Coping with Survivor’s Guilt Following Suicide Loss

Coping with Survivor's Guilt following suicide loss

One of your worst nightmares has become reality. Someone close to you has died by suicide. Processing the various emotions that you’re feeling is a bit complicated.

You’re sad, a little angry, and you feel a tightness in your chest that you can only associate with guilt. Experiencing survival guilt after a traumatic event such as suicide isn’t that uncommon.

You can’t help but think that you might have been able to do something to help your loved one and prevent their death.  You’re upset because you’re still here and they’re gone. Here, you can begin to learn how to cope with this complex series of emotions.

Accept Your Feelings

The first step to coping with loss is to accept your feelings. Don’t try to bury your fear, sadness, and anger. Instead, accept these emotions as valid and reasonable feelings. Take a step back and slow down so you can process them.

It will take some time, but as soon as you accept your feelings as reality, you’ll be able to start working on the coping process. Sometimes these feelings can’t go away on their own. In which case, you should go see a counselor.

Realize That it’s Not Your Fault 

When someone dies by suicide, you won’t be able to stop your brain from replaying the last interaction you had with them. If you’d noticed the signs and said something meaningful, your loved one might still be here…or they might not.

You have no way of knowing. After a suicide loss, you want to have someone that you can pin the blame on, though. So, you put it on yourself.

Take a moment to ask yourself if you’re truly to blame. Did you say or do something that may have led them to take such drastic measures? If your answer is no, or you can’t think of an answer, you have no reason to beat yourself up.

Talk to Others 

When your survivor’s guilt gets to be too much, it’s okay for you to reach out and talk to family and friends. If you don’t really have someone in your inner circle that you can talk to, visit a support group.

There are both face to face and online support groups out there that you can turn to. All you have to do is find them.

Do Something Nice for Someone Else 

You might not have been able to reach out to your loved one, unfortunately, but you can help someone else. Educate others about suicide prevention. Give donations to mental health organizations.

Be a listening ear for those who need someone to talk to, within reason. You have to take care of your mental health too, especially if you’re still grieving.

Pull Yourself Through Survival Guilt

Experiencing survival guilt after someone close to you dies by suicide is normal. You can’t help but feel like you could have helped them if you’d noticed their symptoms.

It’s enough to take a huge toll on your mental health, but we’re here to help. Contact us to ask about our counseling services today.