. Bury or cremate? What funeral home or cremation service? What cemetery? It was overwhelming, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of friends. Have someone go with you. Have someone talk about the choices with you. Talk to others who have had recent losses. The hospital or Medical Examiner’s office can give you a list of service providers in your area. Going through this process with my Pops made me evaluate my own affairs and prompted me to start work on a trust with specific wishes, so my children won’t have to think about these things when my time comes. When you are in shock and trying to cope during the first few days and weeks, this is the last thing you want to have to handle.

Showering and changing clothes every day isn’t mandatory, but eating and sleeping are. I don’t think I ate or slept for at least a week following my Pops death. By the time we had his memorial, I was a complete wreck, and I know the lack of self-care added to my shattered emotional state. Drink water, make some toast, go for a short walk, and try to get sleep. I know I would have handled things better if I had taken better care of myself.

If you aren’t able to speak about your true feelings, try to write them down. There is healing power in getting them out. Write a letter to your loved one and say everything you want to say, wish you would have said, miss about them, want to apologize for – write it all. But for writing every day, I surely would have gone mad.

Try to find that one friend or family member who you can be real with. The one who isn’t afraid to sit in that ugly, uncomfortable space with you. The one who doesn’t try to fix an unfixable situation. The one who will just listen and be there next to you.

Suicide isn’t a bad word. Death by suicide doesn’t make someone a bad person. The manner in which my Pops died does not define his life.

Don’t make any permanent decisions immediately following a tragic loss. You are in a valley, and that is never a good time to make significant life changes.

Life can change in an instant. Tell the people you love that you love them. If you know someone close to you is struggling, talk to them – talk openly.


Life will never be the same. It will get easier, but it will never be the way it was before. Don’t beat yourself up if you want to skip a first holiday or special date. We celebrated our first Christmas in January and went to Disneyland – definitely not our usual holiday tradition. Don’t expect everything to go back to ‘normal’ because your new normal is drastically different than your previous normal.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is different for all of us and it differs based on the relationship we had with the loved one we lost. There is no one-size-fits-all for this deal.

You will never get over it. Delete people from your life who expect you to be ‘over it.’

It’s not your fault, and there is no way to turn the clock back. The ‘why’s’ will most likely never be answered, and ‘if only’s’ will deplete precious energy that could be put to better use.

Do what works for you and do not let anyone else dictate what you should do or how you should feel. Don’t pretend because that will only prolong your grief process.

It’s okay not to be okay, and there is no time limit. This is a marathon, my friend.

If you or someone you know is struggling please know that someone is always listening. Reach out for help, please.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255


#grief #suicide #suicideloss #suicideawareness #youmatter #youshouldbehere #stopsuicide

© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017

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