I love being a SOBS volunteer. I joined the Brighton and Hove support group in 2018 after I lost my fiancée, Olivier, just a few short months before our wedding. SOBS offers something that a lot of counselling can’t provide. People who understand what you are going through because they have been in your shoes.
As I reached the two year anniversary of Olivier’s passing I knew that I wanted to become a SOBS volunteer and take the training to become a facilitator. It was a very natural choice for me and I have never looked back. In fact, during lock-down I have started taking the first steps to re-train as a bereavement counsellor. A lot of people leave our group feeling lighter and with more clarity or understanding about why they are feeling the way they feel and with advice about what other people are doing to overcome the same feelings.
People in the group are at different stages of their grief. I lost Olivier more than 3 years ago and I have never been angry about his passing. I approach his loss with a great deal of love and appreciation for the mental prison that he was in. I can’t apply logic to an illogical situation and my brain has never gone through the chemical imbalance that Olivier experienced so I cant blame him for choosing freedom over mental torture. Also, I have never been left with the feeling that his death was something that he did to me. Of course Olivier’s death has impacted me but the new and unexpected circumstances that I found myself in after his death, for example being homeless in a foreign country (we were living together in France when he died) but I never felt the impact as a heavy burden that I had to carry and I didn’t blame him for the changes to my life that his death brought. Not least, losing him!. A lot of people that I meet through the group are really struggling with this. I try to help people free themselves from their very limiting beliefs by offering them my perspective, an alternative perspective about suicide. No blame, only love and understanding. If, and when it might be appropriate to share it with them. When you approach loss from a place of love for the person who died and understanding of their circumstances, the transition through the stages of grief can be faster than you might expect. I have also found that moving ‘through’ grief as opposed to moving past it, for example the temptation to bury, hide or ignore your feelings about the loss; can lead to some remarkable personal transformations. SOBS taught me how to feel comfortable talking openly about suicide. I hope to share that with as many people as possible. I’m very proud to be a SOBS volunteer and advocate for the important work that this wonderful organisation does for so many bereaved people.