'Think about what you are leaving behind because life is precious' - young woman opens up about impact of suicide after loss of brother
An Irish woman has opened up about the impact of her brother’s suicide on her family and has said it leaves devastation in the lives of those left behind.
Michelle Ross (29) lost her brother Derek (24) to suicide in September 2015 and said that many people contemplating taking their own life don’t realise the impact their death would have on their family.
“My heart is broken not only for me, but for my family too,” Michelle wrote on her blog Needs Not Wants.
“How can parents bury their own child? When I think of how they must feel my heart feels like it’s shattering into a million pieces.
The days following Derek’s death were some of the most “horrendous” days of her life and forced Michelle to make decisions she never thought she would have to.
“Coffin shopping made me sick to my stomach and I had to leave the room.
“Picking prayers and readings for his funeral, booking somewhere for the afters, arranging flowers, songs, picking out the plot for his resting place. I don’t know now how we all managed to do those things.
“The worst was waiting to see my baby brother when he was brought home for his wake. Here he was getting taken out of a hearse in a coffin. Myself, my brother Robert and our Mam and Dad had to hold each other up. I can’t even breathe when I think about that moment,” wrote Michelle.
Michelle admitted Derek’s wake was the most difficult day of her life, in which she spent most of the time sitting in her brother’s bedroom.
“He was brought in and laid out in his bedroom. When I seen his beautiful face he looked so peaceful. I was so afraid to touch him.
“The funeral director helped me to touch his face and to give him a kiss, and then something came over me. I couldn’t stop kissing him. He wasn’t to be left in that room alone.
“Somebody needed to be with him at all times and I told everybody the same. I spent most of my time by Derek’s side.
“Rubbing his hands, his hair, kissing his face, playing him music and singing to him. I was in a daze and only felt ok when I was beside him. It hadn’t sank in that he was gone,” she said.
Since Derek’s passing, Michelle and her family have become deeply involved in raising vital funds for voluntary organisation Pieta House, which offers support to those suffering from mental health issues.
Grieving Michelle admitted that her brother’s life could have been saved if there was greater funding and support to help those who are battling mental health issues.
“Help for people with Mental Health issues in this country is not readily available and Derek is proof of that.
“Derek could have been saved with the right professional help and I firmly believe this. He didn’t want to die. He had mental health problems, and with the right treatment and care he could still be with us today,” she said.
Michelle hopes that Irish people will get out and support Pieta House’s Darkness into Light walk on May 7th which helps fund the vital service.
“When somebody talks about taking their own life, that has taken courage. It needs to be taken seriously and Pieta House does that,” she said.
Michelle asked those who are considering taking their own life to think about the people who love them and how devastated they would be to continue life in their absence.
“Think about what you are leaving behind. Try and understand that you are so loved and everyone in your life will do anything to save you. Life is very precious, don’t take it away from yourself,” she said.
For more information on Pieta House and its services visit www.pieta.ie