Suicide barged permanently into my family’s life on Tuesday 8th February 2011. I was bereaved by suicide and in my head, I knew immediately the heartache to come, whilst my heart struggled to comprehend the loss of my eldest child and only daughter.
I was powerless, had no choice and no control – probably the main reason I volunteered to set up and run a support group for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide in my hometown. To take some control, it’s my choice, and in time I hope to lessen the power of the shadow hanging over the rest of our lives. Whilst I’d lost loved ones previously, nothing remotely came close to the emotional turmoil and devastation of losing Nicola by her own hand.
Also, the nearest group to us at the time was over an hour away and I felt I would be able to draw on my experience of running support groups for the charity I worked for at the time of our daughter’s death. Also, unfortunately, there was a cluster of suicides and attempted suicides, many young, in our area in the months and years after Nic’s death, something that bothers me due to the media coverage of Nic’s death.
When setting up the group I had two main concerns, fundraising and was I strong enough? I had developed a habit of bursting into tears at any time.
Fundraising; early on I decided to only raise just enough to cover venue hire, refreshments and the cost of a dedicated mobile. Ultimately both my husband and I were happy to cover the costs for a while but we didn’t need to, family & friends were very generous and two car boots later we had enough funds to run for a year. Then once the group was up and running, we benefited from wonderful donations. After attending my first volunteer’s conference in November 2013, we will ensure that we support the running costs of head office as much as we can, as we would be lost without their helpline, resources, advice and encouragement.
Was I strong enough? I don’t need to be strong on my own, we all support each other, a lot of people are on Facebook and we have regular contact between meetings, as our grief ebbs and flows facing anniversaries, birthdays and the festive season. We are there for each other; we explore the complicated emotions that we barely understand in a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere. And tears, yes, I cry for my daughter and I most likely always will, I’m comfortable with that.
Rest in peace Nicola Ann Orridge, you are loved and missed every single day. Something special has come from such a waste.