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May


When you least expect it. Thursday May 19, 2016

It's been a while since I wrote here. After my second Moodscope blog in March, events around the date of my husband's suicide conspired to push me into a dark place, and I got physically ill – the two often go hand in hand, don't they?

As a widow, I think I've been luckier than most: I'm financially solvent, have two wonderful and resilient kids, interesting part-time work, good friends and have found many areas of support over the past six years. So I didn't understand why I was so overwhelmed by sadness and despair. I thought finally I was succumbing to a nervous breakdown! The horror!

At least until I rang a very wise woman, the director of a child bereavement charity, who I admire enormously for her knowledge, compassion and straight-talking.

"You're having a grief ambush," she told me. "I've seen it before."
"So I'm not having a breakdown?"
"No."
"Phew."

I can see now that the incapacitating sense of loss was something new – I was too busy bringing up the kids and generally surviving. Then when they were settled, Boom, it happened.

As you can probably tell from my writing I'm articulate and reflect a lot, so I used that skill to become an advocate for those bereaved through suicide, joining networks involving the NHS and charities working on suicide prevention, and speaking about my experiences to different audiences. I felt I owed it to my husband, partly, to rescue the funny, kind person he was from the illness and suicide that he became. Also people wanted to hear what I had to say; it was heady stuff stepping out from the exhausting caring role and being listened to.

So when the wise woman told me to stop all the bereavement work immediately I was flummoxed. It always had a negative effect on me afterwards, mentally and physically, but I thought it was worth paying the price. And here she was saying "No more".

"It's time to move on," she said. "You've been brilliant and helped a lot of people, but now you have to think of yourself."
"But what am I going to do?"
"Nothing."
"But what if I feel overwhelmed with grief?"
"You cry."

So I cried. A lot. And I felt huge relief that I didn't have to do the suicide bereavement work anymore, because it did keep dragging me back. I also got myself checked out to ensure there was no underlying physical cause (there wasn't). Then when I started feeling better, I did nothing, except the normal daily life stuff.

Two months on, I'm a different person. I'm not saying I'll never experience some grief again, it is cyclical after all and I go up and down too, but giving myself that space to grieve allowed something to shift and I genuinely think the worst is over. I've got my positivity back and a real belief that the best is yet to come in my life.

I just wanted to share that with you.

A View From the Far Side
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Lex Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 5:41am

Dear AVFTFS, "a real belief that the best is yet to come in my life." That phrase, given the context, is a real call to hope for all of us. Thank you. L'x

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:22am

Lex, I think that's the greatest thing of recovery, when you start to look forward and see a future again. x

Rionka Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 7:08am

Me and my husband are constantly battling with my own illness and his suicide thoughts... This is very powerful message: it ensured me there actually could be something even "after" the disaster. I hope you're better now. Thank you.

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:08am

Hi Rionka, yes I'm much better. I hope you and your husband are getting help, Have either of you heard of psychache - a way of describing someone actively considering suicide? There's a very good article here, even though it's aimed at those who've lost a loved one to suicide. Don't know whether it would help your husband understand his suicidal thoughts. http://www.allianceofhope.org/blog_/2012/04/why-suicide-a-look-at-the-concept-of-psychache.html There's also a great bunch of people running the Alliance of Suicide Prevention Charities and the fabulous Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), aimed at reducing suicide rates in men. Maybe one of these will spark something helpful. The disaster doesn't necessarily have to happen.

Jackie Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 7:40am

This post really resonated with me . My husband died suddenly in Sept 2012 ..we had had a difficult last few years together but even so the shock was huge and coincided with my eldest 2 daughters going to university . I changed roles at work but it was still nursing in palliative care ie very emotionally demanding but like you I found helping others helped me ..but looking back it didn't allow me to grieve . My eleven year old had just started secondary school and we were left with debts and big mortgage.
A month ago I hit a complete brick wall and after seeing GP ...burn out and delayed grief reaction was the diagnosis . I am in my second month off now and feel so much better although money is an issue as on basic sick pay . I am looking into taking pension early and how to leave basically .. It will be four years since Paul died in Sept but it always catches up with you in the end . Hope you are much better too . Thanks for sharing it came just at the right time for me as I too thought I was having a nervous breakdown .

