Category Archives: Grief

Do Dogs Grieve Over a Lost Loved One?

Psychology Today: Here to Help 

Do Dogs Grieve Over a Lost Loved One?

Can dogs comprehend the meaning of death and do they grieve because of it?

How to Cope When a Loved One Commits Suicide

It’s never an easy thing to lose a loved one. When someone takes their own life, however, it can present its own set of challenges. Here, we’ll discuss how to cope with this particularly difficult type of loss.

Clearing Up Some Myths About Suicide

Suicide is very commonly misunderstood. As a result, it has a large stigma that not only hinders the grieving process, but can keep people from seeking the help they need in the first place. Here are some facts you may or may not have known about suicide:

  • Mental illness can (but doesn’t always) increase suicide risk: Often times, we try to interpret suicide as a symptom of depression. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explains that this is sometimes the case. However, it is equally true that intense stress, traumatic events, substance abuse, or serious and chronic pain can lead someone to take their own life.
  • Anyone can be a victim of suicide: While the AFSP says that white males in particular are at a higher risk of suicide statistically, there 40,600 lives lost to suicide in 2012, which included men and women of all ethnicities and age ranges. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Suicide doesn’t peak during the holidays. Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is not an outstanding cause of suicide, which may be a bit of a comfort as the holidays approach. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is actually at its lowest rate in December. Suicide rates actually tend to spike during the Spring and Fall.

Suicide Loss Differs From Other Types of Death

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

Dealing with the loss when a loved one commits suicide isn’t a process that’s done in a day. In fact, it can go on for a long, long time. If you need more guidance or just an ear to listen to, here are some resources you can check out for more help:

  • The Mayo Clinic offers several articles guides with additional suggestions on how to cope here. Topics go beyond just the scope of suicide, but many resources relating to grief are applicable as well.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers guidance on understanding suicide, how to cope, and where you can find support groups in your area or online. You can also read stories from others who have suffered similar losses.
  • If you’re an educator or professional who is looking to help those in your organization learn about and deal with suicide loss, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a variety of kits and resources to help you support those under your care.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 in the US) or speak to someone you know. There are always alternatives and, despite how you may feel, it is possible to get the help you need. Speaking personally as someone who has considered and attempted suicide in the past, the darkest moments do not have to be the end. Please reach out.

Photos by Cathy Baird, Antoine K, Sander van der Wel.

Ways to deal with loss of a pet

Don’t pay attention to those who are unable to understand your loss and make comments such as “It’s only a pet.” Everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, so simply stand up and leave the room if they persist in ridiculing your situation. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you directly after your loss. Remind yourself that this stage will always be the hardest.

 

Ways to deal with loss of a pet