In our Your Stories series, people who have suffered a loss share their unique perspective through essays, articles, poetry and artwork. In this unflinching piece, Georgina Baker faces up to the tangle of emotions that come when someone you love chooses to end their life.
There is a word that people are frightened to say out loud. It symbolises everything that we are shocked, disgusted, confused and horrified by. We whisper discreetly about it. We make excuses for it. We struggle to rationalise something incomprehensible. We point and blame both outwardly and inwardly. We scream loudly, we withdraw silently.
We battle for many years to come with the question, “Why?”. Yet we never find an answer that is sufficient or consoling. Our worlds shift on their axis and nothing ever seems the same again. Our values alter, our awareness is heightened (although we try to dull our senses and mute our inner voices).
SUICIDE is a complex loss. It’s not old age, illness or accident. It’s a decision taken by someone who is unable at that moment to find another, any other solution. It leaves us with a thousand questions and retrospective regrets. It’s irretrievable despite our best intentions. This is a finality we can’t alter. It’s too late.
When asked, “Did you see any signs?” the urge is to scream aggressively, “If I had, do you really think I wouldn’t have taken notice?”
When asked, “Did you see any signs?” the urge is to scream aggressively, “If I had, do you really think I wouldn’t have taken notice? If I thought my loved one was at risk, do you really think I wouldn’t have moved heaven and earth?”.
The ripple effect is widespread and unimaginable. It feels as if you will never breath with ease again. There are repercussions that nobody talks about. Even in this “modern, enlightened world”, the act of suicide retains a certain taboo.
When that loss is a child all this multiplies tenfold. The sense of failure weighs heavily.
At some point, the mists will clear and you will suddenly feel the rush of oxygen to your lungs again.
Speaking with first hand knowledge, I can now say that at some point, the mists will clear and you will suddenly feel the rush of oxygen to your lungs again. It’s inevitable, it’s our survival instinct. Shock has no precise time limit but it does have a limit. There will be a glimmer of light in the future and you will resurface, although that might seem impossible right now.
Be quiet and be kind to yourself while you heal. Don’t ask the impossible, go with the flow and have faith that everything changes in time. Put aside, when you can, the horrific facts. You’ll never erase the knowledge but you can soften the edges eventually.
This is the worst test of all and you will come through.
Meanwhile, rest and wait. As your mind processes it will go through many stages but stay safe in the knowledge that all things are transient and there is a new path waiting in your future.
If you are struggling with a bereavement or just need someone to talk to during a tough time, Samaritans are here 24/7, every day of the year. You can call their free hotline on 116 123 or email them at [email protected]
Georgina Baker’s partner, Stuart Falconer, started the OLLIE Foundation with other bereaved parents after they lost their son, Morgan. The Foundation is devoted to stopping teenagers and young people from taking their own lives. You can find out how to get involved or donate here.