This time of year is hard all round I guess. We are all fed up with long evenings cooped up under indoor light, our young people have exams, and stress levels start to rise as everyone longs for the day they can be sat outside doing naff all but enjoying the sun on their face. I expect this is exactly the period after Christmas when you shouldn't ever make the decision to become a statistic.
20 months turns out to be really quite hard. I was correct last month and the dust is starting to settle. We actually are falling into some sort of 'normal', but that brings it's own problems. We all have time to focus on the here and now, which means you can't help but re-evaluate and assess your situation. After reading something written by a Mum who lost her child a short while before we lost Elspeth, I realised we are certainly not alone in this. You wonder 'is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Will this cloud be over us forever?'. The mud may have gone, but the dust cloud remains and it's kind of hard to see where you will be going from here.
All three of our teenagers have exams coming up, and instead of looking forward to the peace afterwards, they're all a bit unsure as to how their Summer will go, which saddens me greatly. These should be the best and most carefree Summers of their lives, but they are already worrying that they will spend a lot of time reflecting on the Summer of 2014. Normality gives them too much time to think, and to worry. And in turn, I worry...
We have all carried so much for so long that you feel a real need to stop running for a while. You long for a gap in the fog, just so that you know it will be okay and you can see where you will find that rest. Sometimes you know for sure that gap will come, and at others it seems so relentless that it never will.
You have to hold on to the confidence you have when you are certain it will be okay, remember those moments well, because it pulls you through those times when it seems almost impossible.
And as such, here are the smiles I have collected this month. We've had a daytrip to Blackpool, a 6th birthday for our youngest family member, Easter and 2 weeks of tummy bugs! Yeeeay! Boo!
I think you'll agree that our newly 6 year old was very much on form this month!
What happens immediately after you discover a member of your family has lost their life to suicide.
- You have to dial 999. You don't need to be composed or sensible, or know who you need, you just need to give them the facts, they do the rest.
- Police Officers will be with you very quickly and assess the situation.
- The first two officers who arrive will likely only be with you until the shift changes.
- You will be allowed to spend whatever time you want with your relative, but the Police will be there. You can't remove items from them or their room, as it may be evidence for the Coroner.
- You will be asked many questions, many times, by many people. With all of our 7 children in the house we repeated dates of birth all morning.
- You will be introduced to lots of different people who will have different titles, some will have been assigned to you and some will not. You may or may not ever see them again. Some will return once to clarify things you said at the time. We started writing down names on day 2, and that list became invaluable. I included descriptions so that we could try to remember who would be turning up at our door.
- Everything takes a long time. Police Officers and assorted other personnel were actually at our home for 6 1/2 hours.
- The maximum number of Police Officers and personnel in our home at any time was 7. For most of the day there were at least 4. If you can remove pets and children away from this then do.
- The body will be removed in as sensitive a way as possible, you do not have to watch or organise this. It is taken to a local hospital morgue.
- The Police will take whatever they feel may be important or relevant, this may include computers and mobile phones, notebooks, letters etc. You will not get these belongings back until they are deemed unhelpful or you have had the inquest. Elspeth's inquest was over 7 months after she died. We got everything back almost instantly.
- Someone will need to write a statement. The person who found the deceased usually has to write a statement. This can take hours and covers events from as far back as when your relationship began. Our full statement was not taken that day, so as to allow us some space.
- Little children do not get questioned at all, they are left be in order that they can forget as much that is unpleasant as possible. Children over 7 may be asked some questions, but in our case it was very brief and calm, and our young people wanted to talk through anything they could think of that could be relevant.
- You will be referred to Social Services if you have children. This is standard. Our Social Worker was lovely, and genuinely just wanted to make sure we were coping.
- Refer yourself to your Doctor. We rang ours and he came to our house and stayed with us for 2 hours.
- Refer yourself for further help. You have no idea if it will be necessary, but it can be invaluable and can take weeks to start. Refer yourself now, before you find you need it. I insisted we were all referred, most of us needed it, even if only for a little while. My partner and I had counselling for 18 months.
- Be prepared for when everyone leaves. No-one will be asking you questions any more and your house will feel silent, cold and empty. We all went out to a large nearby park. It was big enough that we didn't need to see anyone else, it entertained the little ones and it let us all walk and talk, and cry and be silent without any awkwardness.
- Do not panic because you don't know what you have to do next. People who know what to do will tell you what to do next.
SOBS (Survivors Of Bereavement By Suicide)
Child Bereavement UK