What to Expect

Photo by Cindy Svec - copyright 2013 Cindy SvecHere are a few challenges you might expect in your grieving experience.  But do know this…you can survive them all.  Just be patient with yourself.

  • You will encounter painful reminders unexpectedly.
    A song on the radio…the scent of their clothes…a photograph…seeing someone who looks a little like the one you lost.  Any of these could bring on sudden feelings of sadness or even the sensation that you are reliving the sensation of suicide.  When it happens, stay calm and get away from the reminder if you need to.
  • You may “backslide” from time to time.
    You might have a few days in a row when you feel better and then find your sadness returns suddenly…perhaps even years later.  This is natural, so don’t be discouraged.  You will have ups and down, but generally, coping with your loss will get easier over time.
  • Friends and relatives might not offer the support you need.
    You will truly learn who your friends are during this crisis. A casual acquaintance may turn out to be you most reliable supporter, while a lifelong friend may turn a deaf ear. Lean on the people who are ready, willing and able to help you and, rather to suffer the anger, try to forgive those who can’t.
  • People may make insensitive remarks.
    Suicide is generally misunderstood, and people will feel inept at offering you comfort.  This is simply human nature, and while it would be wonderful if people rose above it, try not to be too hard on those who can’t.  If you encounter someone who seems determined to upset you with morbid curiosity, their own self-important theories or some form of a “guilt trip,” simply sidestep them by saying “I’d rather not talk about it right now” and avoid conversing with them in the future.
  • You may feel bad about feeling good. 
    You’ll laugh at a joke, smile at a movie, or enjoy a breath of fresh air…then it will hit you: “How dare I feel good?”  It’s common to feel guilty when positive emotions start resurfacing, as if you’re somehow trivializing your loss.  Don’t feel guilty about enjoying the simple human pleasures of daily life.  You are entitled to them as much as anyone, if not more.  There will be plenty of time for tears.  Take whatever happiness life sends you way, no matter how small or brief.
  • Your fear of people’s judgement may haunt you needlessly.
    It’s common to project our own feelings of guilt onto others by assuming that they are judging us harshly in their minds.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and remind yourself that you are not a mind reader.
  • Others may tire of talking about it long before you do. 
    Talking through your feelings and fears is essential for recovery from your trauma.  Unfortunately, though your closest supporters may be willing to listen and share with you for a few weeks or months, there’s likely to come a time when their thoughts move on from the suicide while yours are still racing.  This is why support groups are so valuable.  Fellow survivors understand what you’re feeling in a way that even your closest friends cannot. Your fellow group members will never grow weary of offering supportive words and sympathetic ears.
  • Holidays, birthdays and the anniversary of the suicide are often difficult. 
    Generally, the first year, with all its “firsts” will be the toughest, but these events may always be difficult times for you.  Rest assured that the anticipation of the day is far worse than the day itself.  It’s only twenty-four hours and it will pass as quickly as any other day.