Sudden death is shocking! We don't believe it, it will take time for the impact to fully sink in. Our lives are severely disrupted and often we don't have any idea of what to do next. Our grief will, of course, be most intense in the first days. Often those grieving a sudden death experience additional bewilderment and anxiety as they try to process and accept the sudden death of a loved one.

Grieving a sudden death is often different from an expected death, because there was no preparation, no chance to process the situation beforehand. All of the emotions of grief arrive very suddenly as well. Sudden death also poses challenges to our sense of control, it reminds us that our world is unstable and that we are never fully in command.

Later, reality will present itself in small doses as we process the loss. We have to learn how to do things the deceased once did for us and that we now must do for ourselves. We may need help learning to manage the house, take care of the children, and locating a job.

Avoiding excessive use of alcohol or sedatives is wise. Eating well and taking good physical care of yourself is also important. Seek help from friends or professionals when you need to talk or when you need advice on matters that cause you concern. 

7/3/2013 01:16:33 pm

My boyfriend committed suicide almost a year ago. He left me several phone messages while he was preparing to die. It has taken such a toll on my life...especially because before he killed himself he violently attacked me. He had started using crack cocaine again..and i just didnt want that in my life. So i broke up with him...but honestly i expected us to get back with him if he complied with drug treatment. My life has been turned upside down...as i knew him for 40 years. He was my first boyfriend. Even after a month long hospitalization with acute catatonia..i struggle daily on all kinds of meds just to survive...

Kelly Sperber
7/4/2013 06:14:57 am

Jacqueline. I feel your pain. My husband also died suddenly, 5 1/2 years ago. He had just turned 43 years old. He died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (sudden death/thickening of the heart lining). He too was a drug addict for many years. Due to his drug addiction, we had a crazy, insane life, but, I loved him more than anything in this world. I always said we put the fun in disFUNcionall!! Like you, I never got closure, I never got to tell him I loved him, I never got to tell him fu*k you....I never got to say anything! I miss him more than anything, I still cannot believe he is not here anymore, I still cannot accept it! I will never be the same as I was before! I'm not sure I ever will be...

Kelly Sperber
7/4/2013 06:16:48 am

Found this on a another page and just have to share it. So true!

"So had a sad moment today thinking of how unfair it is you went away because I was suppose to send the rest of my life with you, then I realized you spent the rest of your life with me and I smiled because I know you loved me till the day you went away and continue loving me till the day we are together again."

7/4/2013 10:34:25 pm

Dear Jacqueline,

I am so sorry for your loss of your boyfriend. You needed to set limits in hopes of making his life better and making your life with him better. You cannot blame yourself for choosing to set limits.

Besides the shock and devastation of death by suicide there are often feelings of guilt that survivors endure. As we seek reasons why someone would take their lives often we look within ourselves for how we might have behaved to find an explanation. We may regret words we said or things we did but we cannot accept blame as the cause of someone's choice to take their life. The person who commits suicide is the only one who can control that choice. If they were impaired by drugs or alcohol it was still their act not yours.

Some survivors also feel anger at the deceased and have to deal with feelings of abandonment and betrayal. Those feelings are ok to express and are normal.

I would strongly encourage you to work with accomplished therapists and also to seek support groups such as those sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. www.afsp.com


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    As part of my doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, when information on grief, bereavement, death and dying was scarce, some colleagues and I began group work with the bereaved. Out of that work grew interviews with widowers, training with funeral workers, clergy, social workers, hospice and medical personnel. 

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