Hello, I’m Ruthie and I am the most recent staff member to join the Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service (LSBS). My journey doesn’t start here, it started in October 2014 when I lost my younger brother to suicide. At the time I didn’t know who to turn to for help so went to my GP, she was very compassionate and kind but she didn’t really know of any services available who could help. There was waiting list for counselling, and other bereavement services were difficult to get to. It was by chance that I came across a small volunteer led service called Loss After Suicide, these were people affected by suicide who realised there was no support available so decided to create a group. At that time Peer Support wasn’t as established as it is now, they were doing it without knowing that was what they were doing.
LSBS developed in July 2015, I was a regular, sometimes semi-regular participant depending on my shifts and what was going on at that time. There was a lot going on, as most people who are grieving will agree, it affects everything. It took me about 2 years to feel even slightly ‘normal.’ Through the groups and sharing of experiences, I’ve learned to manage my grief and carve out a new normal, or putting it better, a new way of existing.
There are days and times of year (his birthday and the anniversary) when I don’t manage, I wake up unable to do so, but after attending the groups I’ve learned that this is okay, and I’ve learned new ways of coping.
As a way of thanking the service that was there when I really needed the support, I put myself forward as a volunteer, which became sessional work and is now a permanent position. It is my hope that I can offer support to those who need it by sharing my own experience of bereavement so that the awful and overwhelming experience that it is may not be as awful or overwhelming. I would also like to help raise awareness of suicide.
If you are reading this and you are affected by the suicide of someone close to you I hope you find something in it that you can relate to and perhaps even a glimmer of hope in what is an incredibly dark time. If you are interested in accessing the service look for the yellow – Refer Yourself – link on the homepage.