October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And we will be focusing the blog and our Youtube channel on topics and questions related to the matter.
This is such a heavy and sensitive topic, sometimes people can shy away from wanting to talk about miscarriages and infant death. Others are at a loss of what to say to support their friend, family member, or loved one who is going through such a tragic time.
The Psychological Impact
Often times the person who was carrying the baby has a lot of grief, guilt, shame, and will blame themselves for a miscarriage. They believe somehow they are to blame, that something in their ability to carry the child has failed. They might not know how to communicate what they need during this difficult time. There is a lot of happiness and cheer when someone announces their pregnancy, and to lose it, can sometimes feel so overwhelming and lonely to have to then tell everyone they have lost the pregnancy.
How to support friends or family who have suffered a miscarriage:
- Acknowledge the loss
- Don’t worry about finding the right thing to say
- Let them take the lead
- Don’t try to cheer them up with success stories about others
Acknowledge the loss:
Acknowledging what your loved one is going through is a big step in supporting them. The person might want to talk about it but doesn’t know how to bring it up. They might want support but are unable to ask for it without the acknowledgment that it happened. Tip toeing around someone who is experiencing this type of pain and grief, is the last thing that can help the situation. Speak to them, listen, tell them you are sorry for their loss.
Don’t worry about finding the right thing to say:
Nobody knows what to say in a time like this. And that’s okay. Even telling your loved one that you’re not sure the right thing to say, but that you are there for them might be enough in the moment. Follow up with them, ask them how they’re doing, ask them if they want to talk about it. And respect their privacy if they do not.
Let them take the lead:
Instead of launching into a dialogue about how you know someone who went through something similar, but then had success later on, just listen. Listen to what they are talking about and feeling, and empathize with them. Offering unsolicited advice on what they should try next is not very helpful. But allowing them to share their story with you can make a big difference.
Don’t try to cheer them up by success stories of others:
Like stated above, giving stories of others experiences, or offering advice on other ways to be successful can be really off-putting. Make sure you are supporting your loved one with an open ear.
To read more about this topic, head on over to this article by Monica N Starkman, MD at Psychology Today.
September is Suicide Awareness month, and our blog has been focusing on the subject. There can be such a stigma around suicide, that we want to encourage people to talk about their mental health and their struggles. When we talk about suicide, it can give us a better understanding of how to prevent it. And how to help those who might be hurting.
Today we want to explain the difference between passive suicide ideation and active suicide ideation. The difference can be thought to be very simple, but often time we know it can be much more complex than we think.
Passive Suicide Ideation is when you have thoughts of suicide or self harm but no plan to carry it out.
Active Suicide Ideation is when you have thoughts of suicide or self harm, and have developed a plan to carry it out.
Sometimes we think that there are no signs that can help us recognize when someone has formulated a plan to carry out suicide. Often times it can be a private topic or feeling, that people will keep to themselves. But other times, there can be warning signs that we can look out for. According to an article on a website called Better Help, there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for pertaining to suicide ideation. They break them down into three categories, behavioral, physical, and psychosocial.
- Giving away possessions
- Talking about death, dying, or not being around in the future
- Using phrases that make death sound like an option such as “When I am gone,” “If I were to kill myself…”
- Saying goodbye or making amends with loved ones
- Collecting items that are harmful or potentially dangerous
- Social withdraw
- Increased drug or alcohol usage
- Not participating in activities that were once enjoyable
- Engaging in risky or potentially harmful behaviors
- Scars from past attempts at suicide or self-harm
- Drastic or sudden change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Chronic illness
- Cognitive Symptoms:
- Obsessing over the belief that the only end to emotional pain is through death or suicide
- Feeling Helpless or Hopeless
- Feeling that emotional pain is never ending
- Self-hatred/ self-loathing
- Emotional pain
- Frequent or drastic mood swings
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Intense anxiety and increased irritability
We at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling encourage you to seek help if you or a loved one are having any type of suicide ideation. The benefits of therapy can be of utmost importance when someone is feeling hopeless. We take a very supportive, caring, and individualistic approach to treating our clients when they are struggling. And there are many wonderful therapists, counselors, Psychiatrists, and Psychologists out there who do the same.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
At some point in our lives, we will lose someone we love. Grief can be a very complicated and heavy thing, that doesn’t necessarily go away but definitely gets easier. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no perfect way to deal with losing someone you love.
