Bereavement due to suicide

Informal support - Family and friends

Those bereaved by suicide have many sources of support (see ‘Help and support from professionals’, ‘Help from Cruse Bereavement Care’, ‘Self-help groups, conferences, helplines’, ‘Help and information through the internet’ and ‘Support for children and young people’). Many people used one or more of these.

Some people we talked to, especially those bereaved many years ago, said that they relied on friends, family and colleagues after their loved one had died. Years ago professional support was not easily available and support groups were hard to find. Some of those bereaved more recently also preferred to talk to family or friends, rather than professional counsellors or others involved in support networks.

Some people received tremendous support from family or friends. Bob, for example, said that when Darren died his neighbours cooked them meals and did their shopping. When Dominique died Lucreta’s friends cared for all her physical needs and helped her overcome her fears.
After her daughter Rose died Susan found that Rose’s friends worked incredibly hard to find support for her. She thinks they were the ones who gave her literature about bereavement.
 
Kavita’s mother received many visitors after Kavita’s brother died. They called constantly. Kavita helped her mother to receive them.
After Jenny’s husband died, Jenny made it clear that she wanted to see her friends. They phoned her and met her for lunch and talked about David, which Jenny found enormously helpful. David’s friends were supportive too.
 
Arthur said that one particular friend came to stay immediately after Leon died and that she really brought him back to sanity.
After Amanda’s son died she also found that friends helped her with her grief. Now she finds it especially helpful to talk to a friend who has experienced grief herself. They do normal things together, like retail therapy, and they laugh together. Others also felt that they could gain particular support from talking to people who had been bereaved in a similar way.
 
When Michael’s friend died, Michael found it very helpful to talk to other friends who had been bereaved. Together they re-lived what had happened and shared memories of times they had spent with their mutual friend.
When his wife died Stephen had great support from family and friends. People stayed with him for a few weeks. He found it helped to talk endlessly about what had happened. He went over the same ground again and again, but each time the story changed slightly.
Close friends and family did not always live in the same area. Some people had moved house shortly before they had been bereaved, and so had no local network of friends. Colin and Barbara, for example, largely supported each other when their son Matt died.
 
Family and friends did not always give the much needed support. Some people we talked to said that initially friends were very supportive but then gradually wanted to get on with their own lives and seemed to expect them to recover and feel better much too quickly. Some people also felt that others blamed them for what had happened. Communication with family members or old friends sometimes broke down. Other people sometimes seemed to avoid contact or find it hard to talk about suicide. This may have been because they were uncertain what to say or how to behave (see ‘Other people’s reactions’).

Last reviewed January 2015.

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