Facing the future

There may be days further down the line when it is especially difficult to deal with what has happened. These might include the birthday of the person who died – and your own birthday; the anniversary of the day they died – and maybe of the funeral; Father’s Day or Mother’s Day; and occasions such as Christmas. Sometimes people say the first time these come around is the worst, others find it isn’t until future anniversaries that it hits home that the person won’t be able to share these days again. These days will always have a special resonance and it may help to find a way of marking them. This may be something as simple as lighting a candle or visiting a place that has a connection for you to the person who died. Or it could be bringing out the photo album and telling stories while eating their favourite food and listening to their favourite music. Perhaps take time to share special memories or stories of your loved one with family or friends who care. And at any time, be gentle on yourself – give yourself the time and space to grieve.

Grief over time

We’re not going to tell you how you should grieve; if anyone tries to do so, you can remind them that everyone grieves differently. Grieving for someone has a definite start point but no definitive endpoint. The truth is, you will always carry what has happened inside you. You may find that some days all you can think about is the loss and some days you are able to do some tasks or think a little about your next steps in life. You may switch between these on an hourly basis: this is natural. Sometimes it can feel as if grief takes over. But people bereaved by suicide report that one day, perhaps against expectations, you may find that there is space for something else – a plan, a hope. And one day, maybe there is a little more space. It isn’t so much that your grief is growing smaller; it’s that you are growing around the grief. There will be days when on waking up you will forget what has happened – and feel guilty for having done so. Then there will be days when, for a while, you can laugh with a friend, enjoy a programme on TV or admire a view. And one day, you will find that you remember and think more about the life of the person who died than about how they died. You won’t forget that, but it will seem less vivid than who they were and what you shared with them while they were alive.

Ongoing support

As time goes on, you may find that you wish to access support in a different way. If you didn’t originally feel you wanted to access support in the days or weeks after your loss, you may feel wish to access it later on. Or over time you may feel you want to access less professional support but instead, attend peer to peer, support groups, speak with others that may be experiencing similar feelings to you. Alternatively, you may continue to access the same support you have been since the first few days of your loss. In whichever case, often suicide bereavement support services can support you in varying ways and are happy to discuss with you what support you may find useful during various stages of your grief. You can also search for different services in and around your local area here. You can also find more about the local peer-to-peer SOBS groups that may operate in your area here.