Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
According to a song in Rent that’s how you measure a year. A year in the life of a woman and man. That’s on my mind a lot today as it has been a year since I last hugged my best friend.
I wonder if I had known then it would be the last time I would see him what I would have done. I suspect I would have held him and not let him go. I would have made sure I held on to him and talked to him and only him. I would have recorded his voice and stared at his face so that every single beautiful point on him was etched into my mind. I would have made sure that the photo I took wasn’t blurry. That it was clear as a pin.
But we didn’t know. We didn’t know that only six weeks later the world would be completely changed for so many of us. That instead of getting excited about seeing him, I would be missing him so incredibly. Wishing I had done something, anything differently on that day and that he was still here.
It’s World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2019. In the UK male suicides made up three-quarters of the 6507 deaths in 2018. It’s to raise awareness of suicide and try and prevent it. I always think ‘raising awareness’ is an odd phrase. Those people affected by suicide are very aware of it. Raising awareness of how to prevent suicide, raising awareness of spotting the warning signs perhaps, but my awareness has been suitably raised of suicide.
Whilst suicide is still stigmatised, while it’s still seen as a something people ‘commit’ like a crime, then people will keep the thoughts to themselves, and they won’t talk. If you have to say the phrase at all and I hope to God you never do, then say died by suicide.
If you manage to get someone to talk then don’t belittle what they are worried about, upset about etc. Yes you may not get upset about it but they are and that’s what matters. Again, don’t stigmatise their thoughts by saying ‘you’re not going to do anything stupid’. What you’ve basically just said is ‘you’re stupid’. That's not helpful.
If you are seriously concerned, ring 999. Don’t advise them to go to the GP, ring and make an appointment and take them. Don’t wait.
And for those helping those who are grieving, give them your time, your heart, and your ears, they need that more than they need another stew and awkward conversation.
And please remember there are organisations like the Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/) who are there to help if you need it. You do have somewhere to turn.
There’s even this random stranger behind a keyboard.
Although I have done all my GRM stuff on my relationship with him, there are still days (every day) when I miss him. And that’s OK. Grief Recovery is not about forgetting, it’s about being able to think of him without painful memories so I can enjoy the happy memories we made, and my broken heart can heal. And later, I will maybe raise a glass of fizz like we did in the park that day, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes ago.