I opened the box of Christmas decorations as carefully and as nervously as an archaeologist might approach a long lost haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure. This, to me, was much more precious; a collection not of gold but memories, a time capsule of the way things used to be, before.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Every year the Samaritans publish a grim document; an annual review of suicide statistics in the UK. The latest edition reveals that there were 6,122 recorded suicides across the four home nations in 2014. Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that around 800,000 people die by suicide each year.
Numbers of this magnitude are hard to relate to without being broken down into a more meaningful scale. Put another way, we can say that Louise's tragedy is repeated across the country approximately 16-17 times every single day and around the world every 40 seconds. In the time it takes you to read this blog post another four or five people will have killed themselves. But even these statistical devices do not begin to convey the real impact of suicide. The raw numbers represent thousands of individual stories of despair, thousands of lost hopes and dreams. Thousands of people who did not want to die but felt that they were unable to live any longer.
Friday, 12 August 2016
I'd been trying all summer to leave work early enough to enable me to catch some Friday evening cricket at The Oval and now I had finally managed to do so. Sitting bathed in the mid summer sunshine, absorbing the laughter and high spirits of 23,000 spectators all around me, out to enjoy themselves at the start of that rarest of things, a sizzling hot weekend, I was overcome by a sense of liberation, even elation. 18 months almost to the day since Louise's death, my head was clear of the constant churn of thoughts that has occupied it for so long now. The tinnitus of grief had abated. In that moment, at least, I was relaxed and happy. More than that; I no longer felt such a separation from those around me. Their world was, once more, mine too. I could enjoy it as they were. It felt like a profound re-connection with normality.
Saturday, 9 July 2016
Even as I stood staring up at Louise's body, numbed, bewildered, shocked and silently screaming in despair, I somehow found space in my brain to recognise the irony of the situation. In the course of her professional career Louise had seen, examined and dissected numerous dead bodies. Death was, to her, an unremarkable commonplace. While I returned home from work on an evening and talked over the dinner table of office politics, Louise might casually mention a death certificate she had signed or a patient with a terminal diagnosis as if it was no more important, and possibly less so, than my trivia. I came to understand that this normalisation of death and tragedy was not callous disregard for the suffering of fellow humans but a necessary coping mechanism common to all doctors. But now here was I encountering death close up for the very first time - and it was on a far more personal and horrific scale than anything Louise had ever witnessed herself. Now it would be me that needed to develop a similar coping mechanism.
Friday, 29 April 2016
'Just Carry on Breathing - a year surviving suicide and widowhood', containing the collated content of the blog and much new material is available to purchase online now, in paperback and ebook form (It is also available in the US on Amazon.com)
The book is raising money for two worthy causes close to my heart. All my royalties will be donated to WAY Widowed & Young, a charity which supports those widowed under the age of 50 and the Louise Tebboth Foundation, the charity established in my wife's memory to assist doctors at risk of suicide.
Saturday, 2 April 2016
As I sat huddled in a foetal position on the floor of the ambulance the night that Louise died, I had no conception of what the future held. Everything that I knew about it, without exception, had been stripped away from me. I was staring into a void, both bewildering and terrifying for its complete lack of form. Five minutes was an impossibly distant and unknowable horizon. I had no clue what was going to happen once the paramedics and police had finished speaking to me, never mind where or how I was going to live from now on.
Friday, 26 February 2016
For a brief moment the dull but ever present ache of loneliness abated. Standing embracing a fellow widow in a prolonged hug of mutual understanding and support as we said farewell after meeting for coffee, I allowed myself to become lost in the sheer warmth and reassurance of the physical contact, momentarily snuggling into her and remembering all over again the pleasure of once more holding and being held by a woman, even if only platonically. Embarrassingly, the relief was so strong that I let out an involuntary low groan of sheer contentment.
Saturday, 23 January 2016
My Sweetheart, it's now exactly a year since the fog swirling around in your mind became so dense that it obscured all hope, a year since you took what you saw as the only practical solution open to you in order to ease the pain. It's a year since we cuddled up to each other in bed, a year since I heard you tell me that you love me, a year since I saw your smile, felt your touch or shared your presence. It's a year since I last read to you, made you your favourite cup of mint tea or massaged away the tensions of your day. It's been the longest year of my life, one in which I have hurt over you more than I ever thought it was possible to hurt, cried over you more than I ever thought it was possible to cry and loved you more than I ever thought it was possible to love.
Sunday, 3 January 2016
The beat of the music from open air concerts on the trendy Waterfront district was interrupted by fireworks soaring into the air against the awe inspiring backdrop of Table Mountain and the drunken cheers of the sweltering crowds of locals and tourists densely thronging the streets and packing the quayside bars and restaurants. Cape Town was celebrating the arrival of the New Year with a carnival vibe and I found myself wondering whether or not to join everybody in welcoming it in or to regret the passing of the old year.