Chapter 2: A different kind of loss

Impact on thoughts and feelings

The grief expert says
Roy speaks about emotions and deep questions when a loved one has died by suicide. (3:22)Video transcript
Serena speaks about the importance of naming guilt as part of grief. (3:22)Video transcript
Alex speaks about how relief is a difficult emotion to express. (3:22)Video transcript
Alex speaks about how one's sense of identity can be impacted by suicide loss. (3:22)Video transcript
Alex shares examples of reasons why one might feel angry after a suicide loss. (3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Leah speaks about how anger has a place in grief. (3:22)Video transcript
Leah speaks about feeling guilt as part of her grieving. (3:22)Video transcript
Leah speaks about how anger can help bring change and how it can also be debilitating. (3:22)Video transcript

If only I had known this was coming, I could have done something different.

It’s okay to be angry, confused, to not know all the answers.

When my brother died, finally there was this nothingness in my chest. The constant feeling of chaos and the expectation and fear of the worst thing that could happen was gone.

Grief can impact your thoughts and emotions. After a death by suicide, your grief and your experience may seem different than what you have experienced with other or past losses. Your grief may be lengthier and more complex, with intense feelings or painful thoughts. You may wonder why the person chose to end their life. You may blame yourself or feel some level of guilt for the death and be left with many unanswered questions. You may feel confused or ashamed because of a sense of relief or anger toward the person who died.

There is sometimes stigma attached to suicide, and you may struggle with beliefs and opinions that you or others have about both the act and the person who died. The public nature of suicide, with the involvement of first responders, media, and investigators, can also feel very invasive.

You may find it challenging to talk about certain feelings, such as regret, anger, shame, or fear. It’s important to know that your feelings are normal. Below are some common thoughts and feelings, drawn from the experiences of people who’ve grieved a death by suicide. Click the arrows to view these.

Losing someone suddenly or violently leaves a lot of room for anger and rage. Some examples are:

  • You might be angry with a person who you feel let the person who died down; an establishment (such as a hospital); friends and family; a higher power; or even yourself.
  • You might feel angry at the person who died if you believe that they should have reached out more or done a better job of caring for themselves. You might feel angry because they have abandoned you, or for the pain their death has caused.
  • Your anger or rage might feel more free-floating, without a specific target.

What may help

  • Remember that your thoughts and feelings are part of a normal response to this death. If they seem different or disturbing, remind yourself that grief after a death by suicide is unlike the grief you may have felt after other losses.
  • Acknowledge that your grieving will likely take longer than you (or others) might expect. Try to be patient and allow yourself to take the time needed to come to terms with what has happened.
  • If you continue to struggle with feeling overwhelmed by difficult thoughts and feelings, or if you feel “stuck” in your grief, seek help from a professional with training in grief and suicide loss.


Helpful resources - Module 5 - Making sense of intense emotions