Bereavement due to suicide
After their son died Bob and Lynda decided to support each other in their grief. They were...
It [Darren’s suicide], it was an absolute shock and totally unexpected. You never expected to hear the word suicide you know in our house, it was some, nothing ever talked about and we had to make arrangements. His friends parents went out to fetch them back and, because they’d gone in Darren’s car and they couldn’t drive it back so they went and fetched his friends, friends back and all his luggage, and then we had to start the process of getting him home. We used a local funeral firm and they sorted it all out for us. But then you’ve got to start the, coping with this traumatic experience and I mean, like most married couples, Lynda and I had been married 30 odd years at the time, no 20 odd years at the time, and we were just going along comfortable together, but when this happened, this was something that could’ve either torn us apart or brought us together. We made the conscious decision at the time we, we both brought Darren into the world, we both see him out of it and we worked together and one of the biggest things we realised is that even though you’re grieving for the same loss, you grieve differently, you are individuals. But it’s so important to, if you can, to work together and when’s one down the other one’s up and you can help each other through it.
And I’m fortunate Lynda has helped me through it, and I’ve helped Lynda through it so, I don’t know what we’d have done without each other.
Alex and Felicity realised that a death by suicide in the family might weaken family bonds. Alex...
Family members supported each other and just gelled together when Joe was dying in hospital.
And when you were at the hospital, what was the interaction like then? It must have been difficult.
At the hospital we were just, everyone was in a daze, everybody was just, just had the, I can just remember this ache in my head which didn’t go for about a year, you know you’re just you just feel like someone’s got your brain and just [holds her head] just squeezing it, but interaction in the hospital within the family considering my parents had divorced and relations weren’t that good between them really, prior to Joe killing himself, at the hospital things, I mean I, you know family try to do, everybody just gelled together, it was, it was, it was quite remarkable really. Didn’t continue. But, you know at that time when, when you know when it was needed, well we were all going through the same experience, we were all losing you know our son, our brother.
The families had disagreements before Darrell died but his death made people stop and conclude...
How did all this affect family interaction? Did families come together?
Yeah. Since this has all happened obviously I’ve now become closer to Darrell’s family.
And I’m now part of their family rather than Darrell’s girlfriend or fiancée that I was. I’m now a part of their family and I’m in contact with his, his parents on a weekly to daily basis the same as I am now with my parents. I mean, not everybody’s welcomed me back but this is real life, not everything goes as, to plan. But more good has come, come out of his death than, than bad, definitely.
I was going to say, would you see that as a positive thing then?
I mean, nobody wants to that someone’s got to lose their life to do this.
But definitely where there were disagreements in the families before, that has helped to make people stop and think, is this really worth it? Should we do this or should we do that? And I think everybody’s a lot closer for it.
And a lot more positive has come out, more good’s come out of it than bad. And if that’s, if that’s something good to come out of it then, then that’s how, how we’ve taken it.
Dave's relationship with his surviving son was great but not 'easy'. It was no longer a ...
Would you say a little bit about how Ben’s suicide has had a huge impact on the whole family?
Yes, it’s, it’s difficult to explain, but I think it’s changed everything about our lives and how we do everything. We now, I now have to question and think about everything, almost everything I do. The change is so fundamental that before I’d just got on with my life and went to work, and did things, or didn’t do things, without really thinking about them, but now everything is highlighted. Everything is, almost everything is a decision you have to make, without being able to just drift along and do things. And that, that impact, personally, also extends to any social contact, with even people who are close to you, where, like my son, my surviving son, our relationship is great, but it’s not easy. It’s not, it’s not a thoughtless relationship, it, you’re all the time standing back saying, “Oh, after you, or, after you.” And, “What do you want for Christmas? And what do you [sighs], and how shall we do this?” And it’s difficult to make a decision; you’re always wanting to make an allowance for the other person.
Susan and her husband still find it hard to talk about Barry and Stephen. Susan says that she...
Do you think relationships get affected for those who are left behind?
Certainly. Yeah I can quite understand why marriages break up, because it’s a strain, and it’s a big strain. People are quick to say, “You have to get on with your life, you have to move on”, but it doesn’t work like that. I live every day with my sons’ death. And that is really hard, very hard, I always ask myself, “Why?” “Why me?” You know. And their normal upbringing, as young boys, they, they played football, they were in you know, Barry actually played for [the town] boys, he had a great football career, and you think “Why?” you know. It’s just life wasted basically.
Do you ever get the feeling that other people blame you?
I’m not sure.
You say you blame yourself.
I think sometimes in anger we blame our partners, I think sometimes in anger. It’s not deliberate, but you tend to remember things you know, where if you’d have done this, or you’d have done that, things might’ve been better. So I don’t know really.
Do you talk about them to your husband?
Just to other people.
Yeah, just to other people, yeah. Yeah we don’t really mention, you know I mean [my husband] recently laid, we’ve put a summer house up the garden, and he laid a patio, and we joked about that because Stephen was a bricklayer by trade, and I said to him, “I’m sure Stephen’s looking down and thinking you haven’t laid that slab right”, and we laugh about little things like that you know. So yeah we can, but we don’t really, you know I could see we were at the graveside, Sunday afternoon, no Saturday afternoon, and [my husband] was just standing there, and I could see sort of how sad he looked, just looking at the two graves you know, I don’t know what he was thinking, but he just looked so lost.
That you find it hard to talk.
Yeah and I didn’t say anything but you could see it in his face that he’s probably thinking, “How could that happen?”
Last reviewed July 2017.