After SuicideWhat To Say
For those who want to reach out to someone who has just lost a loved one to suicide here are guidelines to help.
Just love them. Everyone mourns differently. It’s likely, you’ll want to fix their pain by correcting some of the things they say they believe or feelings they express. DON’T FIX THEM! Validate everything even when you know it’s not true by saying something like, “I know other parents who have lost children to suicide who have felt the same way.” Even if you haven’t, I promise you it’s true.
- Walk gently.
- Everyone mourns differently.
- Be aware of their needs.
- They may want visitors. They may not.
- Gifts at the doorstep are always touching.
- Money for funeral expenses always needed.
- Messaging: Send short love notes. Send messages that don’t require a response. Don’t expect replies.
- Send a note with a favorite personal experience with the deceased.
- Don’t ask what you can do. The only thing they want is their loved one back. Anything and everything else doesn’t matter.
- If you do visit, let them talk. Sitting in silence is okay.
- It’s okay to say the deceased’s name. Their name is precious to them.
- Don’t ask by what means their loved one used to end their life.
- If you know them well, hold their hand. Touch is powerful.
- Remember, nothing makes sense to them.
- If you bring food, do so in disposable containers. Make sure you know if they are allergic to anything. Frozen meals are good too but even putting something in the oven will be difficult if not Impossible.
- By all means, do not tell them you understand because you don’t unless you’ve had a loved one die from suicide. Your love is enough.
- Don’t tell them to get back on a schedule. They don’t even know how to set the alarm. Everything, everything is disrupted.
- Don’t judge their loved one by calling them cowardly or selfish. They aren’t.
- Don’t tell them that their loved one wouldn’t want them to be sad. Oh for heaven’s sake don’t go there! You don’t know what their loved one wants. They are faced with the most painful reality that they don’t know what their loved one wanted either. The last thing they need to hear from you is that you know their loved one better than they did. They’ll get there, eventually.
- Don’t tell them that God will forgive them. It’s just insulting.
- Don’t tell them their loved one is in a better place. All they want is for them to be with them.
- Don’t tell them everything will be okay. All they know is now. And now is not okay.
- They are in shock. Thankfully.
- Do their dishes. And if you know them well, do their laundry.
- Allow them to cry.
- They have the hideous task of planning a funeral. The timing is awful. Yet, it has to be done. Offer rides and support.
- Just love them.
- Don’t go away. They will need you in weeks, months, and years.
- Be gentle.