Overcoming loss by suicide

I don't think I will ever forget the day, as much as I'd love erase it from my mind like clearing the trash can icon on your desktop.


It was a relatively normal morning. I lived with my boyfriend in Highbury, North London and was heading into university to take one of the first exams of my first year studying Journalism with Sociology. A French listening and speaking exam. I wasn't nervous. My French classes were taught by a particularly 'cool' lecturer who liked to talk in depth about the primal experiences she felt during childbirth without pain relief. As you do.


My sister called my mobile as I caught the bus from outside my flat. She was worried about our Dad. He'd left a 'strange' voicemail on her phone whilst she'd been working at a pub the previous night.

Alarm bells went off instantly. He had the said nearly the exact same thing to me the day before. He loved me. He was proud of me. I deserved better than the parents and family I had been born into. He trusted me. He knew I would always look after my younger sisters and baby brother.

Louise had tried calling him. He hadn't picked up.

Something was wrong. I knew it. Knew instantly.

But it was over an hour later, half way through my examination when I realised I had missed calls and the super cool teacher let me take a break, that I heard the words.

"I'm so sorry Steph. I'm so sorry but he's dead."

My father had died by suicide. And everything was a mess.

I don't even know how to describe the effect this has had on my life. I didn't realise at the time that the horror I was experiencing was merely the epicentre of an earthquake that I would still feel 12 years on. Time may have passed but the tremors still come and the earth moves beneath me, tripping me and engulfing me in sadness, anger, confusion and guilt.

Hearing those words was like a bomb going off in the middle of my life and even though I got up straight away and kept walking, it was like being in a movie where the sound goes off and everything goes into slow motion in the aftermath of an explosion. 

I still feel like I'm pressing a makeshift bandage into a wound, putting out fires, squeezing the hands of the people I love, and calling for help.

But life has moved on, like it would have done if my Dad had been alive. I've grown older, my siblings have grown up. I've had boyfriends and break-ups and am now happily married with two children. I never finished my degree. I never learned to drive. I have made friends, lost friends and made new ones. I haven't traveled much but could describe in detail different worlds like Middle Earth. I've had a career and even though I don't want to be a journalist, I still love to write.

I really love to write. I use this blog like Dumbledore's pensieve. Pulling out the thoughts in my (often mixed up) brain and attempting to make sense of them in my ramblings. Sometimes I dream of becoming a big blogger like so many I follow and admire but really the writing process helps me even if I don't hit 'publish'.

It's highly unlikely that anyone will stumble across this blog if they're looking for help and advice after losing a loved one to suicide - I've survived but I have no miraculous cure or advice on how to cope with the pain you are feeling. I'd love to write an uplifting end to this post, some tips on looking after yourself and working through your grief but the only thing I can honestly say is that life goes on. Life for me didn't end when my Dad died, it changed but it didn't end. It's hard and sometimes it's really really crap. Like, seriously crap. But life is precious and there is always hope, and it goes on.

The light in the darkness is the everyday, wonderful things that happen that make you smile. Even for just a little while. The comfort in a hug from your children or a cup of tea with a friend. The happiness you feel for others when they achieve something, when they get engaged, graduate or celebrate their Dad's 60th birthday.

The teeny tiny ways that someone lives on after death, in your memories, triggered by a word, book or song.

Next week I deal with the anniversary of my Dad dying and I'm hoping to write about my feelings and the impact his death has had on my life since then. I don't mean to be morose or depressing, if anything, I'm hoping to gain a greater insight and maybe even some healing from sharing my experience and thoughts. If you've read this far, thank you.

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