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DR EDDIE MURPHY: Learning to live with grief following suicide

DR EDDIE MURPHY: Learning to live with grief following suicide

Death by suicide is an overwhelming loss that leaves families, friends and communities with a range of emotions and unanswered questions.

Those left behind may feel guilty and blame themselves. Families and friends often try to think of clues they missed or how they may have prevented suicide.

Making sense of the death, trying to find an explanation and questioning how you could have prevented or caused it, are all part of the emotional turmoil.

It may not always be possible to understand what has happened. Asking why is important, but the answer may never be found.

Although a stressful event may appear to have been the trigger, it will seldom have been the sole reason for death. Suicide is often the result of complex factors.

We will never fully understand the deceased’s frame of mind at the time of death.

What is important is to grieve and reach a state of acceptance, even without all the answers. A conscious choice may need to be made to fully live life again.

Pieta House 1800 24 247 www.pieta.ie have a specialist service for those bereaved by suicide.

There is no set amount of time to grieve and everyone will grieve in their own personal way.

What to expect


• Shock, along with physical and emotional numbness.

• Denial, looking for explanations, anger at others.

• Shame, guilt and rejection, feeling a lack of social support.

• Wanting to hide the truth.

• Relief, if the deceased had difficulties before their death.


• Needing to know why.

• Feelings of panic.

• Anger .

• Difficulty relating to family.

• Worry that you or another in the family is at risk of suicide.

• Finding it hard to trust again.

• Low mood, no energy.

• Depression.

• Feelings of tension or anxiety.

• Finding it hard to sleep.

• Recurring images, dreams


It is very common to feel guilty when someone dies by suicide, about things you did or did not do. You might feel overwhelming regret, self-doubt, deep shame.

You may ask yourself, why didn’t I listen?, why didn’t I prevent this?, what did I do to contribute to the death?

You need time and support to understand and accept that suicide is an individual act. No one person is in control of another person’s fate.


It is normal and natural to feel angry from time to time. Be it directed towards yourself, the person who died, or others. Sometimes anger can feel physical, feeling tense and irritable.

Living with grief

Know you can survive. You may not think so but you can.

Struggle with why it happened until you are satisfied with little or no answers.

You may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings, but know that all your feelings are normal.

Recognise that anger, guilt, confusion and forgetfulness are common responses in mourning.

Be aware you may feel inappropriate anger at the person, at the world, at God, at yourself. It’s okay to express it in a safe way.

Accept that you may feel guilt for what you think you did or did not do.

Know that having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean that you will act on these thoughts. However, seek help if you have frequent suicidal thoughts. For Samaritans call 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.ie

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