Is it normal to feel….. ?

 “I feel like maybe I wasn’t a good enough friend.  I didn’t know she was so depressed. I mean, I knew she was depressed, but not so bad that she would do this.” - Meg 

“I should have hung out with him when he asked me to.
I wasn’t always there for him” - David

“I wish I’d been nicer to her. If only she knew how much we cared about her.” - Katie

Many survivors – the people who are alive after someone they know dies by suicide – blame themselves. Survivors of suicide often feel at fault for missing warning clues or not realizing the depth of the person’s depression. No one is to blame, not you and not the person who died. You cannot control another person’s thoughts or actions, just as some one cannot control yours. Replaying “if only’s” in your mind is your mind’s way of trying to get some control in an out-of-control time. 

When people die by suicide, they are choosing to end their pain.  They are not choosing to leave us and to be dead. It is not even a choice in the way we think of making decisions. It is not rational thinking. It is a desperate need for relief from the emotional pain of depression. They believe, at that time, that there is no relief except by death.  It is tremendously painful for those left behind.

“We were best friends since 7th grade.  Now I feel angry all the time.  I get mad over the littlest things like when someone doesn’t call me back or if plans get changed.”  -  Brian

You may feel anger when someone you care about dies – anger at a friend, the school, God, the world or even the person who died. You may feel angry that more could have been done or even that the person who died contributed to her death by drinking, doing drugs or not accepting help. Anger at the person who died may make you feel disloyal.  It does not mean you love them any less.  Loving someone means being honest and accepting her good and bad qualities, even if the person is dead. 

You have a right to feel angry. Anger is a part of grieving for a loved one.  Go ahead and feel angry, but be careful not to turn it against yourself or others. Try to get it out in a way that won’t be harmful.  Some people find physical activity like running or working out helpful.  Others use their energy to help others. Acknowledging the feeling of anger and talking about it can help.

Sometimes when people don’t take time to grieve, they become angry.  One writer describes anger this way:

Try to think of your emotions inside you as steam inside a pipe. Just as a steam valve slowly releases steam so the pipe won’t burst, you can set aside time to slowly grieve so you emotions won’t spill out unpredictably and harmfully. – M. Grootman,  When a Friend Dies

“I jump when my cell phone rings late at night. My parents want me to keep it out of my room, but I’m scared to do that. What if someone needs to talk?” - Julia

 “I panic a little when my friends don’t answer their phone or when someone says ‘did you hear about...’ I am afraid something bad will happen to another friend”  -  Jessica

“It has been over a year and I still feel nervous when I hear that song” - Matt

It is common throughout the grieving process to feel anxiety.  Some feel worried they will lose others they love. The world doesn’t seem safe and the fear of losing someone else is near the surface in relationships. 

Anxiety is the result of fearing something bad is going to happen in the future. It is in your thoughts, but it can cause physical symptoms such as stomach or chest pain, sweating, heart palpitations, crying, or air hunger (feeling like there is no air when we breath). Anxiety can occur at the beginning or at times throughout the grieving process. Birthdays, holidays, and gatherings where the loved one should have been can all trigger anxiety. Mild feelings of anxiety are normal, but if the feelings are persistent, you should talk to your health care provider or someone you trust.

“I was at a party and we were all laughing. I suddenly felt so bad that we were having fun, like we forgot.”    - Emily

Some people feel guilty when they forget for a little while and, in time, if they feel less pain like they are erasing the memories of their loved one. Some people feel that if they have new friends, they are being disloyal to the friend who died.  You can have new friends and even enjoy yourself and still be loyal to your friend.  Your friend who died will always be in your memory and in your heart. Learning to live without the physical presence of the loved one does not mean you love them any less. It may be reassuring to think about how your friend would want you to act. Likely, he or she would want you to continuing living your life.  

“I didn’t really know him, but I still feel so sad. I didn’t want to talk to counselors at school though, like I didn’t have a right to be there or something. I thought it should be for his friends.” - Danielle 

You don’t have to be a good friend of the person who died to feel sadness.  You may have liked or admired the person or you may feel the pain of others who were close to the person.  His or her death may bring back the memory of other losses.  It may also make you feel vulnerable.  If this person died, others could also.  The world suddenly feels like an unsafe place.

A death affects the entire community. Even if you never knew the person, you may grieve. You can still talk to your school counselor.  Talking to other kids may also be helpful.  Some may be experiencing the same feelings.  If you are away at college or are no longer a part of the high school community, it may be helpful to talk to others from the community who have experienced the losses.   Although it may be good to be in a new environment with people who have not suffered the losses you have, it may also feel comforting to keep in contact with those who suffered the same losses as you have because they know what you are experiencing.


Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Support and Help Around You