Response #
Person who died
Current experience of grief
Respondent details
55-64 | Female | British
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
Mum (my adult son died)
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
My son’s death has been an irreversible life changing experience. Time hasn’t changed anything only taught me how to live minute by minute day by day week by week and so on.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
My son’s death has changed my relationships with everyone in different ways. I’ve been with my husband for 38 years and married for 34 very happy and extremely close he’s my best friend. Losing our son has brought us even closer if that’s possible. We know what each other is feeling and feel each other’s pain every single day. My gorgeous daughter has lost her beautiful brother and we see and feel her pain too. We are a very close family and losing our son has had a ripple affect across each family member they feel our pain and support us in every way they can whilst dealing with their own grief of losing such a vibrant happy member of our family. True close life long friends have been there for us knowing when we need their support without being intrusive. Our loss has definitely made us more selective with who we choose to spend time with.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
Yes I feel overwhelmed sometimes with how the surrounding world just carries on like nothing has happened. Work shopping everyday duties seem unbearable sometimes but I have the confidence to press pause when I need to and take a breath and find something that brings me calm and allows me time to get my strength back to get back on the treadmill of life.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
Yes our time is precious so I fill my time with things that bring me comfort and some kind of joy amongst all the pain. How much time do we have till we suffer more pain and grief.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
In the early days weeks and months I felt an overwhelming pain in my chest I know now that it’s normal to feel that pain it was my heart breaking. I know I can still feel that pain as my heart will never heal but I can manage that pain. I lost weight in the early days. Food meant nothing to me I ate because I had to but not properly for weeks. I have days when I have no energy to do anything and other days when I feel like I could run a marathon. Exercise makes my mind and body feel better and I try to maintain that when I feel strong enough.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
I had no desire to return to work in the first 6 months even though I loved my job. I knew I had to take time to learn how I was going to be able to do anything to the best of my ability. I knew I was never going to be the same person but I knew I could find a way to be the best I could. I know my grief will be with me for the rest of my life I will just find my own way to carry on my journey.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
Yes I know my grief is mine and I am in control of when I want to have those days where I spend the time doing something that I know will upset me and make me cry but that’s ok and essential that I do have those days. What has happened to me and us as a family has changed our lives forever. Time doesn’t heal losing a child our family tree is broken a branch has gone and will never grow back. The tree will always be there and we can make new branches.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
I have looked for him and longed to see him in the street on the bus. I have looked at young men with beards so many times thinking it could be him. I listen for the front door opening thinking it could be him coming in even though I know it can’t be it doesn’t stop that desire for wanting it to be him.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
At home all the time especially his bedroom. Mornings when he would get up to go to work evenings when he would come in from work. Sitting on the sofa watching TV. His place of work the bus that goes past our house that he would get. Family occasions births birthdays Christmas.
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
Yes I feel him with me all the time and so much so that I visited a psychic and I took great comfort from this. We have a family dog who sometimes appears to see something and I feel that it’s him always around.
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
I feel it when I’m at home watching TV, we used to watch certain programmes together, listening to the radio certain songs that have meaningful words, my psychic readings where I felt like he was there she described him perfectly and told me things no one else could have known.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
Yes I write to him every night. I go into his bedroom on a daily basis. I light a candle every day. I listen to music. I visit the cemetery to take flowers and sit and have some me and him time. I have flowers at home. I have photographs and videos that I look at every day. I have a lock of his hair and photo under my pillow that I sleep with every night. Spend time with his little boy.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
Because we were on holiday I avoid talking or thinking about that holiday and have struggled to look at any photos from the holiday and have no desire to go on holiday in the fear that something bad might happen.
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
Talking about him hearing his name. Having a bench made with a plaque. Reading lots of books and online material about other mums who have lost sons. Joining a local support group. Writing thoughts and reading inspirational quotes. I find Saturdays make me feel worse as that was his last day and Saturday night was when he died. I sometimes feel like reading all the reports from that night from the police and paramedics and the post mortem report. I know it’s going to upset me and make me feel worse but because I wasn’t here with him I can’t help but read it. I brought him into the world and as his mum I have the heart wrenching feeling that I wasn’t here when he left the world.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
I know the only people who truly know what it feels like are the people who have lost their child to suicide. On the whole we have found the majority of people understanding sending cards with kind words flowers and food attending the funeral texts and phone calls. Sometimes we have experienced the feeling of avoidance where because people don’t know what to say it’s easier to pretend they haven’t seen you which is fine. We are understanding to the people that feel this because what do you say there are no words and rather than say the wrong thing like “glad you’re feeling better” or “time will heal” or “I know how you must be feeling” when they clearly don’t. The people that matter to us family and true friends have been extremely supportive and don’t claim to understand what it feels like but are just there.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
I know I’m not the same person and never will be. I’m trying to be the best I can be. I don’t want to be negative and full of doom and gloom. I want to get up every day and try and find some joy in something for that day, it may be spending time with my grandchildren. Visiting the cemetery, going for a walk or a bike ride. Reading writing listening to music. I have discovered eastern philosophy meditation mindfulness and positivity. I try not to be negative about anything but find solutions it uses less energy and makes life more bearable.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
There will never be anything else in my life that is as painful as losing my son. It defies the circle of life he should have been here to see us his mum and dad grow old. It’s so final and irreversible and I know other losses may be trivial compared.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
Yes I know that some people are angry and think I should feel some anger towards him for taking his life and changing ours forever. They have been known to say he was selfish but I can’t feel this I know it’s part of the grieving process to feel like this but I can’t and that’s the hardest thing I find to put into words. I know how I feel and if anything I’m angry at myself for not seeing that he needed help and now it’s too late.
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?
I just wanted to add that what was important to me in the first few days and weeks was that I didn’t have any regrets that I would have to live with alongside my lifelong grief. I saw him as much as I wanted at the hospital and funeral parlour. We went shopping for a nice suit for him and chose something together that we knew he would like. He wore some of my husband's Masonic socks and we put some special things in with him: a comb because he loved his hair, a toy from our dog, a cuddly toy from our granddaughter, his little niece. We planned his funeral with a minister that was known to the family and a close friend read a poem. The music was important and the place we went to after the funeral was his favourite place. I don’t have any regrets apart from I had to do it but it was the best it could have been. A close friend gave me some words of wisdom “don’t make any knee jerk reactions in the early days you may live to regret."