Without any warning, in the early morning of 15th August 2014, my partner's daughter, one of our children, took her own life. We couldn't have known, and even if we had found her immediately, we couldn't have saved her.
I have written many thousands of blog posts in my head since that morning, here is just one of them...
You planned it so well. Your Dad was meant to find you, I know that. You couldn't have known I'd have a bad night's sleep and pull your 5 year old brother into bed for an extra half hour with me. You thought we'd be downstairs. You certainly won't have expected that I'd ask your brother to go and tell you to turn off your alarm. He wasn't sure if you were dead, he said he thought maybe you were pretending. I knew from what he said. I knew as I ran to your room. I knew when I saw you, and as I touched your cheek. I had to tell your Dad, and I didn't want to be that person to do that to him. I didn't realise I was screaming and he was already on his way. We both saw we were far too late, we knew that. And that was really the moment when time. just. stopped.
The Police were here for the next 5 hours. Everyone treated us with the utmost care, they really did. You'd have been pleasantly surprised, and possibly disappointed you couldn't find anything to chastise them for. There were so many people in the house, we sat in the kitchen. Your brothers and sisters were in the living room, away from what was happening, in a bubble of Cartoon Network and silence, together under blankets on the sofa. No-one had any socks and it was cold, a Policeman guarded the stairs and it seemed wrong to ask him to let me get some.
They brought down your note. I hadn't seen it, I hadn't even considered it. So typical of you to write so much. I couldn't read it all until they brought us back a copy 4 days later. I couldn't focus my eyes for long enough. I think of you writing and my heart stings so much. You must have felt beyond despair. You knew how much this would hurt us, you must have been hurting so much more to do it.
You said we aren't to be too sad. I don't know how sad is too sad, but I don't think it's possible to be any more sad than we are now. You have left a gaping hole in our family that can never be filled.
You said it will be easier for us now. It gives me no comfort to know that I'll never have to deal with your frustrations and anger again. It was a part of you, and you take everything that your child offers, be it good or bad. We didn't care that you were Autistic, you were the same person you'd always been. You were our child, our sibling, and it didn't make us love you any less. No-one is ever perfect all of the time, and you were less trouble than most, for most of every day. I know life was hard work for you, but we didn't realise just how hard.
The meltdowns were awful, but the rewards you offered were so great, couldn't you see that? You were so clever and witty and beautiful. Your obsessions with TV shows and movies, your enthusiasm for the small things, how could you ever think that life would be easier now without you? How can Christmas ever be great again without you there? How can we ever play a board game again without taking note of the space at the table where you always sat? Dr Who was an event when you were there, it just wasn't the same last weekend, and it'll never be as good again.
Never again will we sit downstairs and listen to you play your guitar, no more handpainted birthday cards or fantastic artwork. Who will be the one to be the first there when one of the small boys cry now? Who can I moan at for running on the stairs? Who will I talk to when I make a coffee late at night before bed?
You were hard work, you took up more time than any of our other
children, but someone had to be that person. As you got older the mood swings were at least more predictable. I
suppose if we knew they were coming, so did you, and you hated the lack of control. You hated the inability to stop yourself, and you would beat yourself up afterwards. You were so worried
that you'd break up the family, but that wouldn't have happened. We've
been there all this time, we weren't going to give up on you as you
became an adult.
You said in your note that your funeral isn't to be lame. We've done our best. Cardboard Tom Jones will be there. You have a purple coffin and a French Legion Of Honour medal just like Gavroche in Les Miserables. Your 5 year old brother will press the button to close your curtains, and you'll leave with the TARDIS. We mentioned Sunflowers and everyone has run away with it, you'd be so delighted. There are the most amazing and beautiful Sunflowers everywhere and they are all for you.
We will always wish that we could have known, we could have seen. Why did you ask me for a Winter coat, why did you arrange a sleepover with your friends, why buy tickets to Manchester Pride? Was there a glimmer of hope that you'd stay longer? As long as I live I will look for the clues, I will search for what I should have known, and I will wish you had told us that you were so desperate inside.
We aren't angry with you, we know you loved us, and you
knew we loved you, and I will always be glad that I told you so the day
before you died. We miss you. We will all always miss you.
Life might have been a little simpler if you'd been less angry, but you missed the point. Life will never be easier without you xxx
In a study published by the Autism Research Centre
in June 2014 it was found that around 66% of adults with Asperger's Syndrome
(high-functioning Autism) have had suicidal thoughts, and 35% had
planned or attempted suicide. Because of the nature of Autism, they may be more likely to actually carry it through to a conclusion.
Childline Freephone 0800 1111 - for children and young people who are struggling and need to talk or need help
The Samaritans - for anyone who needs to talk or is struggling
Child Bereavement UK - for those who have lost a child, and for children who have lost someone. Advice for anyone spending time with bereaved children.
Winston's Wish - the charity for bereaved children
Autism Help.Org - advice and help for families of children with Autism
Papyrus UK - Prevention Of Young Suicide