Just before Christmas we (me, my dad and my brother) traipsed across a muddy hillside battered by torrential rain and driving winds to finally scatter his ashes. We carefully checked the wind direction, chose a spot then Rob opened the container his remains were in and tipped...we hadn't taken into account the wind was swirling in all directions and like a bad comedy poor Rob was coated in a layer of the ashes. After a bit he handed the pot over to me and I too experienced the gritty sensation of my brother's remains in my eyes. It was an odd occasion really, in some ways we were glad the weather was so awful as it meant we were able to have our moment privately - but it was too windy to hear each other speak and so we didn't say any meaningful final words. I'm not sure what I would have said anyway to be honest, it's a very strange feeling watching ashes blow across a field knowing that they were once a person. I didn't really feel emotional, just empty. I guess there's some closure now, whatever that means. It's something that's not hanging over us at least, that stage has been dealt with.
And now it's 2014, the year Simon should have turned forty. So much is spoken about ageing and the fear of growing older, we read it all the time - "30 things to do before you're 30" as if there's a cut-off date and it's always "the big 4-0" because 40 can't be mentioned as a number - the Voldemort age. Ageing, growing old, dying; with each passing year we're reminded of that ticking clock. I realise now Simon didn't fear ageing, it was living that frightened him, believing that things would never get better. In the end I suppose dying became less terrifying than living. For me it's different and in a strange way the pain I've felt has been life affirming, if anything I appreciate life more since he died. I don't know if I'll ever truly come to terms with his suicide, I think there will always be a rawness to his death but I do understand more now that his decision wasn't made selfishly but was the action of a man who just couldn't see any other way.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. In 2012 there were 5,981 suicides in the UK, of which 77% (4,590) were male (ONS, NISRA, NRS). CALM, the campaign against living miserably, exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. You can read more about their aims here; http://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/
CALM helplines (lines open 7 days a week, 5pm till midnight)
Nationwide - 0800 58 58 58
London - Call: 0808 802 58 58 To text: 07537 404717 (Include CALM1 at the beginning of your first message.)
Merseyside - Text: 07537 404717 ( Include CALM2 at the beginning of your first message.)
The Samaritans (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) 08457 90 90 90
The Maytree Suicide Respite Centre supporting people in suicidal crisis in a non-medical setting. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from a one-off stay in a safe and confidential space, call 020 7263 7070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.