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Characteristics of “Normal” Grief

As a survivor, you will experience a  wide range of reactions following the  suicide of your loved one. These reactions can usually be categorized as physical sensations, behavioral, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual. You may experience only a few of these reactions each day or many of them over the course of the day, so it may be helpful for you to expect a variety of them in weeks and months ahead. This roller coaster of reactions is normal in those grieving the loss of someone to suicide. Everyone grieves at a different pace, so what is normal for one person may not necessarily be normal for you. In short, be patient with yourself (and others) at this time…

Physical Sensations

  • Tightness in chest or throat
  • Breathlessness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of energy, fatigue
  • Aches, pains in joints
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vertigo
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sex drive
  • Lack of energy, sluggishness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Restlessness
  • Tearfulness (often when least expected), sighing

Behavioral

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating, delayed thinking
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization, sense of unreality
  • Dreams of the deceased, longing for the deceased
  • Seeking means to communicate with the deceased (tarot cards, mediums)
  • Calling out, searching for the deceased
  • Avoiding discussion of the deceased
  • Taking on the mannerisms or speech of the deceased
  • Needing to retell the story of the deceased’s death
  • Absent-mindedness
  • Absence of reminders or treasuring reminders

Social

  • Withdrawal from friends, ending friendships
  • Avoiding family, friends, & colleagues
  • Dependent on others
  • Hypersensitive to comments about suicide
  • Relationship difficulties, frustrations
  • Caring more for others, neglecting self
  • Increased drug/alcohol use
  • Increased risky activities (reckless driving)

Cognitive (thought processes)

  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Preoccupation
  • Sense of the deceased’s presence
  • Hallucinations

Emotional

  • Shock
  • Changes in mood
  • Numbness, having no feelings
  • Sadness, sorrow
  • Fear, uncertainty about the future
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety, panic
  • Abandonment
  • Loneliness
  • Apathy, disbelief, denial
  • Helplessness, meaninglessness
  • Yearning, wanting, pining
  • Irritability, oversensitivity
  • Relief
  • (misplaced) feelings of anger

Spiritual

  • Anger at one’s God or faith
  • Doubting one’s belief system
  • Loss of faith
  • Feeling betrayed by one’s God
  • Renewed interest in spirituality