I don’t want this to be the way my story ends….

Bookwithblankpages_thumb4Hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, since I lost Toby I have pondered my desire to carry on living. I still don’t know how I have carried on, because if you had asked me 2 years ago how I would cope with losing Toby I would  have told you with 100% certainty that not only would  I not want to go on, I wouldn’t be able to.

Well, life is full of surprises and I am constantly surprised, even shocked, at the way I have coped. I don’t think surviving after your child dies makes you brave, but I do feel  I have displayed a great deal of courage over the last year and a bit.

My Dad was diagnosed with cancer days after Toby’s funeral and I nursed him until his death just a few short months later. That was brave. You could say I had no choice, but there is always a choice. I could have collapsed under a haze of anti-depressants or alcohol or stress, but I got up every day and not only did what I had to do, I looked after my Dad, took him to hospital appointments and made his last days as happy as I could in the circumstances.

I had no space to grieve for my son. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise, I don’t know and I can’t say, even now.

Then I was left alone, but I got up every day and did all the normal things. I showered, did my hair, put on make up, went out. I did not look or act like a grieving Mum. When I say that I should explain that I am aware that most people including myself have preconceptions about how people should behave in certain circumstances. I myself was guilty of judging Kate McCann when Madeleine McCann went missing because she didn’t look like a Mum who had just lost her little girl. She appeared on TV emotionless, calm and collected and spoke to the press and TV people. I expected her to be a quivering, weeping wreck. When I lost Toby I totally understood. I went into shock and when a policeman knocked on my door and told me my son had taken his own life I just walked around and made tea and thought that I had to cancel the chimney sweep.

The next day I went to Argos to collect a juicer I had ordered on-line the day before I knew my son was dead. I was standing in the queue in Argos thinking ‘what would people think of me if they knew I was in Argos the day after my son died’. It was bizarre. I know now that I was in shock and I know now that my body and brain had shifted into some kind of ‘emergency shut down’ mode that would enable me to function over the next few weeks when I had to honour my son and lay him to rest and say goodbye. I had to give him a send off that would enable his friends to say goodbye. I couldn’t collapse, I had to go on and I did.

I can’t remember a single day when I didn’t get up and get showered and do my hair and make up. All my logic and instincts told myself that I should be lying on the floor weeping for at least 6 months.

So it has been a learning experience and I have learned not to judge anyone who is grieving and I hope people won’t judge me and think that just because I appear to be strong and brave and coping well that I didn’t love my son with every fibre of my being and that I don’t miss him with an aching, searing intensity every second of every day.

So what next for me? I don’t know is the answer. To all intents and purposes I am doing amazingly well, but it is still early days. Since Toby died, I lost my Dad, I got a job, I wrote my blog, I wrote newspaper articles about my experience and became a trustee for a charity that is working to reduce young suicide called PAPYRUS. I got a puppy and I completed a counselling course and joined a choir and even went to Salsa classes for a while.

How the hell I did any of that stuff I don’t know, maybe I just have an inner strength and survival mechanism that spurs me on. Have I had dark times? Yes of course I have, many, many and as I started this blog post I have thought many times about just quitting this life.

So what stops me? The other day it hit me in the stomach and made me weep. I don’t want this to be the end of my story.

I don’t want to be the Headline ‘Grieving Mum couldn’t go on after losing her son’.

I want the headline of my obituary to read ‘Despite facing adversity Anne……. Fill in the blanks –

climbed Everest and raised a million pounds for charity….. met the love of her life……….. started a support group that helped hundreds of parents…….. her efforts reduced young suicide….. won the lottery and bought a villa in Tuscany… won the Nobel peace prize …..opened an animal sanctuary

This is the start of the next chapter, and Toby’s death is a chapter in my life that I would rather leave out of my life story, but I can’t – it’s in there, but there are more chapters to come so this is not the way my story ends.

This entry was posted in bereavement, Grief, Healing, Loss, parents, suicide and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I don’t want this to be the way my story ends….

  1. M Culpin says:

    Thank you Ann, every comment you make and have made before mirrors my thoughts and pain. You truly are inspiring, Toby would be proud of you. God Bless xx Maggie Culpin

  2. niceonema says:

    WELL DONE Annwae on not only surviving but being able to write your blog. Keep on doing what you are doing because it is the only way for a survivor to live. I have lost 3 children, 2 to suicide and I understand automatic pilot syndrome very well. Sadly my head is in too big a mess to put my thoughts down and that is why I applaud you, God bless.


  3. Melissa says:

    I can identify with everything you have said. Keep writing.

  4. Stephie Jones says:


    Thank you for starting this blog, I just wish that I had found one similar when my beloved son died in 2007. Your descriptions of how you dealt with it match mine in so many ways. Some people I am sure felt that I should have been screaming and crying every minute if the day. I was inside (and still am) and you so aptly describe the aching, searing intensity of missing our loved ones. Although I have 3 other children and grandchildren I feel that I can never be truly joyful or happy again although I get much pleasure out of them and other small things in life too. I had been widowed twice before my son’s death but losing my son was far far worse and only those who have lost children will understand.

    Thank you again for your blog which I shall always read. I will also look up your charity to see if I can help in anyway.

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