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  • I became a forgotten sibling

    I lost my brother, my beautiful big brother, in 2011. I struggled hard, and so did my parents. I became a hidden sibling. I was told daily to care for my parents, asked how my parents were coping. I tried to talk about my loss, but I was made to feel my parent’s loss over shadowed mine. Children trump siblings. I needed to grieve but I felt I didn’t have permission. I got angry.

    It took counselling to help. I opened up; I told my parents, my friends, their friends, how their words affected me, how I didn’t feel able to grieve.

    Now, I sit on a borough-wide suicide prevention strategy. I root for families, give them a voice, and give real examples of the little support available. I also help professionals to make sure they are ‘human’ and don’t become cold in their professionalism. This helps me the most.

  • Your pain is valid, no matter how complicated it might be

    My mum had been in and out of my life since I was a child. When she died, I felt like I didn’t have a right to feel the way I did because it was all so complicated, so I kept all my pain secret. One day, a friend opened up to me about their similar experiences. It was like someone gave me permission to have these feelings. I cried and cried with grief, loss, pain, and relief. I would say find someone you can talk to. You are not alone, and your feelings are very real and very valid, no matter how complicated it might be.

  • All I could think about her was how she died

    ‘For a long time after she died all I could think about was her death and the manner in which she died. They were torturous thoughts and it pained me that I couldn’t remember anything of her life beforehand. I had no memories, no dreams. But then good thoughts started to come back. Now when I think of her, we’re always enjoying time we spent together.’

  • It helps me having rituals to remember her

    ‘It’s been six years now, and I mark the anniversary of her death by always being with my daughters, doing something together that she would have enjoyed. And on her birthday I do her favourite walk to see the view that she so loved. It helps me having these rituals.’

  • Slowly, we have found we have survived

    ‘If you’d have told me weeks before that this would happen, I would have been fairly certain that I would have been unable to cope, that my own death would have been the only solution to unbearable grief. But it didn’t turn out that way. It is an exhausting, painful and long process, but it is possible to enjoy life again. Slowly, we have found we have survived and the sun has come back into our lives.’

  • I’ll always make time to remember him and celebrate his life

    ‘Three years ago, the day after my birthday, a close friend took his life. At first, I considered cancelling my party, but then went ahead, bringing friends together in a safe, loving space. Each year, around my birthday, I know I’ll always make time to remember him and celebrate his life.’

  • I knew I wasn’t alone

    ‘As I left my first support group meeting for people bereaved by suicide I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew that I wasn’t alone’.

  • It’s essential to talk to someone, it doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong

    ‘After my son died I found it really difficult – I felt I had failed as a father and a husband. My ‘practical’ self was telling me I had to fix the situation for my wife and two other sons. I was scared to talk about me and thought I would be perceived as weak and not able to care for my family in the way they needed me to. I had some very dark times, but with time I realised it was the exact opposite – talking about how I was feeling made me stronger and more able to deal with what had happened.I  would say to anyone that it’s essential to talk to someone, be it a friend, family, someone at work, or your GP, about how you feel – it does not make you any less of a man to do so. Losing my son will never change, but I now know that talking makes me better equipped to cope.’

  • I think people were scared to talk about my friend’s suicide

    ‘I needed people to say the same things they might have said if she had been a sister or had died in an accident: that they were sorry, that they would listen, that they were there for me. No-one did. I think they were – still are – scared to talk about suicide and thought it was best not to mention my friend. It’s as if she is best forgotten – and she did die a long time ago. But I haven’t forgotten her.’

  • Seek out people who will show you compassion

    ‘Without the kindness and prayers of our church, I don’t know how my family would have coped with the enormous pain and suffering of losing three members of our family to suicide. I’d say to other families who become bereaved to seek out people to have around you who will show you compassion.’

  • I have been first on the scene after many suicides

    ‘I have been first on the scene after a number of suicides and they have affected me deeply. I recognise each time that it’s the start of significant grief, pain and guilt for the deceased’s loved ones. I find myself often reflecting on the words: ‘They died on the battlefield of their own personal conflict but those left behind carry the burden’.’

  • I felt I had to be strong

    ‘I felt I had to stay strong to support the rest of my family, especially my heart-broken son, my grandchildren and great grandchildren. But I also had my own pain to deal with as she had been like a daughter to me for 45 years.’

  • It was so hard to tell them that their dad had killed himself

    ‘It was so hard to tell them that their dad had killed himself. I tried to avoid it, said he’d had an accident, but how long could I keep that up for? I thought they’d understand better when they were older, but how old? I can’t understand it and I’m an adult – why do I think there is a magic age at which it’ll be OK for them to know? Then I realised I was just trying to protect myself but, actually, more than ever they needed to be able to trust me. Turns out they’d guessed something wasn’t right all along and they just wanted me to be honest so we could talk about it together.’

  • I felt responsible for his death

    ‘As his mum, I felt responsible for his death; that I should have seen his inward struggle and that I had missed the signs. The battle to deal with the intensity and complexity of his death hit our family and whole community with the ferocity and fallout of an atom bomb.’

  • How could all the love we had not have been enough?

    ‘I’ll never understand – how could all that love we had not have been enough? How could death seem preferable to that…to me?’

  • I also felt suicidal

    ‘I too felt suicidal. Then the pangs of guilt would smash through my head about how could I feel that way, when my other two boys and husband needed me now more than ever.’

  • I feel my mum is stigmatised by the label ‘suicide’

    ‘I feel sometimes that people define my mum’s life by her death. She’s stigmatised by the label “suicide”. If someone dies from cancer or a car crash they are not blamed, nor have their death held against them like a character flaw. But with suicide I felt I had to explain how kind, lovely and giving she was. How she wasn’t selfish, how she hadn’t done this for attention but because depression had robbed her of her will to live.’

  • I will focus on remembering with joy all the good times

    ‘So I have made a pact with myself, which some days I can stick to, and other days not, that I will focus on remembering with joy all the good times I enjoyed and not the guilt-laden “what ifs” that can’t bring me anything but pain.’

  • His death consumed every hour of every day

    ‘His death consumed every minute of every hour of every day and on the rare occasions I became distracted from these thoughts, I felt guilty for not feeling “the pain”.’

  • I started talking – I have found the strength to move forward

    ‘I spent a large amount of time trying to ‘solve’ why my son had decided to take his life. I internalised all these feelings which made things worse and worse for me. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and let life pass me by. I ended up reaching crisis point and was desperately trying to escape from the permanent anguish I felt. It was at this point that I decided I needed to share how I felt. That has been the game changer. Since I started talking about what I feel I have found the strength to move forward.’

  • There were others out there who were by my side

    In the chaos after the death, when I felt so alone, so desperate and so dazed, it helped to read something that described a bit of what I was feeling and what was happening. It felt a little as though there were others out there who were by my side and would know what I was going through.

  • I felt so alone, so desperate and so dazed

    In the chaos after the death, when I felt so alone, so desperate and so dazed, it helped to read something that described a bit of what I was feeling and what was happening. It felt a little as though there were others out there who were by my side and would know what I was going through