Suicide is one of the hardest situations a family has to go through. The family has trouble grieving fully because they are constantly asking "why" and "what else could I have done?"
Everyone deals with grief differently, but the important thing is to recognize the grief. When a person commits suicide, there is someone suffering everyone seems to forget, and their grief is left unaddressed. NPR recently did a story that discussed the most forgotten person in a suicide — who comforts the siblings?
People reach out and comfort the parents, and the victim's friends, but everyone is so concerned for other parties that they simply forget how hard it can be for a sibling. According to NPR, "Those who lose a sibling to suicide at any age can experience anger, complicated grief reactions, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of taking their own lives."
It's heartbreaking to think we are forgetting these siblings. They feel like they have to suffer in silence, and that there's no hope for them.
Here are three things to remember and do for people who lost a sibling to suicide:
1. Be there for them
Siblings shape your life, so to lose a sibling is devastating. Your emotions are everywhere. Some siblings get really angry, while others experience depression and anxiety. The important thing is to remember that they are grieving and they need people to support them.
"'I was angry because I saw how Tyler's death affected my parents. For about six months, I was on edge. My job was in jeopardy,' says Steen. He broke up with his girlfriend, switched to the overnight shift and isolated himself after work. Steen says his friends, boss and colleagues found it tough to wait out his recovery as he continued to struggle for more than two years after Tyler's death."
Although it may be hard to be around people through the grieving process, it's important to stand by their side and let them know they're loved. Talk to them and let them know that it's not their fault.
2. Therapy is not embarrassing
It's important to take your children's feelings and mental health seriously. NPR says, "Parents shouldn't feel embarrassed or think their child is 'just faking it' for attention." What they are feeling is real to them and they may be struggling with depression or similar mental health issues that their suicidal sibling was.
Seeking professional help is never something to be ashamed of. Just like going to a doctor when your child has broken a bone, going to a trained professional when your child is emotionally struggling is the right thing to do.
3. Trust them by talking to them
After a child commits suicide, it can be hard to feel like you can trust what your other children are thinking. The easiest way to build trust between two people is for them to talk.
NPR discussed that "After their son died, Porco's frightened parents urged her to stay home and take a year off after high school. Then they threatened that she couldn't go away to college." They felt that if they let their child out of their sight they would lose their other child.
While these feelings are real and valid, it is important to build trust with your other children by talking to them. Even if it's hard, discuss their feelings, aspirations and fears.
Remember the victim's siblings. They are often the ones that are asked to "be strong" even when they are grieving. Remember to validate their feelings and express your love and concern for them.