Tuesday, 15 December 2015

16 Months After Losing Elspeth....

It is now 16 months since we lost Elspeth and we're well into preparations for Christmas. We've bought and ordered presents for most people and even sent some cards. While it may not be as far as most of you, it's far in advance of the place we were at this time last year.

We even took down the decorations from the loft and got the living room ready for our Christmas tree - which we bought this evening. It's gorgeous - just look at the smile on him! We are cooking on gas.


We're also very aware of how broken we all still are. Since last month our teenager in hospital had a temporary inpatient visit from their father. Taking my partner to hospital, and passing straight through triage for the 3rd time in 2 years, this time in an ambulance with flashing lights, was not in my plan....

Fortunately he is going to be okay, and has spent the last 3 weeks being tested and given good news and medicines and is in a lot less pain. All of the important bits are strong and healthy,  it's just his heart that is broken...

This isn't a string of bad luck. This is all because we lost Elspeth.

I wanted to call this post 'Five Reasons Why You shouldn't Be A Victim To Suicide This Christmas', but I was worried people might think that was maudlin. The fact is although a lot of people find this time of year too hard, too much, it's what comes next that's hardest. The party is over and the focus has gone. I mentioned the lack of direction that follows Christmas in a recent post about coping with your first Christmas after losing a child. So I changed the title.

Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Decide To Leave This Christmas Or In The period Thereafter.

1.  Because you aren't alone.

Elspeth felt alone. She worried her friends didn't really like her. She felt she was a burden to her family. She didn't think she fit in anywhere, when in fact she fit in everywhere. She didn't let anyone know how bad she was feeling and tried instead to just make everyone happy and say what she thought we wanted to hear. She was so wrong.

We wanted Elspeth's friends to be able to participate in her service if they wanted. Five were brave enough, and felt strongly enough, to come to the front and read aloud the beautiful words they had written to the packed room and all those who spilled outside. And anyone who wanted to was also welcome to bring a sunflower... She was never alone, she just failed to see the people around her.


2. Because it WILL NOT be better without you.

Elspeth had Aspergers and it affected her temperament. Occasionally she would swear and scream and throw things without any control. She took up a lot of our time. She takes up more of our time now, I think about her regularly all day. Sometimes she fills up my head for hours on end. I wish I could tell her once again that I'd talk to her when she'd calmed down. I wish I was still choosing her presents to wrap.

It will never be better without you.

3. Because you will be missed.

The guy in the shop, the woman on the desk at work, your Nan. That girl who smiles when she sees you. The kid in the pram at the bus stop. Your schoolfriend, your neighbour, your wife, your child, your brother. Everyone your life touched. You will be missed. You will be remembered. I still remember Chris, a boy who took his life 27 years ago when I was at College. I remember him often. He was a nice lad.

Elspeth believed we'd just have a funeral and then get on with the rest of our lives. Sixteen months later and our lives are still on pause. There is nothing of our old lives that we can recognise ahead. We are still in unfamiliar territory, bumbling through, blinded by the sidelights and just trying to keep going in a straight line. I don't think it ever ends, I think you just have to learn to cope with it.

4. Because you become a statistic.


In 2013 a heartbreaking 6,708 people in the UK took their own lives. 18 people a day couldn't see how to carry on. 
A study by The Campaign Against Living Miserably found that over 40% of men aged 18-45 have contemplated suicide.  
In England and Wales, suicide is the leading cause of death among men and women aged between 20 and 34 years of age.

All that you ever could have done, and all that you ever can have been, is gone. To those who don't know you, you become a statistic and can never become anything more.

Elspeth was an artist and a musician, she was a poet and a comedian. She was brilliant with babies and little children, and she had an eye for design. Her timing was excellent and she could tell you more about Kanye West than his Mum. The world was her oyster, but if she wanted to work in the corner shop that would have been okay too. Just something, anything. Instead nothing. All those years of practice, and she didn't use it...

5. Because it's always worth carrying on.

It only stays the same forever if you don't change anything.

Carry on, but not as you are now. If you were bleeding, you would get treatment. If a car was coming towards you, you'd move out of the way. If you are at rock bottom, you need a ladder. Just one ladder to start with. Your ladder can be a smile, a chat, a call, a number, good advice or anything else. Like a person who has fallen through the ice and is treading the icy water, you will find the hardest part is reaching for the ladder.

If you carry on, then maybe you'll stick around long enough that you'll say help loud enough that someone will hear. Sometimes people are so focused you have to shout - but there are times when it's okay to interrupt.

Here are the smiles I have collected this month, to remind me we why we carry on. You're welcome to share yours on Instagram or Twitter by using #TBCSmiles - it'll be great to see them. If you can't find them, keep looking, they're always there...



If you want to talk to someone you always can. The Samaritans are on hand 24 hours a day. If you are a young person or are worried about another young person, you may feel more comfortable talking to Papyrus or Childline.



Sources - Office Of National Statistics
The Campaign Against Living Miserably


28 comments:

  1. It is very inspiring post. Hope people will seek help.

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    1. Thank you Eileen. I really hope they do too. Have a lovely Christmas xx

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  2. I am a recent reader to your blog and didn't know about Elspeth. This post touched my heart. Last week I took my 10 year old daughter to the funeral of one of her best friends. He had committed suicide, and it made me think about how she is doing. I worry about her because she is so outwardly emotional about small things but keeps big worries inside. She doesn't know the details of his death, but I have tried to take this time to let her know that I am there for her to talk, or her teachers, the school counselor, or her teacher at church. I don't want her to feel alone. Your 5 points have given me a lot to think about. Thank you for writing about this topic.

