Rob lost his Mother to suicide just months after losing his Father to Cancer:
Sunday lunch with my Mum, Maggie, on 12 November 2017 felt like any other. She had overcooked the vegetables and the beef was quite tough, but I still relished the comforts of a home-cooked dinner with her, my wife, son, brother and his girlfriend.
That was the last time I saw Mum alive – she died five days later from a drugs overdose in one of the back bedrooms of her house. My brother, Chris, had the truly horrific experience of finding her dead upstairs on Friday 17 November when checking to see if she was ok. By that point, neither of us had heard from her for a few days. I assumed she was taking some time out, but had a horrible feeling that something wasn’t right when getting no response to repeated calls and text messages.
I was on a train home from work when Chris called – I just knew something terrible had happened. He screamed down the phone, ‘Mum’s dead, she’s killed herself… MUM… MUM…’ Shock took over and I struggled to speak for a few seconds. I then went into autopilot while trying to calm him down as my mind span uncontrollably, leaving me feeling dazed and nauseous. After ending the call, I sat there, next to a random lady, on the 30-minute journey home desperately trying not to burst into tears. I didn’t want to tell strangers what had just happened or see them shift uncomfortably in their sits while I sobbed.
After pulling into Leighton Buzzard station, I stumbled off the train and shuffled zombie-like for the five-minute journey to my house. The tears came before I reached the front door. By that time, I’d already text Gem, my wife, to let her know what had happened as I couldn’t even contemplate getting through a phone conversation while on the train. I stepped into the hallway a broken man as Gem held me while our son, Benjamin, played happily in the living room. We then jumped straight in the car and drove two hours to Wolverhampton, where Chris was dealing with the police and the paramedics.
It’s been nearly four months since that tragic day, in which time I’ve had six weeks off work, seen a counsellor and joined Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, a support group for people who have lost loved ones in such a tragic way. I’ve also lost my 94-year-old Granddad, who died in February from natural causes, and had my second child – a baby girl called Eleanor May Morris.
Having a second child is a bittersweet experience. It’s wonderful to bring another precious life into the world and give Benjamin a baby sister, but going through that experience without Mum and Dad has been more difficult than I could ever have imagined. When Eleanor arrived on Monday 26 February, I did what any dutiful father does and called family to let them know the happy news. My heart sank knowing that I couldn’t share it with my parents, who would have been absolutely ecstatic to have a granddaughter.
My emotional state has changed from one day to next since losing Mum. In the first few weeks, I felt utterly broken and shattered from the shock and grief. I knew Mum was struggling without Dad, who died from cancer on 26 May, 2017, but I never thought she would take her own life. I felt angry with her for leaving me, a grandchild (with another on the way) and my wife behind. How could she do this to us and why weren’t we enough for her to want to live, were the two questions that kept swirling around my head.
I’ve also felt incredibly sad that she believed she had no other choice but to end her life, as well as cheated at losing both parents in just six months. They won’t see Benjamin grow up and they’ll never meet Eleanor.
What really hurts is knowing that Dad had absolutely no control over his predicament – the cancer took hold and snatched him away from us. But Mum had a choice; she could have spent time with her family and friends and found a new life after dealing with her grief. Instead, she gave up the precious gift of time that Dad never had. It’s perhaps a cruel thing to say, but an honest assessment of how I’ve felt in recent weeks.
The flip side to feeling angry with Mum is accepting that anyone who decides to take their own life isn’t thinking clearly. I know from my own experiences of anxiety that life can become a hellish grind in which you’ll contemplate almost anything to make the suffering stop. There have been times where I’ve thought death would be preferable to living a miserable existence, but I’ve never truly considered doing it. Mum ultimately decided that life wasn’t worth living without Dad, which is so tragically sad.
I just hope Mum now has the peace in death that she couldn’t find in life.