When you lose someone to suicide, the grieving process can be quite different. There is often shock, sadness, guilt, and anger tied to the loss. While the process can be different for the person experiencing the grief, it can also be perceived as different from the outside. Often when you lose someone to old age, an accident, or a terminal illness, the loss gains sympathy and compassion.
However sometimes when you lose someone to suicide, there can sometimes be judgement and blame from the outside. This is why the grief can be so different when suicide is involved. Not only is the loved one blaming themselves, the people around them can sometimes put that blame on them as well.
Focusing on the happier times with your loved one is part of grieving. Thinking back on fond memories, and talking about the more positive times can help encourage acceptance and fill the void of loss. However with suicide, the memories can be clouded with anger and sadness. When you don’t understand why your loved one took their own life, positive memories can be harder to remember than negative ones.
According to Deborah Serani Psy.D. and her article on Psychology Today, there are a few ways to help a survivor of suicide:
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death.
- Ask the survivor if and how you can help.
- Encourage openness.
- Be patient.
Like any type of loss, the people that surround the survivor can be stuck with how to respond or act. And it can come off as neglect or like the person doesn’t care. But usually it’s a lack of knowledge on how to help. Making sure you are verbally letting the person know how much you care, and asking them how they would like to be helped during this difficult time can go a long way.
If you are the survivor of someone who has died by suicide, Dr Serani also has some tips:
- Ground yourself. Remind yourself every day that you are not responsible for your loved ones decision. Do not let guilt become a part of your process.
- Don’t put a limit on your grief. It takes time. And however long it takes, or whatever you need to get through it is okay.
- Plan ahead. Sometimes certain places, dates, memories can be difficult for a long time. This is normal. Know that grief also ebbs and flows. So if you’re doing great for a long time, and a memory sets you back, it’s okay. It’s still a part of the process.
- Make connections. Seek help. Whether it’s through a therapist, a friend, or a support group. It can be very beneficial to be surrounded by people who care during this difficult time.
- Give yourself permission. To be happy again. To still be sad. To be whatever it is you need to be.
If you or anyone you know might be suffering or having thoughts of suicide, seek help at the National Suicide Lifeline 1800-273-8255
We are well into September now, and Fall is upon us. It can mean many things like cooler weather, back to school, and day light hours getting shorter and shorter. September is also Suicide Prevention Month. With the high profile death by suicides that occurred this past summer with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, our society is still mourning the loss of these very public passings.
Suicide is a very hard thing to understand to most of us. We have so many questions, and the answers are not always available to us. Especially if we have been affected by suicide, often our questions will remain unanswered because our loved ones are now gone.
Are their warning signs, or illnesses that might predispose someone to suicide? It is often hard to pinpoint what someone is going through internally, but some say if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or have had suicide in your family you could be more likely to have suicidal ideation.
Other social factors not to be overlooked are feeling overwhelmed with the state of our politics/economic turmoil. Experiencing financial burdens or stressors. Going through a divorce, or losing a job can also be triggers. Most often there is an intense feeling of hopelessness and helplessness felt by the individual. They often see no solution whatsoever for their current situation.
One key factor in preventing suicide is to speak openly about it. It is not something that should be hidden, or kept a secret. The more we talk about it, the more we can do to help and prevent it. Providing a safe environment around suicide, is important in understanding it and getting those at risk the help they need.
If you or someone you know is suffering, you can refer them to Biltmore Psychology and Counseling if you are local to Arizona. Or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource. They have a national number to call
and their website has great information.