“We know that many people think about suicide after a significant loss such as a relationship breakup, a death, or a job loss.”

“We know that many people think about suicide after a significant loss such as a relationship breakup, a death, or a job loss.”

Loss and grief are universal human experiences. Everybody knows this. Strange, then, that death and disaster always seem to catch us by surprise. We don’t see them coming because we don’t want to look. And we don’t want to look because we know it’s going to hurt. What we fail to realize is that the pain will only get worse further down the road if we don’t take the time to stare it in the face right now.

Odd as it may sound, you can get a head start on suicide-proofing your kids by helping them confront the inevitability of loss from the very beginning. Naturally, we’re not talking here about tossing them into the deep end of the swimming pool before they’re ready for it. Instead, we’re referring to a slow, gradual, age-appropriate process that leaves kids with a basic understanding of a fundamental truth: while the world can rob us of many beautiful and meaningful things, it can never take away the dignity and purpose we possess as children of God.

It’s easy to associate the idea of grief almost exclusively with the death of a loved one. That’s huge, of course, yet it isn’t the whole story. Deep loss can touch the human psyche at almost every level and in almost every area of life.

Here are some examples:

  •     Death of a parent, sibling, extended family member, or close friend
  •     Rejection by friends (including bullying)
  •     A major life transition: a move to a new town, new school, new community
  •     Financial hardship due to a parent’s loss of employment
  •     Loss of home due to foreclosure or inability to pay rent
  •     Breakup with boyfriend or girlfriend
  •     Disappointment or failure in sports or academics
  •     Death of a pet
  •     Parents’ divorce
  •     Injury or serious illness
  •     Church split or moral failure on the part of spiritual leaders


People can also experience internal losses:

  •     Loss of self-respect
  •     Loss of hopes and dreams
  •     Loss of meaning, significance, or purpose
  •     Loss of identity during adolescence
  •     Loss of faith and trust; whether in parents, adults, society, the church, or God
  •     Loss of social group or support system (due to transition or peer rejection)

The book It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay by Megan Devin has some great information about how to help someone going through grief.

Often when someone is grieving we try and make it all better, but she says that when we acknowledge that grief and that pain that is when healing can start to happen. For example, instead of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” it is better to say “That is really awful”

She also says we try and rush people through the grief and we expect them to be “over it” in a short space of time, she says grief can take a long time to work through we shouldn’t rush people.

Some losses are more shocking than others because they seem to come out of the blue. The death of an eighty-five-year-old grandmother who had cancer may leave you hurting and grieving, but since it was expected, it’s not as shocking as the sudden and untimely loss of a sibling or child.

Unexpected losses are like emotional blind spots. They catch us off guard because they simply aren’t on our radar screen. If you or your child has been hit by one of these bombshells, you need to remember that it’s okay to cry and grieve.


Some things to look out for which are unhealthy reactions to grief include

  •     Isolation
  •     Self-medication (with drugs, alcohol, pornography, or some other addictive behavior)
  •     Self-blame, shame, and guilt
  •     Difficulty sleeping
  •     Fatigue and nausea
  •     Weight loss or gain


People who are grieving often need the support of a loved one, they don’t need counseling. In fact, people who are thrust into counseling immediately after grief, often end up going deeper into the grief and take longer to recover.

Complicated Grief

Most people show some improvement after some time when they are grieving, people with complicated grief often get stuck in their grief, this is when it can be really helpful to see a competent grief therapist.