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Losing a loved one and dealing with grief is never easy, and the grief process after a loss to suicide is very complex. The shock and grief that comes with hearing the news can be so overwhelming, especially if you were close with the person.
If you have lost a loved one this way, here are some things to remember that you may find helpful when finding comfort after a suicide:
It’s okay not to be okay
Death brings about a whirlwind of emotions, and you may not fully understand exactly what you feel about what just happened. That’s normal. Remember, different people grieve differently, so give yourself permission to go through all your complex emotions.
Grieving a loss by suicide is impossible to imagine until you have gone through it. You jump through the stages of grief so randomly and quickly and it feels never-ending. As said by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in grief and loss psychology, “The reality is that you will grief forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one, but learn to live with it. You will heal and rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same.”
Grief looks different on everyone. There are no rules, no timelines. You are allowed to be mad, sad, nostalgic, for as long and as many times as you need. And it is okay if you are not okay.
It’s not your fault
Many of those who lose their loved ones to suicide often feel guilty about what happened. They may feel that they’re partly to blame for the individual’s death, and that they could have done something to keep the tragedy from happening.
If that’s how you feel, please know that this is a totally normal feeling, but that your loved one would want you to know that it is not your fault. Suicide is death caused by illness of the mind; it is the final symptom. If your loss was caused by cancer, you wouldn’t be blaming yourself for it.
Sometimes, there is no other way out of the pain in their minds. They have a genuine feeling that their loved ones and the world would be better off without them and that they were a burden, no matter how much love they were given or gave to others. They sometimes cannot see through the fog of their negative thoughts. Just know that no matter what internal or external struggles they had in life, their heart, soul, and most importantly their mind is finally at peace.
Don’t hold it all in
In many cultures, suicide is largely considered taboo, compounding the complexity of grief that the bereaved has to go through. For this reason, some people find it difficult to express their emotions and instead try to hold their feelings in.
It can do more harm than good if you try to deny the grief you feel. So if you find it difficult to share your feelings with other people, why not try keeping a journal? Putting your emotions on paper can help you express the things you probably are not comfortable expressing to someone else. It also allows you to gain the closure you need as you write down all the things you wish you could have told your loved one before they passed. Try to also write and remember fun times and stories with them, as you can use this journal as a tool in the future to see how far you have come in your grief journey, and also to remember them with a smile on their face.
Take care of yourself
It can all be too easy to wallow in your grief after the loss of your loved one. You may want to drown your worries with alcohol, or numb the pain with drugs. However badly you may want to resort to these means, remember that you should take care of yourself despite the depth of your grief. By keeping yourself healthy, you allow your body to heal itself.
-Stay active. Whether it be physically, or mentally. Keeping yourself occupied is a good way to avoid getting inside your own head and negative thoughts. Physical activity, if possible, is a great way to release anger, stress, and feel accomplished. But remember, if the only thing you do today is getting out of bed, that is okay too.
-Set time aside for yourself. After loss, there are many people reaching out, stopping by, and checking on you. Don’t push away the help, but it is okay to ask for a break. Try to take a few minutes every day to center yourself, find a moment of silence, and remember a good memory with your lost loved one. You can’t fit everything into a day, and this is a journey that will take time to heal. And that is okay.
-Celebrate Successes. Take inventory of wins, whether they are big or small. Grief is not a formula, and some days you will feel ready to go out and be with others and accomplish tasks, while other days you will not want to get up, get dressed or talk to anyone. If you are having a bad day, make it a point to get out of bed, make your bed, wash your face, and change your clothes. A small success is better than none, and you might feel a new sense of strength for the day ahead.
-Focus on what you can control. Focus on situations and steps you are comfortable in and can control if you need to excuse yourself. Stay connected with friends, family, community, and actively manage your mental health.
Reach out for support
After a loss, it is easy to try to care for everyone else and make sure they are doing okay, but remember to take notice of your own mental health.
When you’re ready, and when you feel that the time is right, do reach out to someone you can trust. Open up to loved ones or a support group. Avoid bottling up emotions, do not be afraid to reach out to loved ones without apologizing for needing help, and/or listen to your loved ones without judgement if they are the ones reaching out to you.
If you're looking for a grief support group you could count on, we encourage you to try GriefShare. It is a network of 15,000+ churches worldwide equipped to offer grief support groups. It’s a nondenominational program designed to support individuals like you through this tough time, and it features biblical concepts to help you deal with your grief. Locally, the group is held at Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in Mifflinburg, and they are currently holding weekly groups. Visit our website for up to date information.
Project Semicolon is a nonprofit organization that advocates mental health wellness and an anti-suicide initiative. It was founded by a daughter who lost her father to suicide, and eventually lost her own life the same way. The semicolon represents the idea that "a semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life" More information can be found at and has many online support groups for specific mental battles, whether it is depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
Additionally, a nonprofit inspired by Project Semicolon, IGY6 (Meaning, I got your 6, or I got your back), was created specifically to support combat veterans, and first responders. An average of 22 veterans per day are lost to suicide.
If you need to talk to someone immediately, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 741741.
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Check in on others
If you know someone who has experienced a loss to suicide, and/or seems to not be themselves lately, reach out. Mental illness does not discriminate. You may know someone who acts completely normal and does not show any bit of depression, ADHD, mental illness or internal battles, yet they could be begging for help inside.
It is okay to be direct with asking someone if they are okay. Research shows that asking someone if they are suicidal will not “put the idea into their head”, but they will be relieved if someone cares enough to notice they are not well and reaches out. Also, assume you are the only one who notices and will say something. Trust your gut. Some comfortable ways to ask someone if they are okay would be, “How are you, really?”, “I care a lot about you and wanted to check in”, and “It seems like you may be going through a lot. How is your mental health?” For additional guidance, support is available at afsp.org/realconvo
Remember, you made it through every tough moment before now. You can make it through this one too. You are important. You are loved. Don’t give up. Help is available. Reach out to friends and family, online support groups, or the numerous resources available that have been linked to this blog.
We hope you found the tips above helpful. If you need someone to talk to, our staff at Roupp Funeral Home would be more than willing to assist you. Reach out to us at 570-966-2402, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September is Suicide Awareness Month. It’s real, it happens every day and it’s 100% preventable. Please share this article with a family member or a friend who may be going through the pain of losing someone through suicide or may be suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide.