Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Me and a room of 29 men!

Well I had enjoyed being wined and dined by three men on Monday evening ... last night I was with 29!

I had a very pleasant morning in York with Clive's sister Lynn. I actually got a new pair of sandals - not an easy feat for me! We had a scrumptious home-made bagel in 'The Hairy Fig' cafe. Yummy! I drove her home roof down, shades on and both of us singing along to my favourite 'Just the way you are' by Bruno Mars. Fab!

I spent the afternoon with Chris and Mary from and Pete Evans from Altum-V who is kindly helping both myself and the Foundation.

I got ready and Chris and I went to the George Hotel in Huddersfield to present to the Huddersfield Pennine Rotary Club. 

It reminded me of the first 'spontaneous' talk I had to do. Thirty years ago I was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Runcorn to attend a three week Outward Bound course in Wales. I loved it! We walked, climbed, did water sports, Adventure courses, a four day expedition - finishing with cream crackers, strawberry jam and tuna for our final breakfast! On the course in the trees my major challenge had been to run across a horizontal beam with nothing to hold onto. It took some cajoling but I finally did it. For many years when faced by a challenge I used to picture that log and remind myself I COULD do something. These last weeks I have been faced by many of these!

After the course I was invited to go back 'and tell a few of the Rotarians' about it. I expected two or three. I arrived at the lunchtime venue to be placed on top table in front of around 50 members. As the meal progressed Mr. President turned to me and asked,
"Tell me Miss Walsh, how long is your talk?"
At 17, off the cuff I delivered a successful 30 minutes presentation to a room of middle-aged men. An excellent start to what was to come ..

In contrast last night should have been easier. However, one of this Rotary club members was Samuel Smith, the loving father of Joanne Bingley, who took her own life last year and for whom the Foundation I am a trustee of. He had asked Chris and I to talk to his fellow Rotarians about our work.

Chris, me and Mr. President
Chris did an overview of the reasons behind the Foundation and I followed with my story. As I spoke I outlined how I suffered like Joanne and had geography been different I too could have ended my life when I was so distressed. I found a church doorway - had a motorway or railway line been in the way, who knows. I also stressed how I am even more passionate about avoiding deaths and unhappiness now I know first hand what the pain of loss really feels like, in life without Clive.

As a charity we received gratefully a donation which will fund more of informative 'z-cards'. Thank you.

It was a pleasure to meet Sam. Knowing the happiness baby Sophie and her Mum Claire have brought us these last 16 months magnifies what Joe's family are mourning and missing. My heart goes out to them all. I just wanted to hug Sam and not let go. Losing my Clive has blown me apart but losing your child at any age is worse.
Me and Sam
I remembered some research I had done for a Samaritans conference I spoke at a couple of years ago, where the theme was supporting those left behind after a suicide. People are even more unsure of how to react to the bereaved in those circumstances. I found some useful sites and information on this here

In particular I thought that this website had some good tips on helping.  such as 'What to Say',

  • Knowing what to say to the bereaved can be the biggest challenge. A few guidelines are listed below:
  • try not to say 'committed' suicide. This harks back to a time when suicide was a crime and some bereaved people find it distressing. You can say died by suicide, suicided, took their life 
  • do not use clich├ęs and platitudes to try and comfort by saying things like 'you're so strong', 'time will heal', 'he's at peace now', 'you have other children', 'you'll get married again' or 'I know how you feel.' While well-intentioned, they rarely comfort and can leave the bereaved person feeling misunderstood and more isolated 
  • don't avoid the subject of suicide. This can create a barrier making it hard for them to discuss personal issues later 
  • avoid judgements about the person who suicided such as saying they were selfish, cowardly or weak, or even brave or strong. People need to come to come to their own understanding of the person and what has happened 
  • avoid simplistic explanations for the suicide. Suicide is very complex and there are usually many contributing factors 
  • listen and hear their experience 
  • be truthful, honest and aware of your limitations: acknowledge if you don't understand or know how to react to what they are going through 
  • say the name of the person who has died and talk about them. Not saying their name can leave the bereaved feeling as though the one who died is being forgotten or dismissed 
  • be aware of those who are grieving who may be forgotten, for example, children, grandparents, friends 
  • ask "How are you getting along?" and then really listen to the response. Stay and hear and try to understand. Allow the person to speak whatever they need to however difficult and complex it is.
I truly hope that our presentation has gone some way into helping Sam's colleagues in Rotary realise how his beautiful and incredible daughter could take her life. I also help it will encourage others to offer the support that the family and others like them need. I know how much comfort and pleasure I get from other people talking to me about their memories of Clive. Often it is just nice 'to be' and share in silence, lost in memories.

Chris teased me last night that we have a sibling relationship! We do and long may it continue along with our sitting together and reminiscing about our lost loves as well as our hopes for the future. Love you heaps Bro!!

Are you attached to a Rotary or Inner Wheel Club who may like us to pop along?

Elaine x

No comments: