Losing a loved one to suicide is a kind of grief no one can prepare you for. The effects of suicide on family members and friends take many different forms and are rarely predictable in when it will be triggered or demanded to be felt.
You have to take life day by day, sometimes only moment by moment; whatever it takes to keep moving forward because you will, in fact, survive this. It might not feel like it right now, but it’s true.
In this article, we’re going to share with you the top five healing practices that are proven to help survivors of suicide loss ease their pain and aid them on their healing journey.
Ways to help your recovery
The pain of losing a loved one may never fully go away, but it is possible to heal and rebuild your life after this kind of devastating loss. There are different elements that assist in healing from your grief, and we’re going to share five of the most helpful practices with you now.
1. Join a support group
As powerful as the love of family and friends can be, you receive a different, but equally as powerful level of support from within a group. Not only are the conversations and stories shared within a monitored environment so everyone is and feels safe, but you meet people in all different phases of the recovery journey.
Joining a support group connects you to people who might be exactly in the place you are now and can fully relate, or who might be a year or so down the road and serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement. The different-but-empathetic perspectives can be incredibly validating and healing when trying to cope with the trauma of suicide.
2. Volunteer in the community
This very well may be the last thing you want to do, but it can be one of the most powerful tools in a healing journey. As painful as the death of a loved one is, life doesn’t stop moving — it doesn’t even slow down for a moment. Volunteering gets us out of our heads and our too-often destructive thoughts and opens our hearts to love again as we serve our neighbors.
Some of the ways you can get involved in your local community include—helping at soup kitchens, homeless or domestic violence shelters, civilian-based teaching (libraries are often looking for volunteers to serve as after-school tutors or teach English to international adults) and a club or religious organization.
3. Take care of yourself
Taking care of your body by fueling your gut health, brain health and the immune system is key to recovering from a variety of ailments. This can be done by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, clean proteins (think free-range chicken and grass-fed beef over hot dogs and lunchmeat) and healthy fats (such as avocados and real butter over hydrogenated and vegetable oils).
Take care of your mind by practicing good mental health care, which includes being patient with yourself, self-compassion and -kindness, using positive self-talk and practicing gratitude.
In addition, one of the most powerful ways to improve your mental and physical health is to regularly spend time outside in nature.
As important as it is to allow yourself to feel the full weight of your grief, it’s equally as important to allow yourself to release the grief when it starts to fade. Some people feel guilty about this for different reasons, but know that moving forwards with your life is good, it’s healthy and it’s okay.
You have the right to not feel responsible for your loved one’s death, and to free yourself of any guilt you’re feeling. Your life consists of more than this tragedy; your joy can be rebuilt in more than just one way. Give yourself permission to reach acceptance and embrace a new beginning.
5. Reach out for professional help
Losing a loved one to suicide can bring intense emotions we don’t always want or know how to express, as well as questions we likely will never receive answers to. It can be difficult to accept what has happened, and processing this level of grief can be so overwhelming that many people attempt to distract or numb themselves from it.
This avoidance typically only causes further damage, though, often resulting in the neglecting of basic self-care practices, as well as the development of behavioral disorders, mental or physical illness and even addiction.
Pain can blind us to unhealthy patterns we’ve created, sometimes until they reach the point that we need professional help to overcome them.
That’s what we’re here to help you do.
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