When a Loved One Dies by Suicide

Comfort, Hope, and Healing for Grieving Catholics

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: December 25, 2020

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Winner of a second-place award in the general interest category from the Association of Catholic Publishers and honorable mention in grief and bereavement from the Catholic Media Association.


If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you're having suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.


When someone you love dies by suicide, confusion, shame, and guilt often add to the emotional upheaval and spiritual turmoil in your life. When a Loved One Dies by Suicide was written by Catholics who have lost a loved one due to suicide. The contributors share their personal stories of loss, of learning to cope with the crushing grief, of finding comfort in faith and community, and of discovering hope as they began to move forward again.

Suicide, although common, too often is hidden in our culture and in the Catholic Church. When a Loved One Dies by Suicide dispels the misconceptions about what the Church teaches about suicide and offers a wealth of guidance and support to help you find your own path toward healing. The contributors include Deacon Ed Shoener, Bishop John P. Dolan, Msgr. Charles Pope, Leticia Adams, Tom and Fran Smith, and clinical experts in the field of mental health and suicide.

In this book, you will find:

  • encouragement with practical matters such as taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually;
  • ways to let others know what you need and find a network of support;
  • guidance to tell your story when you’re ready to share it;
  • prayers of comfort and encouragement;
  • solace, hope, and healing from within the rich traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church; and
  • information for how to help others experiencing a similar loss, if and when you are drawn to do so.

Product Details

Pages: 128

Trim size: 5 x 7 inches

ISBN: 9781646800131

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

Complementary Film Series

When a Loved One Dies by Suicide: Comfort, Hope, and Healing for Grieving Catholics now includes a complementary film series comprised of eight short videos to correspond with the book’s eight chapters.  Each film is narrated by the chapter author and offers individuals and parishes the ability to facilitate small grief support groups or one-on-one bereavement sessions.  Produced in partnership with Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries and the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, the film series and corresponding print materials (summary, discussion questions, and points of reflection) are a complete companion to the original book.

Content and Safety Notes

Suicide and suicide loss are sensitive topics. It is important to be aware of what you or someone in your group may experience while using this resource. The introduction to the Reflection Guide includes extensive notes on content and safe viewing. We encourage you to review these notes before beginning to use this resource. Group leaders are also encouraged to review the Facilitation Guide.

Although the films in this resource are not graphic and do not include descriptions of the means of suicide, the stories are sensitive. We recommend watching the films with family members, and friends, or in the context of a grief support group meeting. We do not recommend watching more than one film at a time. Please think about how you can care for your mental, emotional, and physical health during and after viewing.

If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, or if you are concerned for the safety of someone you know, it is important to seek help immediately. Crisis phone numbers for several countries are listed below. If you are looking for local mental health services or information in another location or language, we encourage you to search online or reach out to your local parishes and health care providers.

Australia: 000 | Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or 911 | European Union: 112 | New Zealand: 111 | United States: 988 or 911 | United Kingdom: 999

To learn more about this resource and how to use it, please click here.

Please note: This resource and films address difficult and sensitive topics, and may not be appropriate for a young audience. It is not recommended for people aged 17 and younger.

  • “A steady help and great source of comfort.”

    “I have lost two children to suicide, one in 2006 and another in 2011. For anyone grieving such heart-rending loss, this book will be a steady help and great source of comfort. Each of the shared stories in this book illustrates that—with faith and loving support—a transformation from a life of intense grief to one of hope and healing, of post-traumatic growth, is truly possible.” 

    Ann Marie McCrone
    Grief Support Facilitator
    St. Peter's Cathedral
    Scranton, Pennsylvania

  • “A bright path forward.”

    “When our family lost our son Zachary to suicide, we rediscovered the power of community, especially our Catholic community. The community embrace during those early months allowed us to find meaning in tragedy and helped us to move forward. This book is a welcome contribution to the faith journey that accompanies survivors of suicide loss and is a bright path forward for those turning to their faith during this terrible ordeal.”

    Dan Misleh
    Executive Director
    Catholic Climate Covenant

  • “Long overdue, compassionate, and practical.”

    “During the last twenty years I’ve accompanied many individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. This is a long overdue, compassionate, and practical resource for people of faith trying to make sense of losing a loved one to suicide. These pages are filled with deep wisdom, accurate Church teaching, and realistic suggestions based on the latest psychological research to help survivors cope and heal in the aftermath of suicide.”

    Roy Petitfils
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Author of Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

  • “This book will help you move from grief to grace.”

    “I could not put this book down! The Holy Spirit is truly alive in it under the mantle of the Catholic Church and in the raw honesty coming forth from the testimonies of people who have had a loved one dieby suicide. Having lost our son, Thomas, to suicide in 2014, When a Loved One Dies by Suicide spoke to my heart in a new way that transcends the tragedy of suicide. This book will help you, too, move from grief to grace.”

    Anne Redlinger
    Catholic Writer
    San Diego, California

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