Are you going through the emotional pain of a suicide of a loved one? Do you find that engaging in normal tasks has become difficult because you have been faced with the suicide of a loved one? To help learn what you can do to better deal with the suicide of a loved one, I have interviewed licensed therapist Bob Brewster.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a master’s-level licensed professional counselor (LPC) with a private practice in Addison, Texas., in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I specialize in grief and loss psychotherapy, education, and support. As a volunteer, I have facilitated support groups for survivors of suicide.”
What are common thoughts and feelings experienced after a loved one commits suicide?
“Some common types of feelings and thoughts are shock, denial, anger, guilt, hopelessness and helplessness. Everyone’s grief is different, but some common questions I hear from clients are: “How could I have kept this from happening?”; “Why didn’t he/she ask for help?”; and “How could he/she leave me alone like this?” Some survivors have their own suicidal ideation. They may express thoughts of wanting to join their loved one, so friends and family members need to watch and listen for suicidal behavior and statements.”
“Some clients tell me they feel like they are going crazy. Thoughts and feelings change rapidly, especially in the first few weeks after the suicide. Some clients struggle with feelings of shame and fear social rejection due to the nature of the death. Others may have to deal with law enforcement, adding complexity to the grieving process.”
What type of help is available for someone who is dealing with the suicide of a loved one?
“Some one-on-one therapy may be covered by an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if the survivor is employed, or by health insurance with a co-pay. Medicare may cover some counseling. Most communities have support groups that are run by non-profit organizations, churches, hospitals, and other types of businesses. Some support groups are free and others charge a nominal fee. Pastors, rabbis, and other clergy are good sources of information and may be able to connect you with other survivors.”
“For example, in the Dallas area, the non-profit Suicide and Crisis Center (www.sccenter.org) offers support groups facilitated by trained volunteers, some of whom are also survivors of suicide. National resources include the American Association of Suicedology (www.suicidology.com), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Suicide Resources (www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide), and the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (wwwspanusa.org). For emergencies, call the national hotline, 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433).”
What are some things a person can do to help him or herself recover from the suicide of a loved one?
“Acknowledge the loss and talk about it with friends, family members, and co-workers you trust and with whom you feel comfortable sharing such personal information. Write the deceased person a letter and start a journal. Writing about the huge emotions stemming from a suicide helps some people. I suggest making time each day to allow yourself you cry. Allow yourself to think about the loss, but not all the time. Take some time off from grief to give yourself a rest. Grief work is exhausting and makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else, such as work.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who has lost a loved one due to suicide?
“Stay close to your support network. If you don’t think you have one, write down all the people who you can depend on for support and categorize them in your own way. For example, people you know you can talk to about anything, people who would be happy to help with mundane tasks such as errands and transportation, and people you like to be around for fun and relaxation. If you really don’t have a support network, join a support group and talk to other survivors of suicide.”
“Keep a healthy balance of grief work and normal activities. Don’t try to dwell on grief 24 hours a day. Spend some time, but not all, working, socializing, and trying to cope with the changes in your life. You need to do both to eventually relocate the relationship with the loved one you lost and reinvest in life when you are ready. Above all, treat yourself kindly and patiently. You have suffered acute emotional trauma and your life with never be the same. Give yourself time to work through your grief.”
Thank you Bob for the interview. If you would like more information about Bob Brewster check out his website on http://www.brewstercounseling.com/.