It’s three years today since Toby died. I hate to even write those words. I am on holiday on The Isles of Scilly. I am staying on a tiny island called Brhyer where over every hill is a deserted, white sandy beach, glinting with diamond dust. The views are breathtaking and I have never felt closer to heaven on earth. So I couldn’t be in a better place to remember Toby and reflect on my life since he went away, my life now and a future that beckons.
Coming here this week was a conscious choice. I decided after the first heart wrenching, gut churning, tortuous first anniversary that I would do something special for this week every year from now on to honour my son, to remember him and to honour my grief as a mother. Continue reading
Listen, I don’t like football, don’t watch football and can live with the fact that England didn’t play terribly well and crashed out of the world cup after two games.
However I really don’t like the current trend in the media and social media that seems to accept it is OK to publish to a wide audience cruel, insulting and hurtful personal comments about a young man just because he is a celebrity sportsman. I was driven to write this post after reading a snippet in Amanda Platell’s column in the Daily Mail today.
Cornwall like a lot of the country was battered by devastating storms this winter. Whole swathes of coastline that had remained largely intact for hundreds of years were battered by relentless waves with a force that could not have been predicted. Miles of coastline dissolved into the sea and beaches left completely devoid of sand never to be the same again. One day they were there, the next they were gone.
I live seven miles from Lands’ End. I have a little dog and a large part of my life is spent walking those coast paths and beaches. Immediately my daily routine was changed because I could no longer walk along my little bit of coast path along Newlyn Green with my view of Newlyn Harbour on one side and St Michaels Mount on the other. I had to go round a little park instead across the road where I couldn’t see the sea. It sufficed for our morning constitutional but it just wasn’t as good. We didn’t know when and if our little coast path would ever be the same again. So I adapted to my new routine, not happy about it but I had no choice. Continue reading
After the loss of a child it can be difficult to get through all the special days; birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas.
But Mother’s Day is especially difficult. We are surrounded by fluffy images of Mums and children and all our friends with children are looking forward to a happy day where they get cards, flowers and get taken out for a treat, or are brought breakfast in bed by the hubby and kids.
Toby was my only child, but I still call myself a ‘Mother’, I still feel like a mother, I am a mother and will always be ‘Toby’s Mom’. Continue reading
I read a great quote the other day from Michael J Fox, an American actor who seemingly had everything but was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 30.
“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”
I have found that accepting my son’s death and making peace with it has been the key to my recovery.
So what do I mean by acceptance? Three weeks after Toby’s death I was sitting in the garden with my new puppy. I really felt like downing all the diazepam pills my doctor had given me to take the edge off my pain and walking into the sea. It was only the little puppy gamboling around at my feet that gave me second thoughts. I just wanted the pain to end; it was too much to bear. Continue reading
‘GUILT. Guilt comes from a mistaken belief that we could have, or should have, prevented the death from happening, or from regret over irreconciled aspects of the relationship. In truth, we all do the best we can given our human shortcomings. We cannot predict the future, nor do we have power over the events in our universe. It is human nature to subconsciously blame oneself rather than accept these truths.’ (From a Handbook for Survivors of Suicide by Jeffrery Jackson)
It breaks my heart every time I hear of another young life lost to suicide and another family shattered.
When a newly bereaved parent joins the support group, nine times out of ten the first thing they write about is now they feel responsible for their child’s death.
As parents we feel we should be able to protect our children from all harm, therefore when anything happens to them we tend to blame ourselves. When a child dies by suicide, whether a teenager, a young adult or an older adult we still feel somehow that we should have been able to do something to prevent it.
Why didn’t we see the signs? If we did see the signs, why didn’t we intervene? Why didn’t they come to us for help? We failed them, we let them down. I hear this over and over again.
If course this is illogical. We know we loved our children with every fibre of our being and we would literally have laid down our lives to save them, but we couldn’t. Continue reading
I had a ‘suicide’ drawer in my dresser. When Toby died I accumulated all manner of upsetting papers and documents. The first was an ‘Interim certificate of death’. Imagine going to open the post and seeing ‘Toby Thorn’ ‘Asphyxiation’ and ‘Death’ leaping off the page and stabbing you in the heart.
Toby Thorn, my beautiful boy, my son – seeing in black and white official confirmation of what I had been told but was still struggling to absorb, was just almost too much to bear.
I also received a police report, witness statements from the coroner and had property returned by the police. Later I had a post mortem report, letters from Barclays Bank and Student finance, and newspaper cuttings that reported that the body of a 23 year old young man was found in a field.
One by one these went into the ‘suicide drawer’. I didn’t want to destroy them, for some strange reason I thought I might need them, for what I don’t know. Continue reading