Navigating the Complex Terrain of Grief

14 May 2024

If you’ve been on social media recently, you’re likely aware that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme focusing on the benefits of physical activity for mental well-being.

But what if the idea of movement feels overwhelming right now? What if exercising seems out of reach? What if you’re rooted in grief?

For those grappling with loss, we’d like to offer a different perspective on ‘Moving More for Mental Health’—one centred on moving through grief.

Grief is a universal experience, yet deeply personal.

It’s the emotional response to loss, a journey of pain, confusion, and transformation.

When it comes to losing someone to suicide, the terrain becomes even more challenging to navigate. It’s a topic often shrouded in silence and stigma, but understanding the process of grief can be helpful for those traversing this difficult path.

Understanding Grief

Grief is not a linear process but rather a labyrinth of emotions and reactions.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously outlined five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, grief doesn’t neatly conform to these stages; it’s messy, unpredictable, and non-linear.

People may oscillate between different stages or experience them simultaneously. In the aftermath of suicide, these emotions can be amplified by feelings of guilt, shame, and unanswered questions.

The Rollercoaster of Emotions

One of the most challenging aspects of grief is the intensity and unpredictability of emotions. From profound sadness to anger, disbelief to numbness, each emotion is valid and deserves acknowledgment.

For those touched by suicide, there may be additional layers of complexity, including feelings of rejection, abandonment, and self-blame. Creating a space where you feel safe expressing these emotions without judgment or shame is crucial.

Coping Strategies

While grief cannot be rushed or circumvented, there are coping strategies that can offer solace along the journey.

Support groups, therapy, and counselling provide avenues for expression and healing.

Engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or creative pursuits can also help alleviate some of the emotional burden.

Building a support network of friends, family, or support groups can provide a sense of belonging and understanding during times of profound loss.

The Importance of Communication

Communication plays a pivotal role in navigating grief, especially in the aftermath of suicide.

Open, honest conversations can foster understanding and connection among loved ones.

It’s essential to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable discussing their feelings and memories of the deceased. Listening without judgment and validating their experiences can be incredibly healing.

Breaking the Stigma around Suicide

Stigma surrounding suicide often exacerbates the pain of loss, leading to isolation and shame.

By fostering conversations around mental health and suicide, we can create a more compassionate and supportive society where individuals feel empowered to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination.

Honouring the Memory

Amidst the pain of loss, finding ways to honour the memory of those we’ve lost is essential.

Creating rituals or traditions that celebrate their life can provide comfort and closure. Whether it’s planting a tree, creating a memory box, or participating in a charity walk, these acts of remembrance can be deeply meaningful and healing.

Moving Forward

It is important to remember also that grief doesn’t have an expiration date; it’s a lifelong journey of integration and adaptation. While the pain may never fully dissipate, it can transform into a source of strength and resilience.

Grief is a testament to the depth of our love and the profound impact of loss.

In the aftermath of suicide, the journey through grief can feel overwhelming and isolating. However, by understanding the process of grief, fostering open communication, and breaking down stigma, we can offer support and solace to those in need.

As we remember those we’ve lost, let us also cultivate a future where mental health is prioritised, and no one suffers in silence.

Need Support?

We provide counselling and therapeutic support to both adults and children bereaved by suicide in the Tees Valley. Visit our Get Support section for all enquiries for support, referrals and helpful resources.

Get Support

Read some stories of how we’ve helped people across the Tees Valley.

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