Coping With Loss

Accept your emotions.
You might expect to feel grief and despair, but other common feelings include shock, denial, guilt, shame, anger, confusion, anxiety, loneliness and even, in some cases, relief. Those feelings are normal and can vary throughout the healing process.

Don’t worry about what you “should” feel or do.
There’s no standard timeline for grieving and no single right way to cope. Focus on what you need, and accept that others’ paths might be different from yours.

Draw on existing support systems.
Accept help from those who have been supportive in the past, including your family, your friends or members of your faith-based community.

Talk to someone.
There is often stigma around suicide, and many loss survivors suffer in silence. Speaking about your feelings can help.

Join a support group.
You don’t have to cope with your loss alone. Support groups can help you process your emotions alongside others who are experiencing similar feelings. People who don’t think of themselves as support group types are often surprised by how helpful such groups can be.

Talk to a professional.
Mental health professionals like counselors, social workers, and psychologists can help you express and manage your feelings and find healthy coping tools.

Do what feels right to you.
Don’t feel pressured to talk right away. Do what feels right to you. If you choose to discuss your loss, speaking can give your friends and family the opportunity to support you in an appropriate way.

You may find it helpful to write your feelings or to write a letter to your lost loved one. This can be a safe place for you to express some of the things you were not able to say before their death.

Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to let your friends provide support to you, or to look for resources in your community such as therapists, co-workers or family members.

The aftermath of a loved one’s suicide can be full of confusing and painful emotions. If you’re struggling, the Lifeline is always here to provide support.


Providing support to someone who lost a loved one to suicide can be overwhelming, but there are many ways to help someone who is going through a difficult time.

Accept their feelings.
Loss survivors cope with complex feelings after the death of a loved one by suicide, such as fear, grief, shame and anger. Accept their feelings, be compassionate and patient, and provide support with empathy and without judgment.

Be empathetic.
Events like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries may bring forth emotions and memories of the lost loved one and emphasize this loved one’s absence. Check in on and use empathy with loss survivors during these times.

Don’t avoid talking about the person who died by suicide.
Use the name of the person who has died when talking to survivors. This shows that you have not forgotten this important person and can make it easier to discuss a subject that is often stigmatized.

Check in with the loss survivor
People who have lost a loved one to suicide are also at risk of having thoughts of suicide. Ask the person if they are having thoughts of suicide and get them help if you see warning signs.


Parents, teachers, school administrators and other adults in a child’s life can feel unprepared to help a young person cope with a death by suicide. These strategies can help you foster communication and offer support.

Deal with your own feelings first.
Pause to reflect on and manage your own emotions so you can speak calmly to the child or children in your life.

Be honest.
Don’t dwell on details of the act itself, but don’t hide the truth. Use age-appropriate language to discuss the death with children.

Validate feelings.
Help the child put names to her emotions: “It sounds like you’re angry,” or “I hear you blaming yourself, but this is not your fault.” Acknowledge and normalize the child’s feelings. Share your own feelings, too, explaining that while each person’s feelings are different, it’s okay to experience a range of emotions.

Avoid rumors.
Don’t gossip or speculate about the reasons for the suicide. Instead, when talking to a child or teen, emphasize that the person who died was struggling and thinking differently from most people.

Tailor your support.
Everyone grieves at his or her own pace and in his or her own way. Some people might need privacy as they work through their feelings. Respect their privacy, but check in regularly to let them know they don’t have to grieve alone. Other children might want someone to talk to more often. Still others prefer to process their feelings through art or music. Ask the child how they’d like you to help. Let them know it’s okay to just be together.

Extend the conversation. Use this opportunity to reach out to others who might be suffering. Ask children: How can you and your peers help support each other? Who else can you reach out to for help? What can you do if you’re struggling with difficult emotions?