What to Say and Not Say to Someone Grieving a Suicide

It can be hard to know what to say to a person in the thicket of grief; when someone is grieving a loved one’s suicide, the right words — any words, even — can feel all the more elusive and fraught. Suicide can leave survivors racked with anger, […]

“Don’t place value judgments on the suicide, such as ‘It was a selfish choice, a sin, an act of weakness, or a lack of faith or love or strength,’” Ms. Posnien said.

Tracy Roberts, a writer who lost her sister to suicide, explored this in her essay “Suicide Etiquette”: “After Amy killed herself,” she writes, “someone said, by way of comforting me, ‘Suicide is the coward’s way out.’ Besides being an inane truism, this pronouncement indicted the sister I was mourning. How was that supposed to console?”

I’ve had people say similar things to me, and while I appreciate that their comments were coming from a good (and devastated) place, such judgments made me feel defensive and all the more anxious and bereft.