Jackie x

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:20am

Jackie, I'm so glad it resonated. I too had extended time off work, just over a year after being widowed, it's not that I haven't had times of grief before, but that was more about trying to stop it so I could survive. But I realised after the post had gone last night, and then it was decided to send out immediately, that what was different about this episode was the sheer, raw grief of loss of the person, the constant crying for weeks, that I'd seen others go through but had never experienced myself. It was scary, but conversely going through that has been freeing. Have you talked to someone? Cruse, the bereavement counselling service is very experienced at this. Apparently it's very usual for those who've had a difficult relationship with the person when they're alive to come for help. And it's just another tool to help get through. Thank you very much for responding.

Zareen Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 7:49am

Thank you very much for your helpful blog. For your self-awareness & your honesty. I work with bereaved people as a supporter & found your comments really helpful. Hope to hear from you again.

Still picking figs Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 8:13am

Just wanted to say, what a generous and supportive post. There is clearly a lot of pain, but also much love out there. Xxx

Kathy Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 8:17am

Very touching, thank you for sharing.

Salt Water Mum Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:00am

'A grief ambush' - what a good description. And what a relief when we can put a name to something.

I am very moved by your words. So much loss but also so much hope.

Thank you for sharing.

SWM x

the room above the garage Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:17am

Hello! I have thought and wondered about you...great to hear an update! What a wise woman, brilliant advice, she knew precisely what was needed, if only there were more of these people around. I'm happy for you, happy that you have gone with your body and mind at each stage. I think 'A View From The Far Side' could be 'A View From The Inside'! Keep wearing your oxygen mask first and know we're here if needed. Love ratg xx. p.s. flummoxed is such a great word, thank you for using it :-D

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:25am

She's an amazing woman. We as a family are so lucky to have her in our lives. She has helped us all in one-off targeted individual sessions, and in so doing, has not only saved us from having to go through the NHS, but saved the NHS a lot of money having to support us. It's just not her though, it's the team around her. Bereavement charities generally (and mental health ones) are cutting edge in the way they are helping people get through.

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:35am

PS I'm going to write about A View From the Far Side handle one day. And thanks for your lovely comments.

Richard Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:32am

Thank you. You have helped me today.
Peace & Love,
Richard.

Anonymous Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 9:43am

I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your husband and father to your children commit suicide. What a moving brave blog. What your blog reveals to me AVSTFS is your courage, your strength,your hard graft trying to make sense of it all, grieve, bring up the children and emerge from it all to where you are today. Your children have the best Mum in the world. Jul xx

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 10:30am

I think the key word here is commit, as though at the moment of choosing to die, it was something he actively chose to do. And from all the reflecting and talking to people I've done since he died, I reckon he never actually wanted to kill his bodily self (he adored his kids), he wanted to kill the 'canker' in his brain, the 'mind cancer', which was intolerable, inoperable and only going to get worse; and a side effect was that he died. So for me he died of a terminal illness; the verdict 'intractable mental illness'. I understand that it's tricky to take on board as an idea, but it's a way of stopping the constant search for an answer of how could he leave us (he didn't, he was one of the 10% who died of his illness - important to take on board that 90% survive!!!). It also gets rid of the idea of blame and responsibility, which is frankly unanswerable and thus to be avoided. After all, we don't blame a person or their loved ones if they die of cancer or heart attack, do we? Here I go doing exactly the thing the wise woman told me not to do. Next post will be about something completely different - changing taps.

Anonymous Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 11:04am

Do you know AVFTFS, you have answered or focused on the issue surrounding suicide which is so devastating for those left behind (I assume) and was on the tip of my tongue to mention. What a brilliant truthful and rational way to deal with his departure. I will always remember this. No..we don't blame those left behind when a loved one does of cancer.There is nothing one can do about a death from cancer or other terminal illness just as there is nothing one can do to save someone wanting to escape mind cancer. You can choose the subject of your next blog but don't think we want something different. It's up to you and please do write more. Your writing is interesting and a pleasure to read. Julxx

Tutti Frutti Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 7:19pm

AVFTFS What you have said is very helpful thank you. Though I am sorry you have ended up back on such an emotionally draining subject. I cant imagine what it must have been like for you and I hope you will be able to get back to looking after yourself again as recommended by the very wise woman. I have been down somewhere near rock bottom only once - quite a long time ago. I genuinely felt so worthless at that time that I thought everyone I knew would be much better off without me. I realised that this was complete rubbish immediately I began to get better. I hope never to be so low again but, if I ever am, a part of me will still know that I don't really believe others would be better off without me and it is just the illness (however convincing those feelings are at the time). I think that would help a lot. Love TF

