There is no “one size fits all” approach when supporting suicide loss survivors. The most important thing to remember is that the suicide loss survivor is the expert regarding their own grief. Let them teach you what they need to talk about, cry about, yell about.

The staff at LOSS Community Services participates in ongoing training by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. We subscribe to his Companioning philosophy of grief care: being present to pain.

While I was trained in the classical medical model of bereavement care, I have come to advocate for, instead, a care-giving model I call “companioning.” I’ve always found it intriguing that the word “treat” comes from the Latin root word “tractare,” which means “to drag.” If we combine that with “patient,” we can really get in trouble. “Patient” means “passive long-term sufferer,” so if we treat patients, we drag passive, long-term sufferers. Simply stated, that’s not very empowering.

On the other hand, the word “companion,” when broken down into its original Latin roots, means “messmate”: com for “with” and pan for “bread.” Someone you would share a meal with, a friend, an equal. I have taken liberties with the noun “companion” and made it into the verb “companioning” because it so well captures the type of counseling relationship I support and advocate.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt

For LOSS, supporting suicide loss survivors is a privilege. It is an honor to provide peer support in addition to the support that professional caregivers provide. Please contact us with questions.