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Helping a Friend

How Can I Help a Friend Through the Suicide of a Loved One?

So many people email me, asking what they can do to help someone that has lost a loved one to suicide, that I decided to put it on the website. Thank you for being such a caring friend.

I Feel So Lost, What Do I Do Or Say?

I'll write this from the perspective of a mother/son loss because that's my story. The one thing she  will need most is someone to let her talk. Sit down by her and say things like, "Tell me how you  feel." "Do you need to talk about it?" Don't be pushy or hover, but 'be there.' (Most men prefer not  to talk about it. Just let them know you’re there if they want to talk.)  * Don't ask her to let you know if you can help, she won't ask you. She isn't even thinking that  well. Instead ask her, ‘can I clean up your kitchen’, ‘mow your lawn’, cook.. or whatever.  * She will blame herself, and this is normal. That's an issue only she can work through, and all  survivors have to do that. In her head she may know she isn't to blame, but it will take time to  convince her heart. Allow her time to work through it.  * And please, NEVER say to a survivor, "it's time to get over it" or "you have to go on with your life  now." It will only distance you. They will never ‘get over’ it. They have to learn how to live with  it, and learning that is a process. It takes time. Also, please don't say things like "He's in a better  place now." That sounds so cliché' and mechanical, and it usually only makes us mad.  * This isn't something you can "fix", so please don't try to. Sometimes just sitting beside her and  letting her cry will do wonders. As much as you hate to see her hurt, it's something she will have  work through herself. Just be there for her. Silence is OK sometimes. * At this point survival is not a sure thing to her, but she's in too much shock to make a decision  about it all. Let her know you're there, but don't pressure her. I had a buddy that came over and  took me out to dinner a of couple times. I was feeling very quiet because he didn't understand,  and I knew that. We just sat there watching people, me wiping tears off my cheek, and not saying  a word. Then he'd take me home and leave. I really needed that. I wasn't expected to ‘do’ or ‘be’  anything; I was just allowed to be whatever I needed to be. That’s a real friend!  * Somewhere around the third month the shock wears completely off, the "fog" will lift, and she  will be zapped back to the very beginning of this grieving process. That's normal. People that  tell  her to "get over it" and "go on with life" will only build walls. Trust me, she would if she could!!!  *After the third month there will be many ups and downs. Birthdays (hers and his) will be very  hard, as well as holidays and the death date anniversary. Please be mindful of that. Sudden little  reminders that ‘sneak up on her’ may cause an unexplained set-back. It will take eighteen months  to two years for her to begin feeling it’s really possible to "regain a normal life."  * If you mention her son it will not cause her pain. The loudest cry from a survivor is "they won't  let me talk about him!" or "they change the subject" or "no one mentions him except me. How can  he just be forgotten?" Please understand that he’s on her mind at all times. She won't have a  single thought that isn't connected to him for months. If you mention his name and she cries, it's  not because you said something that hurt her. The tears are always there, she just released some  of them. This is important for a survivor, so please don't make it more painful by denying her the  times she needs to talk about him. It's not at all unusual for a survivor to become suicidal in the first year or so. Strongly urge her to  get into a support group for survivors. I have some great online support groups; survivors talking  through the issues connected with a loved ones’ suicide. Things no one can understand except  those dealing with it. As compassionate as you may be, no matter how much you love her, you still  can't really understand the issues. Most survivors will only discuss their deep feelings with other  survivors. I have people in my groups that were in therapy for months (some even years), getting  nowhere. After just a few weeks in our group they already noticed a big change. Not all support  groups lead to healing! Check the Support page for What to Look For in a Support Group.  Encourage her to read our web site, and others like it. It will not only show how much you care,  but she will see that others have made it through this, and she can, too.  Thanks for being a friend that cares. Sometimes a simple thing like a card, a hug, or even just a  smile can make all the difference in the world!!   This story sums it up better than anything else I can say: The Most Caring Child Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia was once asked to judge a contest. The purpose of the contest  was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor  was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy  went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother  asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing ... I just helped him cry." © Louise Wirick 2000 Founder- Road2healing
Restoring Hope After a Loved Ones Suicide
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“Ah. I smiled. I'm not really here to keep you  from freaking out. I'm here to be with you while  you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or  sing. It’s a ministry of presence. It is showing up  with a loving heart.”   ~ Kate Braestrup 
Friend, Please Note: A very important part of healing is for  a survivor to connect with other  survivors. A death by suicide is not like other  kinds of death. We’re left with a  multitude of questions and issues to  work through that we don’t  experience with other death, and  we  feel completely lost and overwhelmed   by it all.   In that first year or so, most survivors  will not believe that they can reclaim  their life. It doesn’t feel like there’s  any possible way to. By connecting  with other survivors, they can look to  others that are farther along in the  healing process, and they begin to  feel like, “they made it, so maybe I  can, too.” They can also look at a new survivor  just begining this journey, and turn to  help them along, which is very  healing. Reaching out for support is a very  difficult step for many survivors. If  you really want to help your friend, I  suggest you get them my book and  encourage them to read it.  So many survivors asked me to write  this book that I finally decided to do  it. When they read it, I had a lot of  email saying, “I wish I’d had this book  when I was a new survivor.” It has  helped hundreds of people over the  years, and I know it will help any  survivor out there. This book is like sitting in a support  group, in book form. It’s a great way  to help them see and understand  things that make no sense to them at  all right now.  I’ve gotten so many messages that go  like this: “Someone bought this book  for me and for the first time since the  suicide, I feel like I have hope. Maybe  my life can one day be good again.  I’ve decided to find a support group  [or get therapy].” For more information, or to purchase it simply CLICK HERE
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