Survivor Story ( )

My heartache

When I met Alan my soul mate and second husband to be in 1980, life got better and better. Three years later our beautiful son Dan came along. We both had children from our previous marriage, but having Dan made our family perfect and complete. In 1984 I was diagnosed with MS, but apart from that the following nine years were wonderful, I felt so lucky.

Then in 1992 my luck ran out, and my world started to crumble. In March I had a very bad MS relapse, I was paralysed down my right side, and had to stay in hospital for a while. Alan was so worried, he thought I might die. I slowly got better, and gradually the use of my arms and legs returned. Yet worse was to come, and in August that same year my Alan was told he had bowel cancer, I was shattered, we all were. The tumour was removed, followed by chemo. For a few months life was good, but then the cancer returned, and in October 1994 my beloved man died. I felt so lost, but at least I still had a part of Alan in Dan. Dan was just eleven at the time, he didn’t say much and he didn’t cry much, though I knew he was hurting deep down, all I could do was be there for him.

In the years that followed, Dan left school, and did numerous college courses, he finally settled on graphic design, a choice I think he should have made earlier, he was always very artistic. For three years he was a member of Stagecoach, school of the performing arts. He then joined the Hazlitt youth theatre in Maidstone when it started up in September 97. He was a natural and he had this wonderful warped sense of humour. Everyone loved Dan and he seemed to love life, or so I thought!

On Wednesday August 6th 2003, my world fell apart. I found my gentle, beautiful son dead, he was just twenty. The shock was immense, I cannot find the words to describe those moments. He was in bed and I thought he was sleeping, I shook him and screamed, wake up Danny, wake up but he didn’t and I didn’t know why.  He never suffered with depression and he never appeared suicidal, nothing made sense.

Those terrible early days were so surreal and I cannot thank my family, friends, and Dan’s friends enough for being so caring and supportive. I know how much they were hurting too. Despite their love and kindness, I still felt alone and I needed to talk with someone who had lost a loved one through suicide. Within days I did met a lady whose daughter had died this way and listening to her really helped me. This lovely lady Sherralyn, now helps me run the Maidstone support group and we have become good friends.

It was my doctor who told me about SOBS and when I discovered the shortage of groups and that the nearest one to me was Dover, I decided I wanted to start one here in Maidstone. I waited eighteen months as advised before setting the wheels in motion. On the 6th September 2005, I held my first successful meeting. We started in a church hall, but now I run it from home, which everyone agrees is nicer. Verlie, who has been attending the meetings on and off since the start, is now a helpline volunteer, which is great, as I know they are much in demand.

SOBS has given me back purpose and meaning to life. I have found a strength I never knew I had. Some say I’m brave, but I don’t think so, it’s those who have the courage to come along to a meeting for the very first time, I know for a few its easy, but for the majority its not. If you can attend a SOBS support group then do so, it will make a difference, for this is no normal bereavement like so many think. I do get annoyed when someone says, “ I know what you’re going through, my sister died of cancer, or my friend was killed in a car accident.”

I do appreciate these people are only trying to help, but they have no idea. I politely tell them its not the same as loosing a loved one to suicide.

Only those of us who have experienced this terrible tragedy can truly understand, and it’s for this reason I urge you to join a support group or if there isn’t one in your area, why not do what I did and start up your own, the rewards are great! None of us need suffer alone, together we can help each other.

Since loosing Alan and Dan, life hasn’t been easy, I love and miss them both so much, it hurts! Some days can be really tough, and I end up shedding lots of tears, which is good, as tears are healing. Other days I get so fed up, and wonder what’s the point in it all. I do believe there is one though, I believe in destiny and fate, and that everything happens for a reason. I believe it was Dan’s time, he was only meant to be here for twenty years, and I was meant to set this group up and by doing so his death has not been in vain.

SOBS is Dan and everything I do is because of him and for him.  He lives on.

Sheila