A few months after Day 0, at a SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) meeting at the All Saints near Euston, I met a father who said, “Eight years” when I asked him how long it had been since his son died. I looked at his face as if he was the most spectacular and wondrous impossibility of the world. Is it possible to live as long as that after the death of a child? He was proof. It was. I had never seen anyone who had been bereaved that long, standing and smiling and speaking sense.
Last Monday I joined the 3 dads on the last leg of their long walk to Westminster alongside many people who want the government to add suicide awareness and helpful resources to the school curriculum. We walked and talked in the rain. I said ‘Nearly eight years’ in response to how long has it been since my son passed. I got the same look from a young mum recently bereaved. She stopped and looked into my eyes through the thick rain drops. Past and future, face to face. “Gosh! Does it get any easier?” she asked. It does, I replied, holding her hands.
All these years I have tried to keep Saagar alive in every way I could – writing, public speaking, teaching Youth Mental Health First Aid courses, advocating for young people, working with various people, charities, NHS, Churchill Trust and other organisations, making films and so on.
I have read other people’s accounts of loss, hoping to lessen my pain and deepen my understanding. The latest book I read was ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion. She says:
“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.
I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.
Let them become the photograph on the table.
Let them become the name on the Trust accounts.
Let go of them in the water.
Knowing this does not make it easier to let go of him in the water.”
Eight years! No time at all.
“Time is the school in which we learn.
Time is the fire in which we burn.”
- Delmore Schwartz.