Government of Western Australia

What doesn’t help

People keeping away. When friends and others did not contact us after our loss, we felt hurt and let down. We understood they were uncomfortable or not sure what to say, but we needed to know others would be there for us and some were not.

Other people’s reactions can sometimes be unhelpful, especially if they make judgements or give their opinions or advice. It does not help to hear comparisons, or be told that others are hurting or are worse off.

‘Move on’, ‘You’ll get over it’, ‘It’s God’s will’ and other such comments stop us expressing the pain we feel. We are not ‘breaking down’ or ‘falling apart’. Being upset is healthy, but others can find it uncomfortable, not knowing what to say or do.

When others are distressed by our tears it does not help us grieve. Tell them you need to cry. It’s healthy!

Numbing our pain by using alcohol or drugs delays our grieving. For many of us, this only creates other problems later. Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss and even though it hurts, it will ease if we allow ourselves to experience it.

If our loss is complicated by other traumas or experiences we’ve had (such as abuse or other losses) we can seek professional help to heal our grief.

Refusing to talk about the person we’ve lost or mention their name is not helpful. We needed to acknowledge what had happened, not deny it. While Aboriginal people do not use the name of the person who has died as a mark of respect, they can talk about the person without using their name.

Not having information about what’s happened meant we were left asking questions and left wondering and worrying. This stopped us moving on.

Endlessly searching for answers to why the death occurred. Information can help us understand and accept our loss but we may never find all the answers we would like. Some of us find this difficult to accept, while others of us find a way to feel at peace about the mystery. Speaking to people who have also lost someone to suicide in a support group helps us understand just how common it is to never get all our questions answered. Learning about the causes of suicide and some of the issues behind it helps some of us to find some of the possible answers. Rarely do we find them all.

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