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Surviving Bereavement by Suicide – Chris Bingley’s Story

Joes StorySuicide as the result of mental illness is still the highest cause of death for mums so how do you survive the horror of losing someone you love?

It is wonderful to see that Mums (and Dads) across South and West Yorkshire now have access to the Community Perinatal Mental Health Service they need which will save lives but across 50% of the UK these specialist services are still not available!

It is exactly 8 years since the avoidable death of my wife Joanne (Joe) Bingley when our daughter was just 10 weeks old.

She was being treated at home for very severe postnatal depression without us knowing she needed the help of specialist perinatal mental health practitioners who could have saved her life.

Shortly after my wide died (I still find it hard to use the word suicide) I was able to speak to another Dad whose wife had killed herself and left him caring for a new born baby and two children.

I asked him how he managed to rebuild his life and move forward, he said “Give it at least five years”.

He was right as it takes years to accept and overcome the horror of losing someone by suicide.

Step 1: Survival The first year is all about not giving in. The pain and horror comes in waves and it takes over everything so it’s a struggle to just keep afloat. Sometimes you sink into depths of despair and find yourself in dark places you never knew existed. But with help and support from good friends and family you can find a way to keep afloat and get back to the light.

Step 2: Learning to Cope with the Pain – The pain of losing someone you loved never goes away your life has changed fundamentally forever. There are good days and there are bad days. You just have to be aware of this and learn different ways to cope whether that is distracting yourself or just letting the feelings and emotions take you …… Some days you just need to find the right space to cry!

Step 3: Acceptance and HopeYour life has fundamentally changed forever, the hopes and dreams you once had are gone and you will never be able to get them back. You need to look ahead and you need to search for new dreams, to a time when the pain of loss is less, giving yourself hope for the future.

Step 4: Learning to Laugh Again Maybe the hardest step in rebuilding your life is learning to laugh again. The pain of your loss, the feelings that you could have done more, the doubts and fears of whether you can ever really rebuild your life are all feelings that can prevent you being able to laugh again. Friends reminded me how I used to be so happy and jolly, it’s not that I didn’t want to laugh I just need to learn how to again!

Step 5: Happiness – It is truly difficult to be happy after suffering such a terrible loss. Recovery takes a long time and it is different for everyone. After the loss of a loved one it can take a long time before you find that you are able to allow yourself to be happy. I found happiness comes at first in small packages one day at a time until you find that the number of happy days overtake the number of sad.

Step 6: Be Resilient - Rebuilding your life after loss requires resilience in spades. Any journey has hazards and obstacles so why should the journey to rebuild your life be any different? You have to be resilient, remember if you do go back a few steps each time you then move forward again you are getting stronger.

Step 7: Be Kind to Yourself – Whilst “resilience” is needed to overcome and get through the dark days truly you need to remind yourself you can enjoy the happy days. It is difficult sometimes when you are having a difficult time to remember to be kind to yourself.

Remember It’s Just a Process However you get through, however you find yourself, it’s hard to remember that the journey of life is a process of happy times and sad times. The steps you take may be different and you may approach the journey in a different order that is fine ….. you have to get through the sad times and appreciate the times you are happy.

It’s 8 years since the avoidable death of my wife but now every time I look into my daughter’s eyes I see the happiness and joy life has brought rather than the sorrow and pain of loss.