Struggling to have a baby has shaped my life. So now has swimming the Channel. But today, I want to tell you about something else that has made me who I am which I’ve never written about before.
On my eighteenth birthday, my best friend’s brother committed suicide. He was not only my best friend’s brother, he was also my boyfriend’s best friend. For a while the four of us were inseparable until Adam made the decision to separate us by taking his own life.
My birthday never passes without remembering how on that night, Adam was alone in his room at university, and the other three of us were in my bedroom at home making plans to go and visit him at the weekend. We knew he had been feeling down and wanted to cheer him up but none of us imagined that within just a few hours we would be going to sit by his hospital bed. He never regained consciousness after jumping from his college room window.
Many people were affected by Adam’s death, but none more so than my best friend Tara. They were so close. And what was even more cruel, is that she had already been through more than any child should. She had lost her mother when we were just thirteen to cancer and her father suffered from severe mental illness often being hospitalised for weeks at a time.
Several years ago, Tara started writing about the grief of her childhood and what it’s taught her. She’s one of the wisest women I know and has something to teach us all. On 1st September her book – Standing on my Brother’s Shoulders – was published and on Tuesday she was interviewed by Jane Garvey on Woman’s Hour. If you’ve been touched by suicide, by cancer or by mental illness, I hope you’ll listen to Tara’s interview and read her book. In fact, if you know anything of grief, and surely we all know grief, then hers is a story for you.