Bereaved by suicide
Welcome to ReachOut.com’s Ask the Expert service
Each month we oncentrate on one particular mental health area and work, mainly, with one specific collaborator. Ciarán Austin was our featured expert and took your questions about loss and grief from any one who has been affected by suicide.
The advice provided through this service is not intended to replace face-to-face professional advice or any on-going support that a person may be receiving. If you or someone you know is in crisis now you should go to emergency support information.
whear to start I have been caring for my husband for 5 years now. he is brain injured , has no emotions and is very demanding ,I could not respite care for him even when i was due to go into hospital , although i have health issues myself . I have not been out of home except for dr s and grocery shopping or when he in hospital , in all that time . we were normal and happy before this happened now it seem like i have no husband ,just a strange demanding adult to care for with very little support . i always find this time of year hard as my son passed away on christmas day 10 year s ago at 31 year s old ., now i feeling that i can not take any more i have looking at women s refuges sites as i do not have the means to leave nor anywheare to go i have adult children but they are no support i also on lot of medication for stress , life is not worth living for me now.
Thank you so much for making contact and for sharing so much of your situation with us. Firstly, I’m very sorry to read about your husband’s injury and how much caring for him has impacted on both your lives. I can see how stressful it must be for you and given the loss of your young son 10 years ago, how much more difficult this time of year must be for you.
Being a carer for someone with such a debilitating injury can be extremely difficult Anne. Often, carers in your situation will focus all of their energies and resources on the person they are caring for and as a result, neglect their own needs and sometimes, health. Caring for someone is more than a 24 hour job; not only are we grieving for the person we once knew and have now lost, but we can become burdened with just functioning day-to-day. That is why it is vital that carers focus primarily on their own health. It might sound unusual, but you have to come first, otherwise you risk becoming burnt-out and ultimately, of no use or support to anyone else. Finding some respite may just do you the world of good Anne and refresh your own energies and focus. While you’re feeling so stressed and in such a demanding place right now, try not to make any big decisions. The priority is to find some respite, someone to talk to about your situation and maybe find some support in your day-to-day role as a carer.
Anne you mention not having the means to leave or look elsewhere for support. I wonder if you have tried contacting the following two organisations? Both of these organisations will have a specific understanding of your situation and at the very least, be able to point you in the right direction for some helpful supports;
- The Carers Association – www.carersireland.com – Freephone 1800 24 07 24
- Headway (Life After Brain Injury) – www.headway.ie – LoCall 1890 200 278
Anne you also mention that life is not worth living for you now, and being on a lot of medication for stress – thank you for being so open and honest in your message. This is worrying to hear Anne and I would be concerned for you right now. But it is also understandable given how many demands are on you at present and given your sons anniversary soon approaching. I wonder how you would feel about talking with someone in complete confidence about this Anne? I wish I had a quick-fix answer for you, but I don’t. What I do know is that there are always opportunities to talk through things with someone who cares. By doing so, your stress might just ease a little, you may feel a little more settled and perhaps a little bit stronger for the days and weeks ahead.
The Console helpline is just one of those places where you can do this Anne. It’s a Freephone number (1800 201 890) open 24 hours every day. This year, we are open all over Christmas and New Year. Even on your sons anniversary, you would be able to call and connect with someone who can listen and support you.
Lastly Anne, you mentioned your stress medication. I would advise reconnecting with your GP sometime soon Anne. It’s really important that you maintain good communication with your GP, keeping them informed of how the medication feels, how your mood has been and (really importantly) any thoughts of suicide or despair. Doses and medication-types can always be altered depending on “where we are at” ourselves. Our needs can vary greatly over time, and medication that helped us last year, may not be the best medication for this year.
I sincerely hope that this message helps, even in some small way Anne. Finding the energy to reach out can be a challenge in itself, but it is crucial if you are to find some helpful steps to take next.
Rebecca says: My mum committed suicide when I was 13 and shes gone 26 years sunday past and I get so low coming up 2 her anniversery and I was wonderin if i’l ever get over it.she took her own life cos my father was beatin her.
Thanks very much for getting in touch with us and for sharing how you’ve been, particularly around your mum’s anniversary. Rebecca if there is one important thing to keep in mind, it’s that there is no standard time period, or way to grieve for someone we’ve lost. Everyone does so in their own way and in their own time; the circumstances of every death by suicide are fairly unique and we all have different capacities to cope. It’s very natural to wonder if we will ever get over something like a loss to suicide as it can bring with it so many difficult feelings. Times like anniversaries, birthdays and special dates can also be challenging. Given that your dad was violent to your mum too, I am sure you must have experienced many more tough emotions and questions over the last 26 years.
It’s hard to say if you will ever “get over it” Rebecca but you’ve already come a long way. A loss will always be there, in some shape or form and for many years afterwards, but the pain of the loss can subside. The positive thing is that so many people do go on to grow around their loss and adapt to such a big change in their life. They can become stronger and find new ways to live their life with the loss beside them, rather than behind them.
It’s important to know that you are not alone in your journey Rebecca and you might find it helpful to talk this through with someone. I wonder if you’ve found any support, service or person helpful in the past; there are many people available who can help you navigate how you’re feeling about the loss of your mum, especially when you’re feeling so low about things. You could check in with our Helpline (1800 201 890) available free of charge, 24/7 where you can talk to a counsellor who is specifically trained in the area of suicide bereavement. Through the Helpline you can also learn about counselling services or support groups at our Centres but most importantly you might find it a safe, comforting and welcoming space to take your questions and thoughts.
I hope this helps in even some small way Rebecca,