There is no correct way to grieve.
Grief is incredibly complex and your recovery may change by the day or even the hour. You may experience a slew of emotions—shock, confusion, guilt, shame, anger, blame- or your initial reaction may be a deep sense of emptiness. If you witnessed a suicide attempt you may be struggling with trauma. The key to all of this is to give yourself time.
Recovery is a lifelong goal, but you can take steps every day to help yourself heal.
Take it one day at a time. You have experienced something traumatic. Be patient with yourself. Remember, healing does not happen overnight. Give yourself the time you need to recover.
Express yourself and your feelings. If you do not have someone you can talk to, consider journaling or recording your feelings. Let your frustrations, anger, and sadness out onto the paper. Bottling up strong emotions like these can be self-destructive and lead to further issues in the future.
Get outside. Call a friend, go see a loved one, or just sit on the porch and breathe in the fresh air. Change up your scenery when you need to, especially if your home holds painful memories you are struggling to process.
Stay in contact with the people you love and let them help you. You are not alone. Allow your loved ones to help you. A common reaction to suicide is a feeling of helplessness. Allowing family help you recover may be just as therapeutic for them as it is for you. Unfortuantely, there is a stigma attached to suicide and family members and friends may not know what to say or how and when to provide assistance. They may rely on your initiative to talk about the loved one or to ask for help.
Let yourself experience happiness. Many feel guilty for moments of happiness in a time of grief. Laughter, smiling and feeling normal simply means you are healing.
How do I stay strong?
Right now you may feel that life will never get better—it will.
As you work through your grief, it is crucial to take care of yourself. This includes physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care. Stick to the basics: get enough sleep, surround yourself with the things and people you care about, and eat healthy food. Taking time for yourself is not selfish—it gives your body the strength it needs to recover.
It's also important during this time to find a community that can support you. Connect with others. Share your experiences in a support group. Let them help you, and help others when you are ready. Watching videos about other survivors in your situation may also help with your recovery.
During this time, if you are concerned about your thoughts or behaviors (self-harm, substance abuse, etc) seek professional help or call the free 24-hour hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
Learn more about coping and recovery after suicide loss here.