There is no timetable on grief, so it’s impossible to say how long it will take for your life to begin to feel normal again.
There may be times when it feels like nothing will ever be right again, but try to remind yourself that this feeling is not forever. You will recover, it just takes time.
It’s hard to be patient with recovery, especially as life keeps moving on around you and pressuring you to continue as normal, but you deserve the time to heal and adjust from this traumatic loss, so allow yourself the time and space to do so.
There are, however, some things you can do to aid in your recovery process and ensure you are on the best possible path toward healing:
Seek Therapy or Grief Counseling
It may feel as though there’s nothing a therapist could tell you that you don’t already know, but therapists do a lot more than just talk. A good therapist can:
- Help you find productive ways to express and process your feelings
- Suggest healthy coping strategies
- Alleviate shame about the emotions you are feeling
- Provide a neutral space to talk about sensitive topics
- Address any suicidal feelings you may be having
- Offer crisis support
Professional help won’t cure your grief, but it can help you feel like you have more control over where the grief is taking you.
Find a Support Group
Because suicide is unfortunately so common, there are many survivors who are going through something very similar to you.
Finding a support group will help you to connect with them. Like therapy, this can give you a forum to work through complicated feelings—but more importantly it can help you feel less alone in what you’re going through.
Strengthen Your Community
Support groups are excellent, but it is also a good idea to form a tighter circle of support with those who are grieving the same person you are.
With this group you can share more specific feelings about the situation, as well as find positive ways to honor your loved one together.
Eventually you may find yourself laughing together over happy memories of the person, which is a huge and important step on the road to recovery.
Some people are able to find a greater sense of peace and understanding through personal faith practices.
Whether it’s organized religion or general spiritual practices, finding spiritual meaning in life and death can be hugely beneficial.
However, be aware that some religious belief systems condemn suicide as a sin.
Carefully consider whether these beliefs will aid in your recovery or if another faith would prove more forgiving and uplifting.
Establish Rituals and Traditions
As time goes on, you may find that birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are especially difficult. During these times, it can be helpful for you and other loved ones to find special ways to honor the person you lost.
These can be small acts, like sharing stories on holidays, or larger things, like celebrating their birthday. Mark the occasion with whatever feels right.
Beginning new traditions is a good way to keep your loved one close to you even as your lives begin to move forward without them.
Cherish Community & Connection
Above all, community and connection are what will be most helpful in getting you through this time.
Resist the urge to disconnect from others. Do what you can to reach out. Be sure to accept the help of those who are reaching out to you.
There are a lot of other people going through the same tragedy as you, and you can support one another through this difficult journey.
There are also likely people who care about you that aren’t connected to the tragedy who you can lean on.
Even if you aren’t looking for someone to console you, sometimes finding distractions from the pain can be helpful in allowing yourself the space to heal.
In the wake of a suicide, there is often an increase in suicidal thoughts and impulses in loved ones as well. Often, these thoughts are a result of your brain trying to cope with the loss. It can become a genuine risk—particularly among families and friend groups with high rates of mental illness.
To kep everyone safe, have a close community of survivors and encourage everyone to be open with their feelings, especially about suicidal thoughts.
The more your community unites to support and protect each other, the better the chance of preventing this tragedy from happening again.
Finding a Future
Meaningful Steps Forward
Your grief may have you feeling a little stuck in time right now—unable to move forward in any meaningful way. As time passes this will begin to ease and you will find yourself beginning to move on.
When the forward motion starts again, it is an instinct for some to try to hang onto their grief out of a sense of duty to the person they lost, or fear that letting go will mean forgetting.
Truly Moving On
The idea of truly moving on can be scary. If you’re struggling with the transition, volunteering your time to a cause dedicated to preventing suicide and supporting survivors like you can help to ease some of the guilt and fear.
Working to do some good in the name of your lost loved one serves as an excellent bridge to carrying on with your life while still keeping their memory with you.
There may still be bumpy roads ahead. Grief is complicated and can come in spurts and waves, but as you start feeling a little more whole give yourself permission to begin living again.
Little by little, life and joy will return to you, and though the ache may not ever fully go away, things will get better.
Suicide leaves deep wounds in families and communities. The scars will always be there. However, with time and support, you will be able to reclaim happiness for yourself and begin living again.