“I didn’t want anyone trying to pull me out of my darkness and grief at that time, I just needed someone to sit alongside me, just knowing that they understood.”
Hayley talks about the loss of her ex-partner and close friend to suicide, the devastation, the support that she received and her determination to help others in the same situation – and so not letting her friend’s death be in vain.
In 2018 our world was turned upside down. Rob was the 27-year-old father of my beautiful little girl.
He was fun-loving, had a dark sense of humour, was stubborn beyond belief and was loved by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. Despite all of this, he took his own life.
Suicide isn’t like any other grief you will ever experience, there is nothing nor nobody to blame, except the person you love. I spent months re-reading messages, looking for answers, blaming myself for not seeing his sadness and the guilt was overwhelming.
I was so very angry that he could do this and leave us all behind. How dare he! At the same time, I was feeling totally broken that someone I loved so much could have been feeling so worthless and I just didn’t realise.
Still dealing with the stigma, I felt unable to open up about these feelings, even to those people closest to me -this is when I found what I needed with the service.
Not knowing how to cope with the weight I carried, this bespoke service held my hand with one-to-one support, specialist counselling and a fantastic buddying system.
Suddenly I wasn’t alone. Surrounded with the caring attitude of everyone at Mind, I found the strength to join the local peer group, a terrifying prospect, but the best decision I made.
I didn’t want anyone trying to pull me out of my darkness and grief at that time, I just needed someone to sit alongside me, just knowing that they understood. This is one of the reasons the peer group, that this wonderful service offers, is so important, knowing you’re not alone makes a world of difference.
I spent 2 years attending the peer groups, surrounded by people who knew my pain all too well, but were happy to share it even though they were suffering themselves. I will never be able to express how important that was to me.
While my confidence was growing with the continued support I was receiving, I spent time keeping up to date with mental health developments, it was here I came across a statistic that shook me – ‘Anyone affected emotionally by a suicide is at least 60% more likely to attempt suicide, contemplate or die from suicide themselves”. It was at that moment I realized my journey with Mind wasn’t nearing its end, it was barely just beginning.
I knew had to do everything in my power to protect my baby from this fate and if I could stop one single family going through the heartbreak we endured and are still dealing with to this very day, then everything would be worth it.
I volunteer with the ‘Buddy Program’ to share lived experience with new service users and support them through the early stages of their grief. I also help to facilitate the Peer Groups that only a few years earlier had saved me.
Suicide does not stop the pain, it simply passes it to another, but, with this fantastic service we are fighting every day to help break that cycle.
My hope for the world is that with the help of MIND, we can ask the question more openly – ‘Have you had suicidal thoughts?’, end the stigma and fill the world with kindness.
Nothing will ever bring Rob back, but I will endeavour to make sure his death was not in vain.