Process for bereavement in suicide of a loved one

We don’t like it but we can understand the death of a loved one by accident or illness. However the death of a loved one by suicide leaves us more puzzled. Harder to come to terms with for most. Indeed at one level it frightens us because it shows us we can also do it. If another person has suicided it highlights that it is possible for me do.

Thus in the counselling of bereaved loved ones this is an issue the therapist can raise at some point. Indeed the “copy cat” effect of suicide has been widely documented and thus another issue to keep in mind. There is something about suicide that can in particular lead to subsequent suicide attempts by others.


The process in debriefing a loved one subsequent to the death of a close other by suicide can follow this process:

Shock  >  denial  >  Realisation of reality   >  facts and feelings  >  catharsis of emotions  >  acceptance of reality  > dropping of emotions > any secondary gains  >  adjustments to everyday living roles and environment > any life script reinforcements > moving on

This can apply for other than death by suicide of a loved one. However in the case of a suicide one would pay particular attention

The emotional responses and catharsis as shown below

Any secondary gains the client may create

Life script reinforcements the client will use the death to support.


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