Suicide Condolences: Finding the Right Words for Unspeakable Grief

Suicide condolences – words of sympathy shared with the grieving family of a suicide victim – are among the hardest we’ll ever have to speak or write. Finding the right words of empathy after any death can be difficult; but finding the right words after a suicide seems practically impossible when the grieving family may still be searching for answers. Let’s take a closer look:

Unanswerable Questions

First, understand that the family may not have an answer to the natural question: “Why?” We all seek to understand death, especially when it does not come from natural causes. In many cases, a suicide may be related to depression or other mental illness. It might have been related to a terminal illness, or result from desperation after a severed relationship, or come from deep grief after the loss of a partner. In any case, the act of suicide is obviously a deeply personal choice; and as such, in most cases, the possibility of the act was probably not discussed with family. Because of that, family members left behind may be struggling to understand the reasons, too. Even if the cause is suspected or known, the family may feel guilt over not being able to intervene in time.

So, because there are so many questions with no real answers, don’t add to the heartache by asking “Why?” While that question is natural and well-intentioned, it really can’t be answered in most cases. And don’t ask, “Did you see any signs that this was possible?” either. Again, after the suicide, such questions have no purpose but to add to the burden of those left behind.

And One Answerable Question

The better alternative when seeking to comfort grieving loved ones after a suicide is to express not suicide condolences, but merely the same kind of heartfelt condolences you would share with any natural passing. Simply express your sincere sympathies and don’t pry for answers.

However, there is one question you can ask that will surely be appreciated: “What can I do for you?” While most survivors won’t ask for specific favors even when asked, expressing your willingness to help is a kind and thoughtful gesture. If you know the grieving family member well, you can be more specific. For example, you could ask if you can take the kids to a movie in order to give the grieving parent a few private moments to help process the loss. And if your relationship with the family member is especially close, offer to listen – just listen. Oftentimes, that will be the best condolence possible.

At Stillinger Family Funeral Home, we know that every death is unique. While many deaths are expected, such as after an accident, illness, or long life, death by suicide is often shocking and unspeakably sad. Because there are often no real answers as to why the deceased chose suicide, prying questions are inappropriate and can merely add to the pain the family is experiencing. Suicide condolences require a special kind of empathy, but mostly they are simply a matter of expressing that you care and are willing to help those left behind.

To learn more about the funeral services and information we provide at Stillinger Family Funeral Home, contact us at (317) 462-5536.

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