The recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have opened up a renewed conversation about suicide. These tragedies have the whole country reeling, and if you have a loved one who died by suicide, you may feel particularly impacted by recent media coverage. It’s difficult to grieve any loved one’s passing, but when their death is due to suicide, it’s normal to feel a complicated mix of emotions. It’s typical for the burden of this loss to weigh on you heavily for a long time, and it may leave its mark on all areas of your life.

Important Things to Know About Suicide

  • It’s not your fault. Loved ones often look for a reason why someone would choose suicide, and many blame themselves. The truth is, there is no one single reason that a person chooses suicide. One event or conversation doesn’t make the difference. Rather, people who choose suicide feel completely hopeless and that death is an escape from a life marked by despair. Even if you were not in a good place with your loved one when they died, you cannot blame yourself because so many factors were at play.
  • Your grief may have begun before their death. You may have been quite distressed before your loved one’s suicide because of their behavior. They may have been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, rehabs, and prisons, or otherwise living in chaos. They may have withdrawn from you and other friends or family so that you felt like they were gone before they even passed. It’s typical for people who have decided on suicide to begin isolating themselves weeks before the act.
  • The suicide note is only a snapshot of their state of mind. In general, suicide notes are left to explain the despair behind the act, blame someone, give away belongings, alleviate responsibility someone might feel, or say goodbye to loved ones. You may hope that this note will explain why this happened, but ultimately, a suicide note doesn’t provide this answer. It is simply one snapshot of how they were feeling at the time of the suicide and it does not necessarily reflect their reasoning for planning and ultimately following through with the act.
  • Not everyone who dies by suicide was mentally ill. It’s common for the people left behind to wonder if their loved one was silently struggling with a mental illness. However, just because someone chooses suicide, doesn’t mean that they were mentally unwell. People who die by suicide tend to be perfectionists with low self-esteem. It’s common for people to be going through a major life change and fear they will not have the ability to live up to expectations, whether their own or someone else’s.

How You Can Cope After A Loved One Dies By Suicide

When your loved one dies by suicide, you may feel many unexpected emotions. On top of sadness and grief, you might feel extreme anger, shame, guilt, or anxiety. Some people even feel suicidal themselves. It’s important to seek help when grieving so you can identify, embrace, and cope with your feelings. Contact New Transitions Counseling Center for grief counseling in Palatine.