---"The suicide does not play the game, does not observe the rules. He leaves the party too soon, and leaves the other guests painfully uncomfortable".--Joyce Carol Oates (1978)
A great loss due to suicide can be among the most painful and difficult losses to bear. You can be left with huge burdens of guilt, anger, shame and regret. It's very common to feel that you caused the suicide or should have been able to prevent it.
You may beat yourself up with unanswered questions like these:
"Why didn't I know how serious this was?"
"Wasn't my love enough to save him?"
"Why didn't I get her some help in time?"
"How did I fail him?
"What will people think?"
There is usually a stigma attached to suicide. And you as a suicide survivor must bear the brunt of the shame. Added to this is discomfort and awkwardness. People just don't know what to say to you, so they stay away.
This adds to your feelings of being deserted and further complicates your grief. Suicide can also lay waste to family dynamics and leave your family in shambles.
Here are some strong strategies to try that may help you all through this trying time:
Do a reality check. Regret is a normal reaction, but you need to put this in perspective: did you cause this death? No, you didn't. He caused his own death. He was ill, not you. Quit blaming yourself.
Forget about the shame and stigma that can surround a suicide. You didn't cause this mess and don't deserve to feel embarrassed. Concentrate on your own healing and grief recovery.
Use the word "suicide". If you keep the real cause of death, suicide, a secret, you won't be able to express your grief in an open and healthy manner. This can bottle up your sorrow and keep it from progressing normally.
On the surface, it may seem that suicide is a very selfish act. Your loved one left you behind to deal with all the fears, doubts, anger, guilt and grief. But you must keep in mind that he or she was mentally ill. Anyone who intentionally commits suicide is most definitely not in their right mind. You might even call it terminal mental illness. In most cases, it is likely that the victim did not really think through how horribly his act might hurt you. He was simply in too much pain to live. Yes, he or she did desert you and leave you with crushing emotional burdens. It's perfectly alright for you to feel extreme anger and rage at the loved one who left you behind. And if it helps you cope, and eases your guilt, place the blame right where it really does belong... with the one who suicided.
OUTSIDE HELP FOR SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE DEATHS
Counseling during the first few weeks after a suicide can be very helpful to prevent overwhelming despair.
Support groups can be especially beneficial in cases of suicide. Sympathetic group members can provide support that might be missing from your normal social support system due to embarrassment and shame.
Those who have experienced loss to suicide themselves are far more apt to understand what you are going through and be able to provide you with a more realistic perspective on the situation.