I 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.
They find me by doing what I did, desperately Googling in the small hours of darkness, when the despair seeks you out and tortures you. They find my blog and then they reach out to me and all I can say is – have faith – it will get better.
That doesn’t mean there is a magic formula, it doesn’t mean there won’t be times they will feel the pain is so bad they can’t go on, but I can tell them that they can find a way to live again.
The harsh truth is you must want to get better. I do see many stuck and drowning in grief and at first maybe that is what you need to do. But there comes a time when the reality hits, your child is not coming back, and no amount of self-torture will change that. This is the time to pull up your boot straps and start finding ways to live and thrive, honouring the memory of your child and the love you shared.
A short time after Toby died, I went to a suicide survivors support group. I had the date in my diary – I arrived full of hope – someone was going to help me, someone was going to understand and tell me what I needed to do – someone was going to throw me a lifeline to stop me drowning.
What I found was a group of people totally stuck in their grief. A mother who still blamed the train driver for not stopping years and years later, another 10 years later blaming the hospital for not stopping her daughter taking her own life. All I heard was terrible pain and grief; not what I needed.
I left thinking I was doing better than these people and it was only 2 months down the road, although I do know now that for the first year the reality hadn’t really sunk in yet. I never went back.
I started my online support group because I wanted to reach out to other parents, to find out what they were doing, how they were coping. I wanted to hear their stories, but I also wanted to create a community where we could offer hope to each other.
No parent should have to receive their child’s interim death certificate through the post; read police reports and post mortem reports and coroners reports. It is beyond unbearable but somehow, we must find a way to bear it.
I was triggered to write this, this morning because out of the blue a song came on the radio that completely broke me down, I was a weeping mess, sobbing and telling Toby I was sorry. This will happen and will keep happening over and over until I die, but this is just part of my life now and I can get through long periods of not being broken and enjoy life and feel happy most of the time, so yes it does get better; but it never goes away. Of course, we will never truly recover or get over it, nor would we want to as our grief is a product of our love.
This is the song that broke me today – I love you no matter what Toby.