Emma shares her story about losing her former partner, Carsten to suicide in 2014. She is crrently a practitioner for our West Yorkshire Suicide Bereavement Service, beginning her role with LSBS in October 2019. She also describes what she thinks is valuable about anyone gaining or giving support after a suicide loss.
Losing Carsten – Former partner.
Carsten would light up any room that he came in to. The swagger of his walk with the slight uplift in right shoulder. He had an infectious laugh. He could hide his emotions and anyone he met would not have a hint of what he might be going through. He would do anything for anyone and had no judgement to anyone he met. I met Carsten in 2009 at a weight loss camp for children and young adults and that is where our friendship grew. We would also joke that we met losing weight which in fact we were leaders of the camp. After we separated, we kept in touch and supported each other.
I have never written about losing Carsten before. Although as a Postvention Practitioner I talk about my experience with clients every day. I lost Carsten April 2014. I still remember that night so clearly. It was those last moments which would be the most difficult in years to come. I would often subconsciously fantasise about doing things differently and whether the outcome had been different. My last conversation with him that night and the ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’ could be so traumatic.
The coming days and weeks after he passed away I had not remembered what had happened until talking about it recently. I remember joking saying ‘it’s the best diet ever‘… I guess my effort to hide how I was feeling. We were due to go on a family camping weekend on the Thursday I remember a family member not arriving at the time he should of, and the heightened anxiety of thinking has he got hurt or died. Unfortunately losing someone to suicide you have a heightened sense of anxiety of losing someone if they haven’t text you back, been online recently or not turned up.
That camping trip was needed more than I thought. The escape to the mountains to walk up big hills and to just cry. My Tattoo idea was born that day. Carstens love of music and a quote of mine. I would have very normal dreams about him but waking up and realising he was gone was like losing him all over again.
Memories and triggers were difficult not knowing what to do with myself when a certain song came on or a smell or even someone that look like him. Wedding were especially difficult these were supposed to be happy times but ‘don’t back in anger’ which was played at his funeral is always a firm favourite. In time exposure has helped me to be kind to myself during these difficult times to sit with it although it might be difficult.
In the coming months I pushed myself into fundraisers and Tough Mudder to raise awareness of mental health. Something that I now know lots more about. I was fortunate enough to keep in touch with his family and friends to share those precious moments and memories about him. We still meet up to connect on birthday or around the time he died.
I see myself as a strong resilient person so these deep traumatic emotions were hard, and I would often act as if I was ok but silently cry myself to sleep. I have learned now that it is so important to talk whether it is small or big.
I now have been working for the Suicide Bereavement Service and think the support is invaluable for anyone that has lost someone to suicide. We want to break through that stigma and education about Suicide. The more I talk about suicide bereavement the more open others can be. And for anyone supporting someone that has lost someone Suicide, be there for your loved one, it’s about listening and not feeling like you must provide answers to what has happened.
‘You will survive, and you will find purpose in the chaos. Moving on doesn’t mean letting go’ – Mary Vanhaute
If you have experienced a bereavement by suicide, please refer to us today for support.