Tuesday 10 September 2019

Life goes on.... World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 #WSPD

Today I got up and had a wash, got dressed and made a brew. I checked my two boys were dressed and were at least thinking about having breakfast.
I had the radio on, Radio X with Toby Tarrant because Chris Moyles is on holiday again. It was one of those mornings you end up running up and down stairs loads of times because you've forgotten something, and when you get there you can't remember what it was, so you go back down and instantly remember.
I made the kids sandwiches (we've only got cheese, so no choices today) and packed their lunchboxes into their bags. Then a moment's peace. I sat down for 20 minutes with Facebook, coffee and a slice of toast.
Time for school. We spent a good 5 minutes trying to get everyone out of the door with the correct footwear, coat and bags, and then had to turn back for a forgotten pair of glasses when we were 200 yards up the road. Dropped the kids off, came home, fed the pets.

It was entirely mundane.

Today I woke up with a start. I have tears in my eyes, my heart is pounding and I stop for a second to remember if I took my blood pressure tablet last night. I did. I had a really bad night's sleep and I woke up with a start 4 or 5 times. I think I'm unsettled because my partner is away with work and I know he really struggles with being on his own overnight.
I go for a wash. I check the bedrooms as I pass, listening and praying that I'll hear breathing. I can hear 2 of my 3 sons snoring. I stop at the top of the stairs to see if I can hear my youngest downstairs. I can't. Slowly I lean towards his door. Still nothing. I bravely launch into the room. His bed is empty, he must be downstairs. I nip down and check. He's on his laptop, all good.
Back upstairs I have a wash and get dressed, go down and put the kettle and the radio on. It's Toby Tarrant and I really hope he doesn't mention that it's World Suicide Prevention Day because I don't want to hear him talk about it, not at the moment. I'm not ready for that aspect of today yet.
It's freezing cold, so I run upstairs for socks. It reminds me of the time when none of us had any socks, but there was a policemen blocking the stairs, so none of us asked. My mind wanders and I pick up my laptop and take that down anyway.
Both of my schoolboys are now in the living room, dressed and cheery. That's good. Some days they really aren't.
I remember I wanted socks, and just put shoes on instead.

I made the kids sandwiches and feel bad we've only got cheese, so no choices today. My imagination and my organisation aren't what they used to be. We used to have crisps, little chocolate bars and fresh fruit ready every day for the 5 big kids to make their own lunches. We used to have the money too. I have a new life now. There was a forced restart and at the beginning there were so many things to pay for, and it was hard to organise monetary things when we couldn't even remember to eat. Anyway, that was then, we're getting on top of that side of things now. I pack the boys' lunchboxes into their bags and grin at my 10 year old as he comes in to tell me a joke.

I wipe up, fill the dishwasher and chat to my son. Truth is that he is meant to do the dishwasher today, but I'm so much softer than I was. I can't stand to see my kids unhappy, so half the time I just do it myself. I need to stop, it's not been kind to me physically and I really need to have more help. I worry so much about camel's backs and last straws though. I tread eggshells all day by choice.
My son is still talking and I wasn't paying attention. I listen and take delight in his tales and excitement about a forthcoming school challenge. He's in a great mood and it makes my heart happy. He really sounds so much like his sister sometimes. He has some of her mannerisms and just occasionally it's so close... I realise I've lost track of what he's saying again and snap back down to Earth.

He heads off to the living room with his breakfast.
I sit down for 20 minutes with online news, coffee and a slice of toast.

Time for school. This is the first year in 5 that we've had no tears about school over the first week back. It's such a win and I'm so relieved. It takes the usual 5 minutes to get everyone to leave the safety of our cocoon and I'm reminded, as I am every day, of my older kids whenever we tried to take them anywhere. It was like wrangling rabid cats and getting everyone out of the door with the correct footwear, coat and bags always felt like a massive win. 200 yards up the road we have to turn back for a forgotten pair of glasses. This is approximately the 1863rd time this has happened to me. You'd think I'd have learned to check my children were wearing their glasses before we left the house. Elspeth once left hers on a bench in town. When she realised an hour later, her Dad rushed off to get them and they were still there. We were lucky that day.

We call for a friend and her son, and walk together. I didn't really know her until we lost Elspeth, but she's walked me to school almost every day since. I couldn't have done it without her and I'm so grateful. I spot someone staring too long in the playground and wonder if she knows, or half knows, or if I just have toothpaste down my t-shirt. In that order.

Dropped the kids off, came home, fed the rabbit and my daughter's guinea pigs some grass from the garden, before Autumn takes away their free food. She needed those guinea pigs. Pets are great. They are warm and soft and cuddly and happy to sit with you and ignore whatever mood you are in. She doesn't need them so much now, so we have them here. I'm glad she doesn't need them with her, and kind of pleased to look after them myself.

I tidied up and thought about our big kids still away at uni, and remembered we should have another there, finished or in her final year. Sat down in the kitchen and cried. I decided seeing as I was crying anyway, the fact it is World Suicide Prevention Day won't make any difference. I put on the kettle and checked Twitter...

It was entirely mundane.

When you lose someone, the hole they leave stays forever. When you lose someone to suicide, they leave a bag full of guilt and regret, maybe's and if only's. It is NEVER easier without them. It will never be easier on your family and friends without you. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

If you want to talk to someone you always can. You may be able to reach out to someone you know, but if not 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. You are never alone.

If you are worried about someone you know, "are you okay?" is enough to break the ice, but you need to listen properly to the answer. "Are you thinking about suicide?" might seem very blunt, but it leaves no room for confusion. Papyrus have some brilliant conversation starters (pdf) and other advice, as do RUOK? and Time To Change.

We lost Elspeth when she was 16. I lost my brother when he was 32.
Suicide is the biggest killer of school aged children in the UK today.
Suicide is the biggest killer of all people aged 5-35 in the UK today.

Why We Should Talk About Suicide
13 Reasons Why Not
Dear Elspeth
48 Months
Not 21


  1. as always Jen, hugs and much love. My getting kids to school days are over....glad to read that yours are getting easier, emotinally, for the younger ones. Sorry to say that you'll always have issues with shoes, glasses and homework...but then you know that!! Much love, Em xx

  2. There are so many days I think of you, and of her, and of others who left behind so many what ifs and abrupt full stops. Mundane is different colours when you lose someone who ought to make up part of it. As always, you wrote so eloquently and beautifully about Elspeth and her siblings, and your life then and now. Sending love ❤️

  3. A beautifully written and truly heartfelt post. I hope all your followers read it, remember it and share it. x

  4. Such a beautiful and heartfelt post. Always in my thoughts and heart xx

  5. I was so sure I'd already commented on this. You know I'm always thinking of you all and I think that telling your story is so brave. Keep counting smiles xx


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