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What can you do for someone who just lost a family member to suicide?

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LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:06 AM
Original message
What can you do for someone who just lost a family member to suicide?
My niece (not by blood) just lost her uncle (fathers brother) to suicide.
She is of course beside herself and very very scared, freaked out, emotional, feeling the loss.
She left a long message telling me she needs me now, & I am of course there for her. But what different do you
say to someone when their loved one died at their own hand? Are they resources I should be looking at???

I want to do the right thing here- it is a tricky situation because her grandmother (the uncles father)
tried to kill herself 2 years ago & depression runs in the family. I think she is now fearful for her grandmother
as well.


Anyone here have suggestions? I love this girl like she is my child & I am scared for her.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
1. Just listen and empathize with her; let her know her feelings are okay
and not to be ashamed of; and, if she wonders, let her know that suicide was not her fault oir the fault of anyone else in the family or in the world.

It could also be helpful as you are talking to say to her something like "I imagine you are afraid of your grandmother committing suicide". Don't ask it, just say it.

And don't be afraid to use the word "suicide" - if you're afraid, she might be afraid. Don't stigmatize it or let it be taboo. Speak the word.
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LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Good advice- and the last part is particularly interesting because
I've already noticed she can't say suicide. She just says "My uncle shot himself".
She doesn't say he killed himself, that he committed suicide, or that he died.
Just that he shot himself. At first I thought he might have survived.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Sadly, there is a lot of shame around suicide, and it should not be so.
Edited on Sat Mar-10-07 11:18 AM by Rabrrrrrr
Often people will wait until after the funeral to put the obituary in the paper. Quite often they will never say how the person died.

It's really too bad. Partly due to self-inflicted shame, and partly due to the fact that our culture shames the family members of suiciders, which is really stupid.

It happens - we should be honest about it, and not stigmatize it.

Perhaps someday it won't be shameful any more. Like how cancer used to be shameful, but now it isn't.
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sammythecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. You're so right
I did the math once and it came out to one every twenty minutes in this country! 30 some thousand every year.

I hate to think of how many don't do it, but live their lives with that thought in the back of their mind.

I can't imagine having to deal with the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Then, on top of that, having to deal with the fact that so many consider it shameful and would rather you don't even talk about it. So sad.
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sammythecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. I feel like I'm stalking you here
but I have to say I think you've given LibraLiz (and me) some truly great advice here. I'll remember it and hope I never get to use it.
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Truthiness Inspector Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:18 AM
Response to Original message
3. Go visit her, if you are able
And maybe sharing stories with her about how much her uncle loved her will help; she may need reassurance of that right now.

Your neice is lucky to have you there for her (whether by phone or in person).
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Haole Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
5. Some advice on this subject...
Mostly listen. Let them do the talking.

Don't ever say "I know how you feel," when you don't.

Understand they might feel a very wide range of emotions...including anger, confusion, stress...

Don't try to understand it...suicide, so I've been told, is irrational. There is no "reason"
they say, really, for an irrational act. It is driven by emotions instead of logic.

Allow the survivor (what a joke of a word there) to do whatever they need to...long drives, music, whatever it might take (within reason, of course).

Try not to justify the suicide in any way, shape or form. Believe me, when I tell you this, your niece will probably not want to hear any justification for it.

After my mother's suicide, a dear professor friend of mine told me, "Her motives died with her."
It was a simple sentence, yet 21 years later... I believe it saved what little shred of sanity I had left.

Good luck. And I wish your niece all the strength she can muster, in dealing with it.

Just be there for her...and let her know you'll always be there...

hugs.. :hug: :hug: :hug:

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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Very Heartfelt Response KC
You've been through a lot and I appreciate your willingness to share this with people here.

I think that it helps to hear from someone who has been through such a tough thing immeasurably more than from someone who has never been there.

:hug: :hug: :hug:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
8. listen to her
let her talk, share stories about the person and use their name. as it's been said upthread, there is still a lot of shame surrounding suicide.

many people are angry and confused, let her know that her emotions are okay. check around and see if there are grief support groups or survivor support groups and let her know there are resources available to her when she is ready.

here's a link from a group in my area that could help you help her http://www.suicideresourcecenter.org/griefafter.htm
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graywarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-10-07 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
9. No expert here, but been through quite a few suicides from family to high school friends
Best you can do is pass no judgement. And listen.
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