Bereavement due to traumatic death
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.
After Alice died Alex did not seek counselling. He spent time talking to close friends rather...
Friends were a great support to Brenda after her son died in intensive care. A friend also helped...
And in the hospital or afterwards, would you have, you or your husband, would you have liked to talk to family members who had been through something similar or a counsellor or someone from the hospital, or not from the hospital?
No, me personally not, no I think my husband, he’s more of a private person and would talk to somebody that he really knew rather than a complete stranger he’s not so good on sort of complete strangers. We were offered every single bit of help and to come back and talk to anybody that we need. The offer was there, there was an awful lot of support if we needed it. But I didn’t feel the need to talk to a complete stranger. I knew that I had my friends.
Has your husband been able to cope as well, like in the ways you’ve been thinking?
No, because he doesn’t open up and talk. I make him sometimes. We sit down at the table and have a meal, and I try to remember the things that we’ve done with our son and I look across the table and there’s just tears streaming down his face. As I say, we are all different but he does give much more concern so I can’t, by being stronger, it’s the way I’ve got through it because I’ve got a purpose. I’ve got a purpose for looking out for him and trying to take care of him. And I know I can call on anybody, any of my friends and family, I can have a real good moan to a girl friend and they’ll listen to me and then we can go out and have a cup of coffee and talk about you know other things. But my husband hasn’t really got that soulmate and that’s what I think is very important, really important that you’ve got somebody to talk to. He has spoken to a friend of ours who does a little bit of counselling. She’s not terribly qualified but she’s just one of these natural people that has a flair for situations like this. And he finds comfort in her and he will start talking but not for very long, not for very long.
After Tom died Maurice and Jane supported each other. Maurice found he could talk to colleagues...
You said you went back to work, how did work colleagues handle this, did they know what had happened?
Yes, oh well yes, I’ve already said that one work colleague told me actually what had happened in detail because he’d been listening to the police radios. Yes the colleagues were very good, the colleagues yes, were very good yes. When I say that they were supportive I suppose. They were willing to talk about it, well some of them were, not the youngsters, we had, I was working with the youngsters and older people. It was generally the older people who would talk about it not the youngsters, they, they, they were not willing to talk about it.
Although in fact we were, I’d probably told them, I did find I was telling people what had happened, and whether they liked it or not.
And then one saw their responses, so people yes the work people were good, but work was, work was good, I’m, I’m fortunate in that I enjoy the work I do, did, and I think that that was, very, I was very lucky to that extent, and probably that’s why it was much harder for Jane who was not, who although she was in fact, again, well yes she had her horses, and I think her horses helped her too, as occupations somehow, other occupational therapy.
Did you seek support anywhere else?
I didn’t no.
You didn’t have any formal counselling?
No, I had no formal counselling; probably you know I’m a bit reluctant and a bit cynical about counselling.
Friends from church looked after Lucreta for a while after Dominique died. They invited Lucreta...
Well life after suicide, I began to write a book, “Life after Suicide. A mother’s inner cry.” And the days of going to work, ah, they were hell. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t live on my own, I couldn’t sleep on my own, I became a chronic fear, I became ill, my whole life came to an end, I couldn’t go out on my own, my friends from church who I call my adopted parents they, they took me in and, I slept with her in the bed [crying], at night, it’s all right, I slept with her and she comforted me and…
This is a friend from church?
Yeah, and the church, I’m a Christian and the church helped me, I lived with them for a while, I couldn’t live on my own, and I began to write because the counsellor in my work place she encouraged me to write and when she was leaving, so I had to go to work every day, so I lived with them and they would look after me in the morning and push me out the house, and it was really good because it meant, they, they, they really did that to, to, to get me to continue with my life.
In South Asian culture it is normal for many visitors to call at the house after someone dies....
And then you know …, everyday went on like that in slow motion. I used to go to my mum … everything was slow motion. It was … we’d sit and have these talks about my brother every evening at my mum’s house, I remember this. And they were so calm, the talks were so, so calm. And people kept coming to the house. I remember loads and loads of visitors because the sort of Asian culture is that sort of … when someone dies people come and visit constantly, you know, for days on end really. And it was really difficult. I remember my mum sort of saying she finds it really hard to receiving people and can I help. And it’s you know.
So you weren’t going to work at that time?
