It is not uncommon for those who have experienced traumatic loss to seek engagement with other people who have experienced similar losses. Support groups are a good place to start, but they are not for everyone. I went to a suicide support group hosted by Survivors of Suicide (S.O.S., www.survivorsofsuicide.com) and it was extremely helpful. It allowed me to share, vent, cry, and lament in a very safe setting. Others look for support from their social outlets such as family, friends, and church groups. Since we all respond to loss differently, surrounding yourself with the right people is important because not everyone is comfortable with talking about your loss. Let us face it, we also must deal with the stigma associated with the loss of someone by suicide or overdose. I have developed a new group of friends who understand my pain. Here are some things that are helpful to me:
- Talking about the death of your loved one with friends and colleagues to understand what happened and remember your friend or family member. This prevents you from isolating and is helpful in finding your narrative about your loved one and the unique set of circumstances surrounding the loss.
- Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.
- Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest helps us get through each day and move forward.
- Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope.
- Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Possibilities include donating to a favorite charity of the deceased, framing photos of fun times, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you to honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you.
- If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by your emotions, it may be helpful to talk with a licensed counsellor or other mental health professional.