Some people can't handle it. I mean, if you say somebody killed themselves, it's a real conversation stopper. (Melanie)
Society somehow expects us to sweep our feelings of horror and guilt and grief away. (Jennifer)
She was so much there. The one thing of any importance to me was my own daughter…I wasn't going to talk trivialities. (Nancy)
Bereavement research suggests that the support of family and friends is critical in the period following a bereavement. It can help the mourner in their grieving and reduce the impact of sudden loss. Amongst the suddenly bereaved, 'social support from family and close friends plays a major and consistent role in alleviating separation anxiety, feelings of rejection and depression' (Reed 1998).
Apart from the family members, the bereaved person's support network may include friends (of varying degrees of closeness), acquaintances, neighbours and colleagues in the workplace. Support may also be offered by others such as GPs. In the days immediately following the death, the bereaved will often withdraw from their wider social network, remaining at home with immediate family, perhaps seeing just one or two close friends. But at some point, often after the funeral has taken place, they will gradually re-emerge, go back to work, and resume social and leisure activities.
Sometimes the bereaved person will find other people reacting to the loss in ways which are not particularly helpful: friends may be embarrassed, they may not know what to say; they may want to help but say the wrong thing; or, if really unable to cope with the situation, they may avoid the bereaved person. In general, though, as a society we would probably like to think we are becoming a little more comfortable with death and bereave-ment. But can the same be said about society's response to suicide deaths?