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When You Feel Guilty After a Loved One Dies by Suicide

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I think it is imperative that we, as suicide loss survivors, are able to differentiate between guilt and responsibility. Even still, almost two years later, I feel guilty every day that my boyfriend died by suicide. I feel guilty that I didn’t recognize the telltale signs. I feel guilty that I lived with the man and I was supposed to be the closest person to him in the world, but I didn’t see the situation for what it was. It gives true meaning to the phrase “I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” Friends, there were so many trees. As much guilt as I feel, I am not responsible for his death. He made a choice and no matter what I or anyone else thinks, it happened.

It is common for a suicide loss survivor to feel guilt. The “what if’s” might fill our head for an undetermined amount of time following our loved ones death by suicide. The guilt can weigh heavily on our hearts. What if I had only stayed home from work that day? What if I had just come home at lunch? Somehow, our minds can sometimes turn those “what if’s” into guilt. Of course we could have saved the day, right? But friends, if you only take in one thing from this post, take in this – you are not responsible. Read this again.

You are absolutely not responsible for your loved ones death by suicide.

You did not cause your loved ones death by suicide.

So, I hope you realize that it does not matter if you got into a big fight the day before; it doesn’t matter if you accused them of something just before they died. None of that matters.

Suicide is often an act of desperation from someone who is struggling. If your loved one had died of a heart attack or kidney failure, would you experience the same feelings? Would you be walking around blaming yourself? Chances are, you would not.

It’s OK to give yourself permission to let go of the guilt and responsibility you feel. Friends, it may not feel like it right now, but I think we are going to be OK.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Getty image via Good_Studio

Originally published: December 4, 2017
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