The Silent Grief After a Suicide
Updated: Mar 27
There's grief, and then there's silent grief. Both hurt just as intensely, but one is suffered more in the darkest shadows of our soul, while the other is more openly recognized and talked about.
The loss of anyone brings about an indescribable pain, and grief is the process that follows that loss. While some of us grieve by crying, talking, and honoring our loved one who passed, others grieve silently.
I think that silent grief is more common when you've lost someone to suicide, because we simply don't know how to talk about it. Those who are grieving don't understand why it happened and often blame themselves for not doing something to stop it--even though they know deep down there was nothing they could do. The ones watching us grieve don't really know the right thing to say. What do you say to someone who just lost their loved one in such a sudden and sad way?
All deaths are sad, but knowing that someone was in such deep despair that they would take their own life, that's absolutely soul crushing.
So many of us are trying to stay alive, so it's difficult to understand how someone could get to the point where they didn't want to live anymore. I'm not going to pretend that I know how someone gets to that point, because I haven't been there--however, I have lost someone that I love to suicide, so I know all too well the silent grief that follows.
You replay over and over in your head your last few conversations, searching for some kind of sign that you may have missed. You want someone or something to blame, and it's much easier to try to blame yourself than to place blame on the loved one you lost.
The fact is, it's not their fault, and it's certainly not yours.
They may have physically taken their life, but the reason or reasons they did are so far beyond your control or their control that there really is nothing that you could have done to stop that moment from happening. As much as you want to wish it away and dissect it and think of all the "if only's", doing so is only hurting you more.
When someone dies from a physical illness, it's easy to blame the illness for the loss of your loved one. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, a car accident, even a homicide--they all come with someone or something to blame. But with a suicide, who are you going to blame? The loved one you lost? No, absolutely not. They were in pain. Even if you don't understand it, you know deep down that you can't blame them for what they did.
So in comes the silent grief. You don't talk about it as much as you would have if they had died from something else because you simply don't know how to talk about it. So you hurt in silence, constantly wondering why and how this happened.
Eventually you might come to terms with it, so you can try to move on in some way, but that lingering silent grief never fully goes away. It's not something you can lay to rest because you will never have all the answers.
As human beings, we crave answers. We want to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of things. It's ingrained in us to solve problems this way. But even if you logically have the answer to each one of those questions following a suicide, you will never be emotionally satisfied with the "why" question.
That's where the silent grief will always stick around--floating the why over and over again in your head, until you take your last breath.
This is all my personal experience with grief after a suicide. I'm sure there are some people who are able to fully heal after the loss of a loved one to suicide, but it hasn't been the case for me.
Although the grief isn't constant anymore, it still hits out of the blue. The memories are sometimes healing, and sometimes they open the wound back up. But the silent grief will always remain in some way because I will never have all the answers.