Bereavement by suicide can take many different forms and affect people in many different ways. In our new feature ‘Real Life’ we talk to Sarah who talks about the powerful journey of losing her son’s father and her best friend to suicide, the impact this has had and how she is finding ways to cope.

My sons father took his own life in October 2018 and then my best friend, took her own life in June 2022. I was the one who found her.
The impact of losing them both has had a huge impact on my mental health as well as my physical and spiritual state. I became severely depressed, but despite the agony, I made a deliberate choicenot to crumble and found strength in my faith.

I discovered that there are lots of emotions involved when someone dies by suicide. At first, there was a lot of anger, followed by tears and upset, but I have learnt that everyone deals with things in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, it is all a process.

At first, finding support was hard. With my son’s dad I did not seek help but with my best friend Selena, I reached out to my GP who advised me they couldn’t help me for six weeks. I was feeling low and then I remembered a charity the police officer spoke about (We Mind & Kelly Matters). I called them and got support right away. I believe this was crucial in how I dealt with everything in the first few weeks.

Four days after my best friend passed away, I received my first Counselling session, and almost a year after her death, I still receive regular Counselling sessions through the charity. My son has lots of questions surrounding the death of his father and sometimes I am not sure how
to answer them. Telling a child someone they love has died is difficult enough but explaining that they died by suicide is even harder. The charity has been incredible at helping me find ways to answer his questions.

I have found that children need to process information, in the case of my 8-year-old son, the information needed to be simple. The charity has helped me enormously with this and it has helped him to have a simple story of his own that he can use to slowly make sense of what has happened.

Over the last 12 months, I have found ways to help me cope, including wellness walks, attending SoBS groups, looking at photos, spending time in nature, talking about the person with others, and spending time with the ones they loved. All of these things have been crucial in helping me manage my grief.