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in our family and meant I had to spend lengths of time away from my own children. Sometimes I feel sad, and we all miss her

desperately, but there is a sense of relief now that its over – how can I get through the guilt?

Maureen Dear Alex,

MY HUSBAND TOOK his life after life dealt him several cruel blows - his brother died suddenly, he lost his job and we were struggling financially. It was totally unexpected, he had never threatened suicide and he seemed to be ok, we talked and I thought we were both doing well considering. I can’t get over the shock, it’s like I never knew

him. How could he even have been thinking it and I didn’t know. I am left with so many unsolved, unanswerable questions and I have swings from feeling really angry at him and then deep, deep sadness that I wasn’t aware of how it was affecting him. I also feel deceived by him, if that makes sense, because it’s like I never knew him. Or was I so wrapped up in my own stuff that I failed to see how he really was? I am having counselling but it can’t bring him

back, can it? Jo


I’M PLEASED TO HEAR that you are having counselling and whilst of course it can’t bring him back it can help you to work through the many feelings that you are experiencing. I can only offer you my heartfelt condolences and reassurance that the feelings that you are experiencing are completely normal in the event and that many, many others feel as you do in these or similar circumstances.

Dear Alex,

AFTER A LONG ILLNESS and several years of suicide attempts and bouts of severe depression, my mother took her own life. I am relieved and I feel guilty for feeling it. At first I was angry and full of self-blame, but now I am relieved because I can face each day knowing that the worst has happened and that I know where she is. The torment we as a family lived through whilst my mother was so ill was hell on earth and our constant battle to keep her from self-harm was so difficult and destructive it caused a massive break

DEAR MAUREEN, THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS; I believe many readers will relate to your feelings. Guilt is a difficult one and I can understand the sense of relief that you feel now. It is obvious from your letter how much you all loved her and that you tried hard to keep her with you, at huge personal cost. I wonder if recognising how difficult the past years with her were, and how much you cared for her, might enable you some relief of the guilt? What I understand you to be saying here is

that at some level you always knew she would eventually take her own life and that throughout that time the stress and constant worry took their toll on you and your family. Now that stress is gone, and there is no more anxiety, your life is less traumatic. Forgive yourself for being relieved that for all of you the uncertain days of torment are over. I hope you can move towards manageability of what is a huge loss in all of your lives.

Dear Alex,

I DON’T KNOW WHETHER I believe in God but I’m troubled as someone said that suicide is a crime in God’s eyes and that people who take their own life shouldn’t be buried in consecrated ground. The minister at our church has been very kind and supportive, but I’m worried about what will happen to my child.


DEAR SAM, THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE with very strong opinions that may lead them not to consider the consequences of their statements on others. This person is one of those insensitive souls and they clearly should be avoided. We are all entitled to our personal beliefs and I am not about to challenge yours. What I note in your letter to me is that you mention your church minister and the kindness shown. Perhaps try to focus on those that show you kindness and care and forget the statements made by those who have only their own selves in mind. Today there are so many choices available to us with regard to funerals and final resting places, do what feels best for you and gives you some comfort in this very sad time. If you have good supportive family or friends, talk to them too. I hope you find peace in yourself.


Set aside some time each day for grieving so that you can cry, remember the dead person, pray or meditate.

RECORD YOUR FEELINGS, thoughts and memories in a journal. Writing may help you gain some control over intense emotions and so reduce their power.


are able, set aside time for things that you used to enjoy. This is not disloyal and will help you cope with your grief.

EXERCISE should help you feel better emotionally and will make you physically tired so that you sleep better.

MEDITATION, relaxation techniques, massage and listening to music can help reduce the emotional and physical stress of bereavement.

Some people find it helps to express

their feelings through WRITING POETRY OR PAINTING. Other creative activities can also be healing and restorative.

AVOID MAKING MAJOR DECISIONS, like disposing of the person’s belongings, soon after the death. You may not be thinking clearly and may do things you later regret.

BIRTHDAYS and the anniversary of the

death can be difficult. Talk to other family members and plan in advance how you want to spend the day.

You may feel particularly down when the

tasks of PLANNING THE FUNERAL and sorting out the affairs of the person who died are over. Ask for help if you need it.

ALCOHOL OR DRUGS may provide

short-term relief from painful feelings, but they delay grieving and can cause depression and poor health.

IF YOU ARE FEELING DEPRESSED (which may affect your sleep, appetite and lead to suicidal thoughts), get help from your GP.

You may prefer to seek support from people other than friends or family. Help is available from BEREAVEMENT GROUPS, self-help groups, faith groups and through bereavement counselling.

Farewell Magazine


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