Chapter 2: A different kind of loss

If the person who died was a family member

I've been there
Nicole talks about supporting Grandparents in grief after suicide loss.(3:22)Video transcript

When my aunt died, I was not allowed to go to the funeral, and it was never talked about. Suicide was not spoken about openly. When I asked about her children, before I could even say their names, my mother immediately changed the subject.

After my brother’s suicide, my sister refused to speak his name. She didn’t even attend the funeral. She had always been my biggest supporter and so, in addition to my brother, I felt like I lost her too.

If the person who died was a member of your family, there may be significant changes and challenges. Differences in how individuals grieve can cause tension.

Families can be both a great strength and a source of discomfort. It can be challenging to balance your needs with those of others in your family where different styles, ages, and personalities exist.

Click on the boxes below to further explore each one.

Changing roles



Roles may shift. For example, if the person who died was a main income earner or a person counted on for advice, who will now fill that role?


How family members grieve



Each person had their own relationship with the person who died, and their grief will reflect that. How each person is affected and how they express their grief can vary a lot.


What can help

  • Keep in mind that it won’t be possible for anyone to completely take the place of the person who died. Others in the family may step up, but not right away.
  • Some family members may not be “available” after the death, either to fill a role or to support others. Figuring out how to adjust roles can be painful and time-consuming, requiring everyone’s patience.
  • Remind yourself that there each of you will grieve differently.  More important than for everyone to agree or be on the same page is for each person to recognize and acknowledge the feelings of others along with their own.
  • Recognize that not everyone will view the person who died or their death in the same way. Some may have knowledge about the person who died that others do not.
  • Try to talk openly and honestly, considering the needs of others.

Helpful resources - Module 11 - When your parent has died - Module 12 - When your child has died - Module 14 - When your grandparent has died