(NEWS CENTER) — How we grieve a suicide is different than how we grieve other deaths, according to the clinical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine.
Clinical Director and Senior Trainer Greg Marley says suicide is one of the most difficult losses. He says grief from a suicide loss can last three to five times longer than a normal end of life death.
"The biggest thing is acknowledging that loss and inviting someone to talk about it — making sure you aren't alone in the process," Marley said. "Sometimes people who struggle with a suicide loss, especially if it's a family member, go through their own period of hopelessness."
Marley explains that one of the things that suicide leaves those left behind with is that sense of, "Could I have done something? Could I have prevented it?"
"There's a storm of questions and people tend to get isolated in their grief around suicide. Make sure you acknowledge that loss," Marley said. "If you knew the person who died, use their name. Tell a story about their life, not about their death."
People who survive a suicide loss say it's like they disappeared, Marley says, and it can feel like they don't exist for people.
"Stay in touch," Marley suggests. "You can't fix grief, but grieving is about telling the story and having someone listen. Be present, share your presence and support them over time. Remember birthdays. Stay in touch."
And as we all grieve, he stresses the importance of feeling comfortable talking to someone.
- Maine Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255