No I remember I was off, off work for two and half … was it something like two months, two and half months.
It’s when the people stopped coming, going to my mum’s, that’s when things felt really odd. It felt, I think we felt alone then because people had stopped or slowed down I should say. You’d get the odd visitor who hadn’t heard, or just heard and would come. I mean, initially the visitors were a problem because it was constant and it was tiring. But you sort of get used to that and it’s like a support.
Many friends were supportive but one particular friend helped Arthur get through the terrible...
Did you get any professional help yourself for your grief? Was there anybody else you could turn to?
Not really. What I did find though … oh there was, I’m sorry and this is something that I’m glad you brought up now. After Leon’s death, I was really in quite a nervous state myself. I finished up having a week in the hospital where Leon was taken to. But I had a very good lady friend in Belgium, who I rang immediately after Leon’s death and she came over straight away. And she stayed with me at the time. And I will say this, quite honestly that [my friend] got me through Leon’s death. She brought me back to sanity when I felt that, after a week in that hospital, I was disturbed. I was very disturbed by Leon’s death.
And [my friend] was the person who got me through it.
Talking to other friends who had been bereaved by his friends suicide was an affirming...
Was there any opportunity to meet with other people who’d been bereaved, or didn’t you look into that?
I didn’t look into that actually, no. As I said, I knew lots of other people who knew the person who killed himself, and talking to them about it was a great, …was a large part I think of what helped me. Partly because they knew him so we could actually discuss, you know, the actual details of what happened and our memories of him and, you know, like shared, we had a shared history and re-living that was obviously quite a meaningful thing. But also, seeing how other people were reacting was also, was a useful thing as well. I think, as I’ve said, you know, I just felt generally happier when I was with other people than not, and I think that was not, that also was the case when I was with other people who had been bereaved by my friends suicide. Some of whom, you know, were taking it possibly even harder than I was, and in some ways talking to them and feeling that, you know, I was perhaps the stronger one of us was also quite an affirming experience too.
So you felt you were helping them?
Yes. And that was… if felt that, I don’t know, I guess that’s almost like a normal thing in life to do, perhaps that was a, a bit of normality that, you know that was something that brought a bit of almost normality back into my life again as well.
Family and friends offered tremendous support after Stephen's wife died. He found it helped to...
Did you have anybody to help you with the children, or talk to them and be with them to start with and stay with you?
It’s funny, I have a Nigerian friend of mine and in Nigeria apparently if someone dies then I don’t think it matters how they’ve, how they’ve died, if someone has a bereavement then someone, culturally someone must stay with them, they must never be, they mustn’t be on their own for at least a month, for the first, for the first month, and that’s sort of the way it turned out. (…) I had fantastic support actually, you know my brother came over from Australia for a couple of weeks to spend some time with me, and a very good friend, who came down from up north, spent a week with me initially, and than came back a couple of months later. And I’m very lucky, I mean, I, consider myself lucky in, in a lot of ways.
Because you had support?
Oh so many ways, I mean because I had support, because I wasn’t forced financially to go back to work, I felt that, you know, I had nine months, I had nine months off, pretty much without working, and that for me was a fairly essential part of the process. I can’t imagine having to go back to work two or three weeks later, as I know often is the case with people (…). I wouldn’t have known where to start to be honest, well I probably would’ve done like most people do, would’ve probably sort of buried most of what, what went on and I feel like that period was a huge…; you know, if I was advising anybody it would certainly be to take as much time off as you absolutely possibly can, you know you need space and you need time, and going back to work just sort of, just burying yourself in something else, that’s not my way anyway, not my way.
So it helped you to interact with other people as well then?
Yes, I mean I can talk forever, I like talking and you know that was very important, that process of just talking endlessly, I mean you know you go over the same ground again and again.
But each time it’s slightly different you know and you can’t talk enough about it really, you know. And you know every different person you speak to is, something, something changes slightly.
There was a point at one stage where I felt that the story was sort of wearing a bit thin, I remember that feeling of like sort of, you know you’ve said it, when you’ve said something so many times, a story starts to sort of, well it just starts to wear a bit thin, it starts to sort of lose, whether, whether it’s losing reality or I’m not quite sure what that process is but it just, but that’s gone now, now I mean I’m happy to sort of talk about it.
Last reviewed July 2017.