Farewell bitter winter; hello hopeful spring?

Our lives this year have been like the seasons; unpredictable and inescapable. There are hints we can shake off our layers gathered over winter and venture out with a sense of freedom that the warmer spring days offer, but beware spring is a fickle season and teases us. September 1 in the Southern Hemisphere is technically the start of spring but as soon as one is tempted to stow away the woollies Jack Frost and sleety snow return.

Our lives are like the seasons that change from dark and gloomy to the flourish of new growth seen in the abundance of blossoms and flowering bulbs to the inquisitive new-born calves along our fence line.

We choose to celebrate the gift of life. Earlier this year we lost my 39 year-old-stepson to suicide. His Dad and I knew that he had suffered from highs and lows throughout his life but not to the extent that he would take his own life. We have decided to be open about the circumstances of Matt’s death. This has encouraged others to share their stories with us. While there is much being done to raise awareness about depression and suicide; the numbers continue to climb and more families, friends and workmates are left numb with the loss and waste of another life.

It has been a difficult and sad time for us, but we choose to embrace life and the memory of Matt positively. Our faith and support of friends and neighbours have made the grief more bearable. But it never goes away. When I hear of another suicide, my heart goes out to their loved ones. Never be afraid to ask someone if they are OK and offer a listening ear if needed or practical help to ease their distress. Remember not everyone will accept your offer but sometimes you may be the right person at the right time.

For those left behind as my husband has found, it is sad and at times a frustrating process of dealing with the coroner’s court, police, funeral directors, solicitors and even fractured family relations. Five months later we are still trying to sort out the legalities while we grieve in our own ways.

Mental health is complex and many of us at some stage of our lives experience depression, anxiety, trauma and grief. For most of us, that dark season of our life ends and can be like a daffodil stretching towards the sunlight in spring with the promise of renewed hope. The dark clouds and icy tentacles of winter have been replaced in my heart and mind, reminding me how precious every single moment is.

For those still struggling we need to advocate for better services and more funding; combined with increased public awareness around suicide prevention. We also need to aim for a kinder and more caring world for all. If you are struggling there is help out there. 

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

You can also visit the following websites for useful resources and support.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

https://www.ruok.org.au/

The following website addresses the issue of understanding the available data and how to apply it to the various suicide prevention approaches and programs in this country https://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/about-suicide/suicide-data

And here is an American website promoting a suicide prevention campaign during September.

https://nationaltoday.com/national-suicide-prevention-month/

13 Comments

    1. Many thanks, Andrea. In my previous work, I came across a lot of different people with mental health issues. Some I was able to talk through their suicidal thoughts and advocate for them. The sad part is when it comes to your own family and friends you feel helpless that you couldn’t do more or pick up the signs. But if someone is fiercely independent and doesn’t share, it makes it difficult. The death of Danny Frawley the ex-St Kilda player resonated with me this week especially after his wife’s comments about his struggle with mental health. We need to remove the stigma and make it a number one priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I found it interesting that today I read from another blogger friend about the mental health issue here in the US. I agree so much that a “kinder and more caring world” would help immensely. I have struggled with depression most all of my life, and I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by pivotal people at crucial times, and I had fortune to have good health insurance most of the time to afford professional help. I have read tons of self-help books to encourage. I know for some people, running into that one compassionate person, who might give a hug or offer encouragement, is what can get a troubled person through the day.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your step-son. The process after such a loss has got to be frustrating and emotionally draining. I’m sending love and compassion to you and your husband on the summer winds (we are just now approaching autumn here)… for healing.

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    1. Wow. Thank you for sharing as well. I never picked you as someone who struggled with depression but as we know many people can mask it. We have close friends who over the years have battled with depression. The one positive is that people are more willing to talk openly about it now. I am optimistic person by nature but as I have got older anxiety has crept in especially since 2013 when I was exposed to a lot of stress at work and home. Through it all though I have a loving and supportive husband. This morning although it was a chilly 0 degrees, the sun shines, the birds sing and Mother Nature continues to nurture us. Enjoy your autumn days – I love that season for its settled weather and colours.

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      1. I grew up with domestic abuse, so our whole family suffered. All of my siblings have struggled with depression and one sister has more serious issues. Developing good coping skills was probably the hardest adjustment. It is easy to turn to numbing agents like alcohol and drugs. For me, I threw myself into “farm girl” work mode. It is still how I handle stress – hard work. It takes a lot of courage, constantly being cognizant of pitfalls and backsliding. I understand sometimes it’s just too much and too overwhelming for people to battle. It’s impossible to know if there was anything more you could have done for your son. Without walking in the shoes of another, we cannot completely understand.

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      2. I totally agree with you, Lori. With Matt, it wasn’t like we didn’t know something was going on. He felt trapped in his work, was self-medicating and trying to deal with some pain management issues. But there were many good memories that we shared as a blended family. When I went through my photos for the funeral, lots of lovely reminders of fun and adventures we had over 30 years. Normal family stuff. I think some of us are more resilient than others when we reach adulthood. As you say it is a different journey for each one of us.

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