Lived Experience Insights | Bereaved

Honest and real responses to a range of personal questions about suicide from people that have lived the experience, with the aim of helping those that may be living a shared experience.

Bereaved by suicide

  • Be there. Be there for so much longer than you think they will need you and be prepared to talk about the person they’ve lost if they want to and sit in silence if that’s what they need to do.
  • Provide practical support, particularly in the beginning – meals, housework, play with the kids, just help them keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Sit with them, help them to learn to live through support and companionship and don’t set a time limit.
  • Be with them and do not try to fix what cannot be fixed. You cannot put any silver lining on such a thing so treat us with respect and do not try to.
  • Be comfortable with silence. People need silence when experiencing deep pain and grief. Allow them time and silence to process their feelings. interruptions such as handing a tissue disturbs the person from trying to raise their painful feelings into thoughts, to then be able to express in language. Be patient. Don’t fill the space. Sit in silence. your caring presence is healing.
  • Listening, refraining from offering solutions where they aren’t required. Listen without relating it back to your experience. paraphrase, and sit with someone in their emotions without giving in to the automatic feeling to fix it “humour, dismissing it”.
  • Give them time to process what has happened. I was very sudden and unexpected for me. Provide regular touch points to listen or provide support. What does provide support mean? For me it was reassuring me that it wasn’t my responsibility to know they were going to die by suicide.
  • Let them feel what they need to feel there is no right or wrong feeling. It can change all the time. Remind them they did not do what they did to hurt you.
  • It is like nothing else. The feelings are shock, deep sadness and panic and inability to comprehend what has happened.
  • At the beginning it feels like your soul is crying, like someone has reached and ripped out part of your heart and your life has been shattered into millions of tiny pieces that won’t ever go back together again fully.
  • Over time as the intensity of pain dulls, I’ve been left with an ever present emptiness – it’s like a mist always surrounds and just dims the colour from life.
  • The pain was so great that you thought the only way out was to join them. The loneliness so deep you could never see a way out. It never leaves you and can be as raw as the moment it happened years down the track.
  • Initially the emotions are all consuming and ever present. Over time the reality of what has happened is not constantly with you. Somehow each time the memory returns it seems easier to bear, although the loss remains.
  • Guilt regret anger sadness and questioning why.
  • Confusing, difficult to process, hurtful, sad. Wanting to know why but also knowing I will never really know.
  • It is such a strange feeling as you think it would not happen to you but when it does you can only hope they have found peace and a note is left so you can find some comfort in what they thought/believed ie what their reality was.
  • Check in with the people who are part of your story and see how they feel about it, if there are any parts of the story they feel need to remain private relating to the person who has been lost.
  • Find someone you trust to start to talk and explore what it is that you actually want to share and why.
  • Just start writing and see where it takes you – let someone you trust know so you can talk with them about things that come up for you – it will be emotional.
  • Start to tell it. It will grow and evolve over time.
  • Do what’s best for you. I found that even just speaking out-loud while alone helped me.
  • It’s so good when you find your tribe – people who have experienced suicide bereavement. Try to find a local support group, even if you don’t want to go, they might have a newsletter you can read and connect that way.
  • Listen to or read the stories of others who have shared their story.
  • Reach out and find the right supports. There are people who get it and will be there with you.
  • Grow Australia has been fantastic for my mental health. Friendships I have made are lasting.
  • Focus on self care, allow yourself to process what has happened and tell yourself the emotions you are feeling are normal. Talk to the others impacted by the same loss, support each other if you can, it’s also okay if you can’t do that – no expectations. There are lots of support groups out there, reach out to them when you are ready. Start with your GP.
  • No different to the way you talked yesterday. Don’t make them more uncomfortable with your uncomfortable. Be prepared to just be with them.
  • Listen and provide mutuality. Build trust.
  • Just keep letting them know you are there for them when they are ready. Arrange a coffee or walk or something to connect but don’t push them to discuss, just leave the door open if they want to. If they are really struggling they may need a stronger level of support – maybe their GP.
  • I can write, or create art about my experience, maybe even choose to share it – or speak about my pain and journey to help others to heal.
  • Volunteering on the Warmline. To facilitate a support group.
Date Published
September 28, 2022
bereaved , lived experience , lived experience insights
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