Comforting Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One to Suicide
Losing a loved one is always hard, but losing someone to suicide can also be very isolating. People who have suffered a loss due to suicide may feel they’re facing judgment from those around them. After such a devastating loss, it’s very important to have the support of friends and family members. Here’s how you can help:
- Listen. The best thing you can do is to listen without judgment. Allow your friend to tell the story over and over if that’s what he or she needs to do to process it. Everyone experiences grief differently, so it’s important to let your friend express grief in his own unique way.
- Watch what you say. It can be hard to know what to say in such a difficult circumstance, but that doesn’t mean you should say nothing. Just follow a few important guidelines.
- Don’t use the term “committed suicide” because it implies a crime . Instead say “died by suicide” or something similar so that you don’t appear to be condemning or placing blame.
- Don’t use clichés such as “He’s at peace now” or “She’s in a better place” or “You’re so strong.” It’s better to admit that you don’t know what to say, and acknowledge that this is a terrible thing for your friend to be experiencing.
- Don’t be afraid to say the person’s name. Saying the person’s name acknowledges that this was a real person who mattered. Rather than focusing on the way the person died, it’s important to acknowledge the life that was lived.
- Acknowledge that you don’t really know what to say. Tell your friend that you know you can’t possibly understand how this feels, but you’re available if you’re needed. Your honesty will be appreciated, along with your sincere offer of help.
- Offer practical support. Instead of putting the ball in the court of the grieving person, notice things that need to be done and offer to do them. This may mean bringing a meal, taking care of children or running errands. It could mean waiting until the initial shock has worn off and then helping clean out a closet or donate items that belonged to the person who died. It might mean taking your friend out for a coffee, to see a movie or to do some other small thing that will help life feel normal.
More than just a funeral home, Mountain View is committed to caring for families in our community, helping them to heal from loss and grief. We offer grief support for those who have suffered a loss, including support groups and online support that’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us today by visiting our website or calling (253) 205-8672 to learn how we can help.