Shelby Charter Township, MI funeral homes

Helping Someone Who’s Lost a Loved One to Suicide

Shelby Charter Township, MI funeral homes are capable and experienced in handling our loved ones who, for whatever reasons (and those may never be known or known completely), take their own lives. Deaths that occur because of suicide are perhaps the hardest for the family that survives to understand, to cope with, and to move forward from.

Men – middle-aged white men have the highest rate of suicide in the United States – are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than women are. Over 50% of American suicides are committed using firearms. Every death by suicide leaves approximately six or more “suicide survivors” behind.

To help someone who’s lost a loved one to suicide, we need to first dispel much of the stigma and the conventional wisdom that surrounds suicide. The first thing to understand about a person who has committed suicide is that they were in excruciating pain, mentally and emotionally.

While some may have hid it well – “I never saw it coming” – the pain permeated every part of their lives. It became so overwhelming that they couldn’t see anything else, including reasons to continue to live, the people who would be devastated when they were gone, and the value they had and they provided to others.

Suicide, no matter how carefully planned it may appear to be, is never a rational act. It is an outgrowth of deep inner turmoil where all other options first get obscured and then disappear altogether.

Suicide is not selfish, cowardly, or weak. People who kill themselves are literally not thinking clearly. They don’t see a place in life for themselves anymore. The agony of the mental and emotional pain gets too intense to bear and making that pain stop becomes the focus, not depriving other people of someone they love.

None of us walks in anyone else’s shoes. All the things that coalesce to cause someone to take their own life will never be known to anyone but them. So, it’s important not to pass judgment or condemn what we don’t know and don’t understand.

Someone who has lost a loved one to suicide needs empathy, compassion, understanding, and love. From the top, we have to understand that we won’t have the answers that they are seeking about why their loved one committed suicide. And because of that, we need to be careful about causing more pain by offering platitudes (“They’re at peace now” or “I know how you feel” or “It’s for the best”).

Listen and be silent, because it’s impossible to adequately address the grief a suicide brings or to any of the questions being asked. Be aware that this is very emotional time and emotions may swing from anger to confusion, to guilt, to blame. That’s normal when someone is grieving intensely Be generous with hugs, with hand-holding, with sharing the tears of someone who’s lost a loved one to suicide.

If you don’t know how the deceased took their life, don’t ask. By asking, you force the grieving person to relive the moment they found their loved one. That’s already a scene that will be etched in their memories forever. They don’t need to be reminded inadvertently.

Get actively involved in helping by providing meals, picking up groceries, helping clean the house, or doing the lawn. Get a group together to make sure the grieving have the support they need to get through one of the most difficult things to endure.

Be sure to stay in touch for the long haul. The hardest part of death comes when everybody has returned to their normal routines and life. But grief and heartache for the person who has lost someone they love doesn’t end there. Be there for them.

If you’d like more guidance from Shelby Charter Township, MI funeral homes about helping someone who’s lost a loved one to suicide, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help. You can come by our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI, 48044 or you can contact us today at (586) 412-8999.