Franklin Cook specializes in suicide prevention project management via a coaching business. He offers one-on-one support for those who are grieving after losing a loved one to suicide in a process he calls personal grief coaching. “People are very much in shock after a loss from suicide, and so one thing they need is good, compassionate care from those who respond, whether it’s first responders or it’s the minister” or anyone else. However, there are unique “must haves” when it comes to consistent caregivers over time. Getting the “right match” can make all the difference.
“The reason why” is a question that’s mulled over again and again no matter how a person dies, but for those who lost a loved one to suicide they can be tortured over this question. They need special treatment around that question, says Cook, especially since ultimately it might end up staying a mystery. “When to stop asking the question ‘why’ and accepting that it’s a mystery” may be required, which is of course no easy task.
A Unique Kind of Loss
“What was the person’s role in this in terms of their willfulness” is another conundrum loved ones struggle with. Was the point abandonment? Was it due to a mental illness? Could they help it or not? Willfulness or volition can be addressed with a counselor, and trying to go at it alone can be dangerous.
Cook’s father killed himself, and Cook says one of the biggest things that didn’t help him was the lack of peer support. “I didn’t get enough help when my dad died,” he says. He had troubles for a long time, and it wasn’t until he found and built a network that he began to truly heal years later. “That’s what helped get me over the hump,” he says. Normalizing the experiencing and connecting with others is paramount, but for many who lost loved ones to suicide, such support isn’t readily available.