Grief After Suicide: Feeling Shame After Tragedy

grief after suicide

Table of Contents

Feeling guilt after suicide is a normal part of the grieving process. It’s a painstaking emotion that is a very common byproduct of the five stages of grief after suicide. The fact that it’s not your fault doesn’t erase the heartache of losing a loved one. We understand you need all the emotional support you can get to help you through the most difficult heartache anybody can endure. Though nothing replaces the loss of a loved one, the following details can be your crutch to lean on through the healing process.

What are the Most Common Emotions After Suicide of a Loved One?

There are so many conflicting emotions peaking simultaneously that it can be difficult to distinguish what’s normal. You may not even know how to feel. Because everybody deals with grief differently, there is no clear-cut definition of a normal emotional response. Rest assured, the following emotions are a normal part of the grieving and healing process.


Most loved ones who experience the sudden loss of a dear friend or family member are not expecting it. This leaves the majority in a state of disbelief, shock, and even denial of the facts altogether. Shock can be so severe it can render an individual unresponsive or numb in the wake of such tragic events.


Feelings of anger toward a loved one for committing suicide or towards the act itself are more common than you realize. This can stem from animosity for them not being open about their mental health struggles. Anger towards a loved one who has passed can cause you to feel guilty in a much different way. However, this feeling is a common phase of the healing process.


Of course, everybody goes through the painstaking process of sorrow at the loss of a loved one. This emotion is likely never to fully go away. Sorrow is one of the lingering scars you have to learn to cope with for the rest of your life. However, our compassionate therapists can help you deal with these worries head-on.


Loneliness is an emotion that leaves us feeling a void of emptiness. Loneliness as a result of losing a loved one to suicide is a void that nobody can plug or replace. The only way to cope with it properly is to remain active, often against your desire to do so. That’s because ironically, loneliness causes many to only want to spend more time in seclusion to themselves.

Severe Anxiety

Sorrow can affect many people to the point of excessive anxiety. Severe anxiousness, anxiety, and uncontrollable tremors are very common responses to heartache. Though the process of sorrow has no timetable or manageable aspects, heartache-induced anxiety can be managed with proper treatment.

Shame or Guilt

Guilt after suicide is the most common emotion after such a tragedy. Many family members and friends of the deceased feel survivor’s guilt following the loss of a loved one to suicide. This is a prime example of how shame and suicide often coincide. This is because many feel they could have stopped the occurrence before it happened. However, despite what you may feel, their passing is nothing you could’ve prevented and nobody is to blame. It’s also understandable that nobody what anybody else says, there’s likely no amount of words that can avert your guilt after suicide.

How Do You Cope with the Sudden Loss of a Loved One?

The cold hard truth is nobody ever fully recovers from the loss of a loved one, especially when suicide is involved. Yet, there are proactive methods to help you cope and move on with your life. Here are just a few of the ways to cope with the grief of losing a loved one to suicide.

Seek Family Therapy

The most successful way to help families heal together is to seek treatment from a therapist who understands your heartache. Our team of caring physicians can help your family grow together through these darkest times as a family unit. While you never truly move on from losing a loved one, we’ll help you honor their memory by pressing forward together. All this while enabling you to celebrate their life and memory that will forever live on in your hearts.

Spend More Time with Family

Spending more time with your family is the most healthy way to help each other through such a tragic loss. Though grief triggers an impulsive desire to seclude yourself, that is often the worst thing to do for all involved. Spending more time with your grieving family strengthens the bonds of your kin and allows you to heal together.

Celebrate the Life of the Deceased

Despite their tragic passing, they will always live on in your heart, mind, and family for generations. Utilize that to celebrate their life even as you mourn their death. Share the joys, laughs, and memories you had together with your family. Remember they’re great qualities and pass them down to your children and their memory will live on in the lives of your children. This celebration of their life will help you remember they may be absent in body, but they will always be present in spirit.

Stay Active

When the time comes, it is best to stay as active as you can under the circumstances without overwhelming yourself. We all need to take some time away from the rigors of daily life to grieve and collect ourselves. Some need more or less time than others so don’t rush that process. But, take the time to remain active to help push yourself through when the time is right.

Raise Awareness for Depression and Suicide

This may not work for some, especially immediately following the loss of a loved one. Others, however, move on better by advocating on the deceased’s behalf. That is to say, raising awareness of mental health and suicide helps some who have lost loved ones heal better. This is comforting in many ways not just to you, but to others who may be experiencing mental health battles within their family. You can raise awareness by volunteering at treatment facilities and sharing your impact statements of dealing with suicide firsthand.

What are the Five Stages of Grief?

All of the emotions you feel after the loss of a loved one to suicide go hand-in-hand with the 5 stages of grief. Most of which stem from extreme sadness or guilt after suicide. It’s important to note that any of the following stages are interchangeable and vary depending on individual response to grief.

1. Mental Reasoning

In this phase of grief, your mind grapples and attempts to reason with the “what ifs” of your loss. For example, “What if I had been there” or “What if I was there for them more”. This is the phase where unmerited guilt tends to seep into your mind. This is why therapy is so vital for families who experience losing a loved one, to help you understand the tragedy is not your fault.

2. Repudiation

Repudiation is complete denial that the tragedy ever took place or that something else must be the cause of death. This is often the first impulsive reaction to finding out that a friend or family member has passed from suicide. That’s because there is perhaps nothing harder than accepting someone you love has taken their life.

3. Anger

Also included in the most common emotions in the wake of suicide, anger is also one of the five phases of grief. Not everybody experiences anger, but when they do it is understandably an aggressive manifestation of the underlying heartache. Bear that in mind when you or another family member may appear to be easily irritable as they are likely grieving differently.

4. Depression

Grief after suicide almost always reaches the deepest trenches of sorrow before it gets better. Those trenches often include feelings of insurmountable depression after losing someone you love. The depression phase, if experienced, usually precedes or immediately follows the acceptance stage of grief. When the reality of the situation hits you, depression is an understandable reaction

5. Acceptance

Reaching the acceptance phase of grief doesn’t mean you’re over the tragedy. It simply means you’ve overcome the stages of denial, anger, and other emotional traumas of the situation. The acceptance stage is the hardest stage for many to come to and even after you do, it doesn’t make it any easier. However, getting to this stage enables you to regain the drive to lead a more proactive life dedicated to their honor.

Jaywalker Can Help You Through the Healing Process

stages of grief after suicide

Not only is the atmosphere at Jaywalker the perfect environment to help you through these dark times. We also have the greatest doctors you could ask for to be there for you every step of the way. Whether it’s dealing with guilt after suicide, stages of grief, or other suicide-related trauma, we’re your crutch every step of the way. Start the process of mending your broken heart today by reaching out to a caring receptionist.

We never fully get over the loss of a loved one. The scars left by the mending will always be there. However, we can help you cherish their memory in a joyful light and leave behind the sorrow.


author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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