Coping with suicide
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
The death of a loved one by suicide is traumatic and devastating for survivors who are shocked and unprepared. What can survivors do to cope with suicide?
Learn about grief and the grieving process. Grief is a human reaction to loss, and there are common and predictable reactions, stages and phases we normally experience. Information about grief is available through funeral homes, grief counselors, mental health clinics, hospitals, libraries and the Internet. Understanding grief and the grief process will expedite your adjustment, acceptance, healing and recovery.
Accept the fact that you are experiencing grief, feeling strong emotions and having a normal reaction to an upsetting situation. It is not uncommon for us to experience shock, denial, shame, mental confusion, anger, physical distress and guilt when a loved one commits suicide.
Express your feelings. Do not repress your feelings. Cry if you feel a need. Discuss how you honestly feel with someone you trust. Do not withdraw from people who can help. Isolating yourself only intensifies your feelings of being alone.
Keep a check on your health. Your body needs proper nutrition. Intense emotions that accompany grief can cause changes in body chemistry, so it is important that you get physical exercise. This helps to maintain a necessary balance in bodily functions. Neglecting your health can create further complications.
Join a grief support group. Here you will be surrounded by an atmosphere of love, support, understanding and nurture in which you can pick up the shattered pieces of your life and begin the process of recovery and rebuilding.
Take your time in making major decisions. Do not immediately sell your house or change jobs. Give yourself time to adjust and think things through so that you do not make rash decisions you will later regret.
Decide that you are going to “live again.” Take your time. Keep trying. Take “one step at a time” as you make your way back into the mainstream of life, and remember the old adage, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
Doing the right kind of personal grief work moves you toward a healthy recovery and prevents you from getting stuck in pathological grief that can result in psychosomatic diseases, obsessive-compulsive rituals or self-destructive behavior.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.8.08