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 11:05pm

It's okay Tutti Frutti. I've been in touch with the Wise Woman and we both feel this is very healthy, so not as draining. Just crafting my next blog on changing taps ;-)

Hazel Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 1:00pm

Just wanted to say a big thank you for sharing. For many years I was a breastfeeding cousellor , my mother kept telling me it was time to move on, but it was such rewarding work. It wasn't til after she and my Dad died that I felt ready to move on. Now I have a granddaughter. And life is full again.

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 11:06pm

Hazel, it feels as though a bit might be missing from here, but thanks for sharing as much as you did. AVFTFS

Salt Water Mum Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 2:02pm

Hi again,

On a completely unrelated issue, The Gardener and Hopeful One, there is a TV documentary on BBC1 tonight hosted by Angela Rippon 'The Truth about Dementia' - Just thought I'd mention it in case it is of interest to you both or anyone else here indeed.

Thank you again AVFTFS,

SWM x

Maria Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 3:13pm

I just wanted to thank you for sharing. I'm glad that you are doing better :)

Hopeful One Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 5:04pm

Hi guys - my strategy ? Forgive or forget. Choose one. Preferably both. I know it's difficult but that's the twork one needs to do. Your topic and your grief means the Squadron will dip it's wings acknowledging what you are going through and to wish you the best. Normal service will be resumed soon. It's my birthday today so heading of for a romantic candle light dinner for two'

Tutti Frutti Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 7:26pm

Happy birthday

The Gardener Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 5:05pm

Thanks SWM - TV in wrong house, can't afford the complicated move, but I'm sitting in my beautiful new office! I am having a spate of people temmling me how long people with dementia live - local mayor visited his wife every day for 7 years, and she did not even know him. Today it's having to be shackled because of violence, pee-ing in cupboards - and on. Took Mr G into respite yesterday, he was ok, not really aware I don't think.

The Gardener Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 5:09pm

Tdoay's blog - suicide the worst scenario to cope with - and the months and years of ups and downs, hope and despair, Glad you're coping, what a legacy to 'grow' out of and resume life. I felt so sad last night, at the awful state of Mr G - today i've been bouncing around like Sebedee, free to 'dash' out, gossip without the usual attempt to drag me away from other people. Off the leash, I will NOT feel guilty.

Anonymous Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 10:42pm

Good for you! You are so strong and give so much of yourself caring for Mr G. Enjoy the time you have to yourself while he is in respite. This is exactly what it is for. So you can remember who YOU are and recuperate for a little while. Guilt-free.

A View from the Far Side Thu, May 19th 2016 @ 10:59pm

Agree 100% with Anonymous. Caring can be such a hard road. Glad you're getting some respite. xxx

mandy Fri, May 20th 2016 @ 9:51am

Namaste xxxxxx

Mary Fri, May 20th 2016 @ 10:32am

Late, I know. Couldn't get to my PC yesterday. Thank you for this. Just thank you. I too have asked my friends to stop using the phrase "commit suicide", as the verb commit is normally associated with crime and suicide has not been a crime since 1961. My father died of his illness, just as did your husband. Choice did not come into it. So far, I have survived. I hope and intend to be in the 90% who do not die of this illness. Your words mean so much. Thank you again.

A View from the Far Side Sat, May 21st 2016 @ 9:44am

Ah Mary, I'm glad you brought that up, the statistics are actually far higher for survival in the general population. It's 10% of those with Borderline Personality Disorder who die of suicide and of those men are significantly more likely than women (I had the stat and I can't find it), to succumb to the disease, so the odds are most definitely on your side. Still loving your posts. xx

A View from the Far Side Sat, May 21st 2016 @ 9:44am

Ah Mary, I'm glad you brought that up, the statistics are actually far higher for survival in the general population. It's 10% of those with Borderline Personality Disorder who die of suicide and of those men are significantly more likely than women (I had the stat and I can't find it), to succumb to the disease, so the odds are most definitely on your side. Still loving your posts. xx

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