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    1. Thank you for your comments Ali.I'm very sorry that you and your daughter have lost your friend. I hope that you remember him well and the memories serve as reminder to speak up and get help should it ever be needed xx

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  3. Shed a little tear reading this, as I do every month. Still such an unbelievably tragic waste of life for Elspeth, and those statistics are horrific. You are inspirational Jenny and you don't even realise it. I'm proud to call you my friend x

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    1. I'm sorry I make you cry - I hate to think of people crying unless it's good tears. The statistics are horrific, so many lost lives, so many friends and relatives. Suicide affects everyone xx

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  4. I'm not sure what to say, this has touched my heart in a way that I couldn't have imagined, the way that you are always helping others when your life has been turned upside down is incredible. I'm sure that these words will mean so much to do many in the next few weeks. I will be collecting my family's smiles and noticing them more thanks to you. Love you xx

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    1. Bless you Jen, those are lovely comments. I shall very much look forward to seeing those smiles xx

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  5. Very moving. I'm sitting here sobbing quietly, remembering two friends who took their own lives in their early twenties.
    xxx

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    1. I'm sorry you cried Ruthy, and I'm sorry for your lost friends. It's never easier without them, and you never forget xxx

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  6. Thank you for such an honest post. I know that writing it will help so many people and hopefully helped you as well in some small way. I am going through the stage with my 9 year old that she doesn't want to live no more because of how she feels. All I can send you is virtual hugs and thinkin of you xxxx

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    1. I know your 9 year old is really struggling at the moment.I hope that she can soon see as she matures and gets more control over her life everything will become easier. I wish you the best Christmas you can all have xx

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  7. Hugs to all of you- lovely post.

    Merry Christmas

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  8. As always, your words tell the story of the strength of love and support that holds you all together. A beautiful post that I hope catches people before they lose themselves in the darkness that can creep up.
    There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Elspeth, and all of you. Of your husband and his health, of your strength to keep going and finding the smiles together. You are a beautiful family. Your smiles spread smiles on the faces of all the lives you touch.
    Sending love x

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  9. I really feel for you and I can't imagine the pain of losing a child, but i do know the pain of losing my husband and how hard this time of year is. I was so sad to hear about your daughter, you are touching so many people by writing this down and hopefully someone who is in a bad place will read it and you might just save their life. Lots of love xx

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  10. I love that you are able to write openly about Elspeth and I know that you help many others through doing so. I admire you and your family and have you all in my thoughts constantly.

    Keep collecting them smiles - they are beautiful!

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  11. Amazing post from an amazing lady and family Xxxxxxx

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  12. As I said last night, I really hope that this helps other seek help x

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  13. I sincerely hope that this post will inspire someone to get some help if needed. I hope you all manage to have a good Christmas. Sending hugs xx

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  14. A deeply touching post. Thank you for sharing. I hope this post touched another person's great and represents something like the first rung on a ladder. One day, one step at a time.

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  15. As always a lovely and heartfelt post x

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  16. My father committed suicide a little over 9 years ago so I can relate to much of what you say here. Though I don't like to imagine how hard it must be to lose a child, especially in this way. Well done for sharing this post and I hope it touches someone and even if it prevents one person taking their life then it is worth it. My thoughts are with all of you and we'll done for starting to look forward and celebrating Christmas. Your son looks so happy with that tree! Xx

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    1. Hiya Caroline. I am truly so sorry for you and your family that you lost your father. I had promised my family I wouldn't use my laptop over Christmas, so was unable to respond to your comment before today, but you were also in my thoughts.
      He loved his tree! It has to come down tomorrow...boo! xx

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  17. Very wise words for all families who have children who are depressed, anxious or suffer from low self-esteem. I hope you are all able to have a peaceful Christmas x

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  18. I'm new to reading your blog and I had no idea about your daughter. I'm so sorry, I can't begin to imagine what you've been through and go through every day. I hope your post inspires others to seek help x

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  19. You are such a wonderful woman to not only keep going at this difficult time but to help others. Thank you for this post - Elspeth keeps me going and how she felt is exactly how I feel and I have to admit the end of this year was very tough but the hope that I may actually be as loved as she is kept me going. I'm just so sorry she didn't get to know it sooner xx

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    1. I am glad that you can see how much you are loved. You are well-liked generally, I'm sure no-one wants to think that you'd ever lose sight of that.
      I'm not so wonderful, I was just put into the wrong place and spill out the crap that fills my head sometimes to make room for some other stuff - like where the keys are or what on Earth I'm cobbling together for dinner. I hope you have all the support you need, and if you don't I would be happy to help you look for your ladder xx

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  20. Oh Jenny, I was just reading your post that links back here and I remember coming here and clicking away because I couldn't face your words when Christmas was my time of loss. You are so right though, every point you make makes so much sense. I learnt many years ago that suicide was not the answer, it's such a shame that Elspeth didn't realise this. xxx

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