Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

A lot of people are very keen to support me and my family right now, and so many people have said “if there’s anything I can do, please ask!” So I thought: well, I’ll take you at your word, and I’ll make some suggestions, which based on your own ability/means and the level of our relationship, you can follow up on.

Emotional support

Keep checking in. I really appreciate people checking in with me. I do read all the emails and messages I get. With messages I do at least try to tap the “like” icon so you know I’ve read it but I don’t necessarily have the energy to deal with responding. Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply and also please don’t see it as a sign you shouldn’t check in with me in future. Right now, sometimes it’s easier if you ask me specific questions I can respond to. Something like “how are you?” feels too big. Changing it to “how are you today?” seems small but it’s actually a much more helpful question. If I know you well enough that you have my postal address, I really like getting mail (that’s not just condolences cards!) so do pop me a note that way too, if you like.

Keep it up. Speaking to my counsellor yesterday, she said because I have good emotional intelligence and resilience, it will be very easy for people to assume I’m doing fine. At the moment, I am sometimes getting levels of attention I find overwhelming. But in a few weeks or months, I bet a lot of that will be gone. A friend recently promised she was in this for the long haul and that means a lot.

Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. Of course, there are wrong things you can say – some of them are here – but if you avoid those things then whatever else you want to say, no matter how awkward it feels to you, is probably ok.

Please include me in your future plans. I would love to be invited to things even if I don’t know yet if I will feel up to doing them. Please don’t think that because I’m grieving I wouldn’t be interested in your concerts/going to a play/having lunch.

Please don’t be offended if I drop the ball. Grief is definitely impacting my short term memory and also making me irritable. It genuinely is not about you. Persevere.

Practical support

Be specific. Please don’t say to me “if there’s anything I can do, shout!” Because I won’t. Not just because I am a proud person who finds it hard to ask for help (though I am, and I’m trying very hard – as I hope this post shows – to overcome that to let people help me), but because at the moment it feels impossible for me to think of what you can do. Today in Aldi I felt panicky because I deviated from my plan to buy milk and bread and decided to browse, which I normally enjoy. There were too many things to pick and it felt weirdly upsetting. So. If you live locally, maybe you could message me next time you go to Aldi and say – “I’m here right now, do you need something I can drop off?” If you live far away, maybe you can say “do you want me to research what benefits you are entitled to?” (I’ve actually got that covered but maybe you can think of something else!) If you work with me, when I return to work (time tbc!), please check in with me about specific work tasks.

Think about things I can use in the future. I have been inundated with beautiful flowers, food gifts etc, which are really wonderful. But six months from now I imagine they will have dried up. I have been told that bereavement from suicide in particular is a bumpy and non-linear road so it’s entirely possible that I will have periods in a few months or even years when I feel back to square 1 and being able to just use your shopping voucher or something similar may be very helpful in getting me through a bump.

Frivolous things are ok. I’ve discovered the Chrome plug in to add anything to my Amazon wishlist and so I’ve plopped a few random things on it and will add things I like the look of when it occurs to me. I’m happy for you to use it! I’ll also put things for Grace on there too. Link is here.

Financial support

Money is awkward. No one really likes talking about money. I am not in a bad situation, I want to stress that upfront. Luckily, Kieran had a death in service benefit that will give me a lump sum that should be able to help us for quite a while (several years if I’m sensible). However, unfortunately, our shiny new bought-during-Covid-to-be-responsible life insurance is voided by the manner of his death (a whole other issue that yes, I’m very angry about), and so while Grace and I should be comfortable for quite a while, our income is taking a huge cut. As I say, we shouldn’t have any problem with day to day expenses over the next few years, especially if I’m prudent (if you personally know a good financial advisor, get in touch). But I do have some anxieties related to the fact that the future I imagined for Grace is going to be different – with Kieran’s career trajectory, we were going to be in the privileged position of being able to offer her a lot of support through university, and that’s unlikely now. If I know you well I am willing to take money to put in Grace’s savings. Please don’t offer me this if we are strangers/acquaintances, no matter how well meaning you are, because it will make me very uncomfortable!

OK, writing this whole post has made me feel a little bit weird and vulnerable, but I owe it to my daughter and to myself to keep myself as mentally and physically healthy as possible now, so I need to draw on my community to do that. So here we are. Thank you!