Suicide Bereavement Support

Losing someone to suicide can be extremely difficult. People bereaved by suicide can be confronted by a raft of complex emotions which can lead to feelings of loneliness and desperation. On top of this, there are practical matters to consider – letting people know, arranging the funeral, and so much more.

At Funeral Partners, we can take care of the practicalities, and hope that you’ll find this information helpful, whether you’ve lost someone to suicide yourself or you’d like to offer support to a loved one.

Coping with suicide bereavement

Bereavement of any kind can be very hard, but people affected by suicide find themselves with an incredibly complex range of emotions to process alongside their grief.

When someone dies suddenly, family and friends of the person who died are likely to be experiencing an overwhelming assortment of feelings. Grieving is an incredibly personal process, and each person will be affected by suicide in different ways. There’s no right or wrong way for people to process feelings around grief. Here are some ways in which you can help yourself start to heal following the loss of a loved one to suicide:

  1. Try and talk about how you’re feeling. Some people find it immensely helpful to share their thoughts and feelings with those close to them. Others find it difficult to put their emotions into words, but it is helpful to have an outlet.
  2. Share treasured memories of the person who died. Looking at photographs, talking about them, sharing stories, and going to places that remind you of them can all help.
  3. Continue with activities that you enjoy, such as going to the gym, music, or social events. These outlets can encourage positive mental health.
  4. Create a kit, a sort of ‘emotional first aid kit’. Include things that make you feel better when you’re feeling down or angry. It could be a certain playlist, or a ball to kick.
  5. Meet other people who have been bereaved. If you don’t feel able to talk to friends and family about how you are feeling, support groups can provide a safe and judgement-free space to share.
  6. Remember, your feelings are valid, whatever they are. It’s okay to feel angry, and even to feel let down by the person who died.
  7. It’s not your fault. Try and keep in mind that what happened is not something you had control over or could have prevented.

Supporting a friend after a loved one’s suicide

If a friend has lost a loved one to suicide, the most important thing to do is offer support, empathy and kindness. It can be difficult for people who are bereaved to express how they are feeling, and they may even say they are fine and try to brush off offers of help at first. But support is invaluable. Listen without judgement, and allow them the space to open up at their own pace. Ask what you can do to help. Make a note of key dates, for example the birthday of the person who died, and be sure to mark them in years to come.
You may not find it easy to hear some of the things that your loved one wants to express, and in this case, if it feels appropriate, you could encourage them to get in touch with a professional service to support people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Can you have a Christian funeral after suicide?

Yes, absolutely. The ban on granting a full Christian funeral service when someone dies by suicide has been lifted.

How long after suicide can you have a funeral?

In the case of a death by suicide, there is always a public hearing, called an inquest. This can mean that there will be a longer wait than the average 2–3 weeks before a funeral.

Further support

For more support and information for when someone may have died by suicide, this booklet from Support after Suicide Partnership could be a helpful resource.

What are the next steps?

If you have any questions or are unsure of what to do next, please reach out to your local funeral director and our friendly team will help you navigate this difficult time.

How to pick a funeral director

You can be assured that every funeral home that is part of the Funeral Partners family will provide outstanding client service.

Documents and certificates

Certificates you will need to enable you to start arranging the funeral and sorting out the affairs of the person who has died.

Letting people know

Picking up the telephone to tell close family or complete strangers such as an employer about the death is usually difficult.

Further Reading: Arranging a funeral

Read about how funerals are arranged and what services you can expect to get.