Roz’s son Richie died by suicide when he was 28. Roz talks about her experience and how she has been supported by Child Bereavement UK.

I believe that Child Bereavement UK has been my lifeline for the last few years. If they can help me, they can help anybody, I’m sure.

Richie had learning difficulties at school, and, as he became a teenager, he had a few problems. He tended to go down wrong paths, getting in with the wrong families and children. He started taking drugs at quite a youngish age – probably about 15 – and then drinking alcohol, I think that was his way of trying to cope with life. Sadly, we had become a split family from when he was seven, so he was finding that difficult to deal with as well.

As a little boy he was so funny, he was cheeky, he was always laughing. He would do anything to help anybody and he still carried on being like that. What happened was due to what he was going through, this cycle that he was going through. I was totally optimistic thinking we can get him out of this but, unfortunately, it wasn’t the case.

Up to the day he died I was still thinking ‘We’ve got him off the drugs, he’s only on the drink, we’re trying to get him into rehab’. But I’m afraid that the idea of rehab was just a bit too much for him, he couldn’t cope with it all on his own because I’d always been the back-up. His father was a good back-up too, but Richie lived with me. I’m afraid when he took his life it was a really bad time, he wasn’t himself.

The day I was told, I was on my own in my house when two policemen arrived. I’d always feared it, but never really thought that would happen. I’m afraid dealing with reality was very hard for a long, long time. I couldn’t believe this had happened, I couldn’t believe it. When they did a post-mortem, I was very relieved to find that there was barely any drink in him and there were no drugs in him, because I don’t know how I could have dealt with that as a parent.

Breaking the news to my children was very hard. It’s very hard to tell your children something like that. The children were very good but I was always worried about talking about it too much to my younger daughter. She was doing A-levels at the time and she was very, very fond of Richie. None of my children has talked that much.

My friends have been fantastic, I have two particular friends that I could talk to every single day, that’s how I dealt with it really. My husband is quite a quiet person, but he was the person who always fed me because I didn’t really want any food.

Child Bereavement UK has been my lifeline for the last six years. I started coming to the charity about six months after losing Richie. In the early days I couldn’t deal with life very easily, but I’ve always been a very positive person. Coming to Child Bereavement UK and having one-to-one bereavement support was absolutely marvellous. We started group sessions, but the group was a mixture of people who had lost their children to all sorts of things. 

Child Bereavement UK then started group sessions for families where someone had taken their life, so you all had something in common. Up until then, I was very quiet within sessions, I couldn’t tell anybody anything. I didn’t want to, because I felt embarrassed about what had happened to Richie. I thought it wasn’t quite the norm - it wasn’t a road accident or anything like that. But I dealt with it and I’ve been dealing with it for a long time now. I’ve become quite friendly with some of the other  people who are in the same situation as me. And I wanted to give back to Child Bereavement UK what they’ve given to me, so I’ve done quite a lot of fundraising for them. I’ve raised probably about £11,500 for them which I’m so pleased about.

I’ve had the most fantastic support which has helped me come through this last five and a half years - absolutely tremendous. We’ve talked about everything - my family, my family break-up, my childhood, how Richie was as a child, his upbringing, my family generally.  Coming on a monthly basis, has helped me tremendously. Then we came to the group sessions which have made me bring up a lot of the things that were hidden inside me that I couldn’t discuss with a lot of other people. In the sessions you know you’re in a safe place, talking to people that have dealt with the same thing.

I’d want to help anybody that is going through this situation themselves because losing your child is the worst possible thing that I think anybody has to deal with. It’s all out of line - you usually lose your parents first, not your child. I still say to this day that I’ve got three children. I’m literally only just getting around to saying that I’ve lost a child. I just think, why do I need to say that? But I’m a very optimistic person and I’m getting through this.

I would advise anybody to go to Child Bereavement UK. I have pointed people in their direction and told them about Child Bereavement UK when they’ve lost different family members. I believe that they have been my lifeline for the last few years. If they can help me. they can help anybody, I’m sure.

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.