Losing a loved one to suicide can be one of the most difficult types of trauma to overcome.
Anger, depression, loneliness and guilt are just some of the emotional responses, in addition to physical symptoms that can overwhelm individuals dealing with loss from suicide.
“After a traumatic event these experiences are normal to have, and people need to know that there is help to get through the pain,” said Julia Payson, executive director for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Vernon and District.
Vernon resident Jeff Teale knows all too well the after-effects of the shock and pain after losing his son Dallas last year.
Teale took part in CMHA’s eight-week Suicide Grief Support Group offered free of charge for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
“I needed help to understand and cope with the extreme grief and trauma that I felt about losing my son,” said Teale. “As I struggled through the pain, it was comforting to receive support from others who have suffered the same loss.”
Teale said attending the sessions helped him gain knowledge and strategies to cope with losing his son to suicide.
“It’s OK to ask for help when you are feeling alone or troubled. You are important and not alone; there is always someone to reach out to,” he said.
Grief from losing a loved one to suicide can be complicated and intense. “After losing someone, everyone needs to be treated with compassion and have their unique experiences respected,” said Payson. “The tragedy of losing someone to suicide brings unimaginable pain, but when we listen, share and provide support, we build resilience and strength in our community.”
The next support group runs Wednesdays from Sept. 4 to Oct. 23 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The People Place, 3402 – 27th Avenue.
The group provides an opportunity to discuss and share feelings and experiences related to the loss of a loved one, including the impact of guilt, anger and regret, coping as a family, building a support network, honouring the memory of a loved one, and coping with birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Suicide loss support groups are led by CMHA trained facilitators who have received specialized training in suicide grief support.
Pre-registration is required as space is limited. For more information or to register, contact Paula at 250-542-3114 ext. 236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.