In the wake of a loved one\u2019s death by suicide, families often disintegrate, unable to deal with the intense grief and the difficult, painful, and often unanswerable question of \u201cWhy?\u201d For every suicide, it is estimated that at least six persons are affected. These include family members, co-workers, neighbors, classmates and close friends. Beyond grief and the fruitless search for answers, survivors of suicide also grapple with crippling emotions. Emotions can Derail Suicide Survivors\u2019 Healing The waves of emotions that flow through the minds of suicide survivors can be so devastating that they cause the person to no longer be able to function. Life just seems to stop for them, now that their loved one has died by suicide. These emotions may occur singly, or in clusters, come fleetingly or stay for lengthy periods of time. They all need to be dealt with in order for healing to begin. \u2022 Shock \u2013 Most survivors of suicide feel shock as an immediate reaction, along with physical and emotional numbness. This reaction is the temporary way for the person to screen out the pain of what just happened, to allow time to comprehend the facts, and take things in smaller and more manageable steps. \u2022 Anger \u2013 Loved ones and family members often express anger, or suppress it, at the waste of human life. Anger is another grief response, and may be directed toward the person who died by suicide, to themselves, another family member, or a therapist. \u2022 Guilt \u2013 Following death by suicide, surviving family members rack their brains trying to think of what clues they missed, how they may have been able to prevent the suicide. This self-blame includes things they said (or didn\u2019t say), their failure to express love or concern, things they planned to do (but never got around to) \u2013 anything and everything in a never-ending kaleidoscope. \u2022 Fear \u2013 If one family member committed suicide, perhaps another will make an attempt. The surviving family member may even fear he or she is in jeopardy. \u2022 Relief \u2013 When the deceased died by suicide after a protracted illness filled with intense physical pain, long decline into self-destructive behavior, or ongoing mental anguish, surviving family members may feel a sense of relief. Finally, the loved one\u2019s suffering is over. \u2022 Depression \u2013 Nothing seems worth an effort anymore to many suicide survivors. This manifests itself in sleeplessness or disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, fatigue, and loss of joy in life. Grief experts say that most of these intense feelings will diminish over time, although there may be some residual feelings that may never truly go away. In addition, some questions may forever remain unanswered. Surviving Suicide It sounds trite, but it\u2019s true. You can survive suicide. It is, however, a long and often painful (and painfully difficult) journey. Here are some strategies to help individuals survive suicide: \u2022 Stay connected with other family members \u2013 The last thing you need is to be isolated and alone. You need other people at this time more than any other. Contact with others is particularly important in the first six months following a loved one\u2019s suicide. For others, maintaining contact with others will take longer, almost as a lifeline of support. In any case, other family members are in most need of contact, even if they express a wish to be left alone. Not everyone grieves in the same way. Some people are unable to open themselves up and say what they feel. They may need more time to be able to offer you any consolation, but this doesn\u2019t mean they don\u2019t desperately need it themselves. Talk openly with other family members about your feelings about the suicide and ask them for help. But only do so if you feel ready to speak about it. \u2022 Give children special attention - Children, especially, may have a more difficult time with the intense emotions they are experiencing. It is important to remind them that these are normal grief reactions. They need, above all, to know that you still love them and will be there for them always. Share how you feel with them, and encourage them to speak from their heart when they are ready. \u2022 Holidays are stressful times - Be aware that holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special days are very stressful times for suicide survivors. Plan to meet the family\u2019s emotional needs \u2013 as well as your own \u2013 during these times. How do you Survive Suicide? Beyond staying connected with other family members, it\u2019s important that suicide survivors reach out and get help. There\u2019s only so much an individual can work out in his or her head without professional help. Fortunately, help is available in a number of ways. These include psychological grief counseling, individual or group meetings, self-help groups, books and literature. Websites for Suicide Survivors Listed here are a few websites that may be helpful for suicide survivors: \u2022 For Suicide Survivors - \/\/forsuicidesurvivors.com\/index.html, devoted to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one by suicide. \u2022 Suicide Survivors.org - \/\/www.suicidesurvivors.org\/, survivors of suicide help and information, Judy Raphael Kletter. \u2022 Survivors of Suicide - \/\/www.survivorsofsuicide.com\/index.html \u2022 Surviving Suicide - \/\/www.survivingsuicide.com\/cope.htm, provided by the surviving suicide support group of the Central Christian Church. Suicide Support Groups The following link to suicide support groups comes from Suicide.org, \/\/www.suicide.org\/suicide-support-groups.html. Click on the state to be directed to a list of suicide survivor support groups in that state. There is also a link to suicide support groups in Canada. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) also has a directory of suicide support groups for the United States and International locations. Survival Suggestions Those who have been through the process are often the best sources for survival suggestions. The following tips are a common theme among various self-help groups, grief counseling and treatment sites. \u2022 It takes time to survive. You may not think you will survive, but you will. \u2022 Lean on your faith to help get you through this crisis. If you aren\u2019t affiliated with any specific religious group, do meditation and bring forth your own higher power to help you heal. \u2022 Laughter is very healing. Be willing to laugh with others and at yourself. It will help you progress. \u2022 Getting past your feelings of anger, shock, fear, guilt, relief, and depression is necessary \u2013 but it doesn\u2019t mean you forget. You do need to \u201cwear out\u201d all those feelings, however, before you can begin to heal. Allow yourself to do so. \u2022 \u201cWhy\u201d is always important. Give yourself permission to find the answers until you are satisfied. If you can only obtain partial answers, and that is all that will be forthcoming, be satisfied with that so you can move on. \u2022 Acknowledge that all your intense emotions are perfectly normal reactions to grief. \u2022 Take it one day at a time, one moment or one emotion at a time. This way, you will be less likely to be overwhelmed. \u2022 When you need to talk, call someone. And, be a good listener to others who need to talk as well. \u2022 You need time to heal. Don\u2019t expect this to happen in a prescribed period of time. It\u2019s different for everyone. \u2022 Don\u2019t be around people who try to tell you how to feel. Only you know how you feel, and you\u2019ll progress at your own pace through your healing process. \u2022 Expect that there will be setbacks. Not every day will be a step forward. Understanding that will help you get through these times. \u2022 Put off any major decisions, if you can. In the immediate aftermath of suicide is not the time to make important life decisions. \u2022 It is okay \u2013 and recommended \u2013 to get professional help to deal with your grief. \u2022 Recognize and understand the pain that your family members and others are going through at this time. It\u2019s not all about you and your feelings. Others are suffering as well. \u2022 Learn how to say no. Set limits for yourself. \u2022 Be patient with yourself \u2013 and with others. Not everyone understands what you\u2019re going through. Similarly, other family members and loved ones need to process grief at their own pace. Your patience with them will be appreciated and is a loving gesture. \u2022 Accept that you will never be the same again. But this does not mean that you will never enjoy life again. You can, and you will. Recommended Books for Suicide Survivors Although the pain you and your family feel over the loss of your loved one to suicide is personal and unique, it helps to know that others have come through a similar experience. That\u2019s why counseling and group support is so important. As an adjunct to personal interaction with other suicide survivors and counselors, then, reading books on the subject is also therapeutic. It is especially helpful for when you are alone, late at night, or when your grief seems insurmountable. Children have very different needs than adults. For this reason, parents may wish to read how other parents helped their grieving children. Here are some recommended books, but they are by no means all-inclusive. They are featured on the website For Suicide Survivors: \u2022 What Children Need When They Grieve: The Four Essentials: Routine, Love, Honesty and Security, by Julia Wilcox Rathkey. \u2022 Helping Children Grieve: When Someone They Love Dies (Revised Edition), by Theresa Huntley. \u2022 Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide For Grownups, by William C. Kroen and Pamela Espeland. \u2022 Guiding Your Child Through Grief, by James P. Emswiler and Mary Ann Emswiler. \u2022 Grieving Child, by Helen Fitsgerald. \u2022 Breaking the Silence: A Guide to Help Children with Complicated Grief-Suicide, Homicide, AIDS, Violence and Abuse, by Linda Goldman. Books for children about suicide include: \u2022 After A Parent\u2019s Suicide: Helping Children Heal, by Margo Requarth. \u2022 After A Suicide: A Workbook For Grieving Kids, developed by the Dougy Center for Grieving Children. \u2022 But I Didn\u2019t Say Goodbye: For Parents and Professionals Helping Child Suicide Survivors, by Barbara Rubel. \u2022 Someone I Love Died by Suicide: A Story for Child Survivors and Those Who Care for Them, by Doreen Cammarata. General guidelines on suicide are covered in the following books: \u2022 After Suicide: A Ray of Hope for Those Left Behind, by E. Betsy Ross and Joseph Richman. \u2022 After Suicide: Help for the Bereaved, by Dr. Sheila Clark. \u2022 Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One, by Ann Smolin and John Guinan. \u2022 Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide, by Christopher Lucas and Henry M. Seiden. \u2022 Touched by Suicide: Hope and Healing After Loss, by Michael F. Myers and Carla Fine. \u2022 Aftershock: Help, Hope and Healing in the Wake of Suicide, by Candy Neely Arrington and David Cox. \u2022 After Suicide, by John H. Hewett. Specific survivor guides include: \u2022 My Son\u2026My Son: A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss or Suicide, by Iris Bolton. \u2022 Suicide of a Child, by Adina Wrobleski. \u2022 Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, by Michelle Linn-Gust. \u2022 An Empty Chair: Living in the Wake of a Sibling\u2019s Suicide, by Sara Swan Miller. \u2022 No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One, by Carla Fine. \u2022 Before Their Time: Adult Children\u2019s Experiences of Parental Suicide, by Mary Stimming and Maureen Stimming. Hope for the Future Whether through the passage of time, prayer, helping others, or finding a new purpose in life \u2013 perhaps through and with your children or others in need \u2013 you will eventually begin to feel something again. Now, all you feel is pain and numbness, but that will pass. No, it will never be the same as it was. That\u2019s why you need to use any and all available resources to help you navigate these troubled times. Remember that love is the most powerful healer there is. Express your love for your loved one that you lost to suicide, as well as to those remaining family members who now need you more than ever. Love yourself as well. Give so that you may receive. And, take it one day at a time. Each day, each month will bring you a little closer to inner peace and new hope for the future.