Was I a complete failure as a parent?

toby baby 2One of the traumas parents often face in the complex and tragic aftermath of losing a child to suicide, is the feeling of being a complete failure as a parent.

We are supposed to protect them. From the time they are born we sneak into their room at night to check they are still breathing, we put plastic protectors on sharp corners and locks on the kitchen cupboards. We sacrifice our own social lives to drop them off and pick them up rather than allowing them to travel home on their own, and when they are grown, we can’t sleep until we hear the key in the front door indicating they are home.

How often do you hear or read about parents feeling proud when their children achieve milestones such as exam results, University degrees, getting married having babies or getting a new job or a promotion? ‘We must have done something right’, they crow. ‘Oh, you must be so proud, their friends say’. Continue reading

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Letting go…..

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Today, 7 years and 6 months later, I’ve finally decided to throw out the shirt Toby was wearing when he died.

It is so hard to let go of anything that reminds me of Toby, but the other day I was rooting around in my drawers under the bed looking for a pair of black tights and suddenly came across it.

At that moment it struck me that every time I see it, I get a feeling of dread punching me in the gut so why do I want to keep it, it symbolises death, just like the black colour? Every time in the past I looked at it, then put it away again, I just felt I couldn’t let it go as it was the last item of clothing to touch my son’s body. Continue reading

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Will it get better?

grief-statueI often get emails from desperate parents who have lost their child to suicide recently, and the first thing they ask is ‘Will it get better?’

In the early weeks and months this is all you really want to hear. I tell them ‘yes it will’, but of course there is a huge caveat, a huge amount of small print and terms and conditions that go along with this.

But hearing from someone 7 years down the road, offering a glimmer of hope can mean the world to a parent going through their worst nightmare. Continue reading

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It will get better……

I saw this today posted from The Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide in America. Having just heard from someone with a recent loss, I think this mostly describes how I feel. Time does not heal, the sadness never ends, you don’t get over it but in time it does get easier. So if your loss is recent, if nothing else, have faith that it will get better. At times it will feel worse than ever but it won’t hurt this badly forever.

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Happy Birthday

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Dear Toby,

This year you would be 31 in earth years, born 22nd December 1987 in the early hours of the morning in Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. You were due on the 29th but came a week early so I was home by Christmas Eve. I watched the movie Meet me in St Louis the day you were born, the one where Judy Garland sings ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, so every time I hear that song I cry.

I still feel I should celebrate the day you entered the world, even though you are not here anymore. Its different from the anniversary as that is the day you left the world which is full of sad and tragic memories. I’ve still got Beatrice the black and white cow soft toy that some of your Dad’s friends bought you for your first birthday. Even when you were grown you used to fall asleep with her tucked under your arm, she now lives on my bed and sometimes I cuddle her and try to feel you. Continue reading

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Why are we so uncomfortable talking about death?

Living alone and being single, I often find myself in situations where I am meeting people for the first time. I belong to walking groups, a writing group, a women’s business group and a dining club, so it is common for me to find myself facing the normal ‘getting to know you’ type questions that people ask when you first meet.

I don’t walk up to people and say  ‘Hi, I’m Anne and my 23 year old son died 7 years ago, and by the way he took his own life’. However, the fact I do not have a living child often naturally comes into conversations, as at my time of life most people will tell you about their children and how much they delight in their grandchildren. I refuse to NOT mention my son just to avoid the awkward silences that often follow, and I have just got used to answering the question about children by saying that ‘yes, I do have a son, but unfortunately he died when he was 23, 7 years ago’. I don’t always volunteer the suicide bit unless it feels relevant. Continue reading

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Seven years on

I am both heartbroken and thankful when someone emails me about reading my blog. Thankful that they have found me. Heartbroken because they are on the same painful journey of learning to live again after the life shattering event of not only losing a child but coming to terms with the manner of their death. Death from suicide encompasses huge loss along with stigma, guilt, judgment, confusion and isolation.

I haven’t written a new post for nearly a year so thought it might be helpful to look back and reflect on where I am today and how far I have travelled on this lonely road of rebuilding my new normal.

I consider myself fortunate that I had the strength and resourcefulness to go and find support once I realised no one was going to come along and pick me up and lead me to help. Continue reading

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