Content warning: In this post, the experience of losing a loved one to suicide is discussed. We understand that this may be a very sensitive topic for those who have experienced suicide loss. Please check in with yourself mentally and emotionally before you continue reading.
Suicide, tragically, leaves behind one of the most profound, visceral experiences of grief and loss one can go through. There are unanswered questions, shock and disbelief, and in many cases, suicide causes those left behind to experience the incredible weight of feeling guilty thinking that they could’ve, or should’ve, stopped it or seen it coming.
The reality is that suicide loss will touch nearly everyone in some way during their lifetime. If you talk to enough of your family and friends, you will find someone you know, even indirectly, who has died by suicide. There are few who this tragedy does not touch throughout their lives. Those who are in the inner circle, close friends, family, partners, are often forever changed by experiencing suicide loss, and life never returns to how it was before. Many get involved with suicide advocacy in some form after the loss, and most, if not all, spend the remainder of their lives with a space in their heart that cannot be filled.
If you are a loved one who has experienced suicide loss, there are so many emotions you shift through as you mourn and grieve, some of which may never completely fade as the years pass. Sadness, anger, and shock are some of the more obvious emotions that we experience when grieving. But a very common experience, and one we want to talk about with you, is feeling guilt. As we mentioned above, the guilt that can be left behind with the survivors of a suicide loss is tremendous. This is often called survivor’s guilt, and it can encompass a couple of different mindsets: