What is the best way to cope with the loss of someone to suicide?

I recently lost a friend to suicide. I'm smoking marijuana and drinking more to cope with it. How can I handle this better?

Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Psychotherapist, Jungian, Hypnotherapy

Suicide is not a natural way to pass from this Earth, so many times it can be EXTREMELY tough to deal with because of the "unnatural-ness" of the event. We may find ourselves feeling guilty that we did not see it or that we could've have done more or something to stop it, but often the fish in the fishbowl cannot see that which is closest to him. You are currently trying to numb your feelings, those feelings as nasty as they are, are meant to be felt, those feelings help us to process the event and also help us to pass through the situation. Your friend has a legacy, remember it, and honor that legacy everyday in some small or even grand way, perhaps committing or volunteering your time to help others in honor of your friend.

Hope this helps,

C

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Ben Braaksma
Ben Braaksma
Mental Health Counselor

First of all, I am very sorry for your loss, and I can understand the urge to drink and smoke to try and cope. As I'm sure you understand, alcohol and marijuana may take the edge off of the pain in the short run, but in the long run they may prevent you from being able to work through the thoughts and feelings that you have about the loss of your friend. Grieving is a process that is unique to each individual and each relationship that may involve difficult, confusing, and even contradictory seeming thoughts and feelings and a competent therapist can help you work through this process. It also may be useful for you to add other ways of coping, such as taking care of yourself through exercise, doing healthy activities that you love, and spending time with people that you love. Self care is often most difficult when we need it the most. Thank you for reaching out.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

I urge you to seek some therapeutic help for this, and also to connect with others who knew your friend, because they're likely feeling the same way. Suicide is difficult to understand, and those left behind have many mixed emotions that make their grief complicated and anguished. Your friend either had an impulse that no one could stop, or they made a big decision that impacted everyone around them. There are other things you can do to cope with this, and it has to do with accepting your powerlessness to stop it, not blaming yourself, forgiving your friend, and finding meaning in their life and yours. You won't find that meaning in a bottle or a joint. I hope you reach out soon. :)

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jessica Dobbs
Jessica Dobbs
Therapist

Suicide is a very traumatic loss and affects survivors significantly. Everyone deals with their grief in different ways. One way I recommend to deal with the loss of a loved one is to write letters to them. Some people like to keep the letters in a jar, maybe fill the jar with sand so the letters are buried. I recommend writing the letters as often as you need to. You will notice over time the need to write the letters will decrease and the intense feelings of loss will decrease. I also recommend finding a survivors support group in your area. You can find more information on www.afsp.org.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Claudia Higgins
Claudia Higgins
Therapist, RCSWI

Let me begin by offering my condolences for your loss. I can understand how difficult this time maybe for you especially if you have several unanswered the questions due to the circumstances surrounding the death of your friend.  It's during this time, that you may experience the various stages of grief. This includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. In the bereavement process, there is so specific time frame or lengths of time for someone to work through each step. Its imperative to note  that one may express each stage with different levels of intensity. Also, the five stages do not necessarily occur in any specific order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Just note that everyone greives differently, some internalize their feelings and emotions, others express it externally, while other avoid it all together.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience. Sometimes we feel that no one understands what we are feeling or going through, much less comprehend our emotional state of mind . What's important, is that you allow others to comfort you through the various stages. My recommendation is to allow yourself to go through the emotions and feel the grief. Avoiding or resisting may only delay the healing process. Reaching the acceptance stage of mourning is a gift not not everyone is awarded, but seeking the help of a Grief counselor may assist in deciphering your emotions and set you on a more positive path to achieve closer.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Cimberly R. Nesker
Cimberly R. Nesker
Registered Psychotherapist (3579)

I'm so sorry to hear about your recent loss.  There is such a large feeling of uncertainty that befalls those of us left to sort through these emotions of such a loss, and it's never easy.  

I think it's important to remember that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to deal with loss and the "best way" for you may not be the best way for someone else.  The fact that you are aware that you are smoking more marijuana and drinking more, and the fact that you can recognize that these may not be the best coping techniques, is a very good step towards giving yourself some better support at this time.  Marijuana and drinking are type of coping techniques that can numb us to our emotions, but they do not really help us to work through those emotions. 

When it comes to grief, often one of the most helpful ways to move through the phases of grief is to use your social supports; talk to your friends and family, see your mutual friends and commiserate with each other on the loss and the uncertainty.  The more we talk about our feelings, the more we are okay with them being ours. The more we express our loss, the better we become at accepting such a loss. In talking with your supports, you may also decide ways in which you may want to remember your friend; ways you can do so on a personal level (writing a poem, planting a tree, etc.) or ways you as a group can remember and memorialize them (a special day where you get together to share your memories, starting a charity, etc.) 

We never truly "get over" our losses, but we can learnt o accept the losses and what it means to us now...but that also takes time. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

First I am so sorry for your loss.  Most people go through the grieving process.  I would get a better understanding of what that process is.  Everyone has their own way of handling loss.  You are taking the first step in realizing that you are having a difficult time coping with it.  I would reach out to a therapist that has experience treatment patients with loss. I would also recognize that drinking and smoking are both substances that will not make depression or depressive thoughts any better.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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