Bereavement due to suicide

Adjusting to life without the person who died

After months or years most people seemed to have adjusted to life without the person who had died. They still felt a great sense of loss, particularly when looking at old photographs, or on birthdays or anniversaries (see ‘Anniversaries and other special occasions’) but feelings had become less intense. Over time memories had become a little less painful, though Barbara said that music could still trigger powerful emotions, and Colin said that his son was always “on his shoulder” in certain contexts, like playing golf. Marion described the 11 years since her husband’s death as ‘all the time in the world and no time at all’.

People came to accept that life had to go on: Kate, though still devastated by the loss of her daughters, had accepted this for the sake of her other children, particularly her young son.

Some people attended or helped to run support groups, or found other ways of helping those bereaved by suicide. Many who could use their experience to offer other families support found that it helped them to make sense of what had happened.

Some people said that after a while their lives began to return to “normal” and they realised that their loved ones would want them to go on living. But people sometimes still wanted to talk about the person who had died. They wanted to keep their memories alive.
Helen felt huge waves of emotion after her daughter Charlotte died. Leaving the area then felt like leaving Charlotte, and she felt overly anxious about her other daughter. She still feels sad at times but now feels about “95% normal.”
Rachel’s mother died when she was a teenager. This affected her confidence and made her more introverted for a while, but she regained her confidence, became head girl at school and made the most of her life.

Nina never forgets about her brother’s suicide but can put her feelings into a box and close the lid. At times she revisits those feelings but has decided not to let negative feelings consume her. She is happier than she expected to be.

Some people who had felt guilty after the suicide were glad to say that they no longer felt guilty for what had happened.

Gillian said that the family had mourned her father when he was seriously ill and living in a nursing home. After his death they no longer mourned for him and felt that they had done the right thing in helping him to die as he wished.
Some people still had regrets. Susan’s father decided to take his own life when he developed incurable stomach cancer. She accepted his decision but she still feels sad that he did not have the option of assisted suicide and a choice of a dignified death. Marion regrets that her husband died with strangers.
A few people discussed their view of the future. Many saw the future positively but some voiced fears or regrets. For example, Nina said that she felt sad that if she ever had children they would not know their uncle. Marion feels frightened of what the future might hold because she has not been well physically and because she never planned to go into a nursing home. She wishes Graham could share all aspects of her life and misses his emotional support.
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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated October 2010.


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