I am a survivor despite the tragedies that have happened to me.
Gina was my only daughter, and the first-born of my three children.
Gina was a fun loving person with a bright, bubbly personality. She worked as an Occupational Therapist in London for the last few years of her life and she worked mainly with handicapped people.
She suicided at 25 after many months of depression which was not noticed by any of the professionals at her work.
It is now over 20 years since I was in hospital having tests for an unknown sickness, caught whilst holidaying in Asia.
At around 3.30 a m one morning, I was awakened by nurses shifting the old lady next to me out of the room. Very strange, as she'd had a small operation, and appeared to be perfectly healthy.
Shortly after, I was again wakened by my children's father bursting in the now closed door and stating "Gina is dead!"
I said "No, she's not" (she was living in London and was currently on holidays in the Cotswolds and then going to an abseiling course), and I turned away from them all.
Not long after this I was asked by the nurses if I wanted a pethidine injection, which I had been receiving for the past few days. I immediately said "yes" but did not realise till some time that morning, that pethidine will only cure a physical pain -raw, mind boggling emotional pain was not relieved by this previous wonder drug, which had put me in a euphoric state!
I then feigned pain for the next few days (as the reality very slowly sunk in) so I could have these needles, even though they weren't helping, as in my confused state, I thought if I continue with this, eventually this new pain will not exist. WRONG!
Much later, I realised what a strange coincidence it was -- while my only daughter lay undiscovered in the woods in England for a week, I was admitted to hospital in great physical pain. She was found by a passing Ranger at about the same time as doctors discovered what was wrong with me.
I was one of the "lucky" ones! Spared from having the police go to my door in the middle of the night as I was in hospital and not home.
A lot has happened to me since then.
My life has totally changed, my thinking, my fears, my social life, my friends, and my priorities.
I have not become a "better person", I have simply become different -- different to my old friends, different to other families.
I have not become a "stronger" person -- I must have been strong to come through the most horrific thing life could deal a person i.e. the death of a child.
It is difficult for me to explain the depth of pain I felt for so long – I could not eat and I still remember my partner forcing food down my mouth – I could not sleep, yet I was too tired to get up.
I cared about nothing and just wanted to die as at the time, I believed I would see her again.
The guilt set in fairly soon.
I was a failure as a mother, I could not even do the natural thing in life -- look after my children.
Why hadn't I noticed anything was wrong? Why did I say the wrong thing when her only love died? Why didn't I meet her for our joint holiday as had been planned? Why had I criticised her as a child? What sort of a person was I to let my friend and daughter die?
Yes, the list of "whys" went on and on in my head.
A short while after her suicide, another strange coincidence happened. The very first boy who had liked her as a teenager (they were about 14) also suicided.
Once again I felt guilty.
This new suicide must have been as a result of my daughter's -- not directly, but it must have triggered off a reaction in another young troubled mind.
Once again, guilt became a huge part of my mixed up emotional state.
Then her grandfather died nine months later (my Dad). He never quite got over the death of his favourite and only grand-daughter.
More guilt -- now it was also my fault that my mother was even more miserable.
Today, I can see a lot of the guilt was unfounded, though a small part of this useless feeling will always be with me.
I did not believe that I would ever get better. I have, despite my own earlier suicidal feelings, my own lack of will to go on in life.
A part of me died when my only daughter Gina, died.
"To forget is to deny,
To remember is to survive,
Our memories are their survival"
I will never get over her death; I will never stop loving or missing her; I will never forget that bright, bubbly personality that was, my daughter, Gina.
However I am now glad I am alive despite the recent death of my eldest son, and good friend, Todd.
Hi Finy we have known each other for more than 30 odd years and I have never known your feelings until I read this,( several times). Now I understand this completely, as you know I have recently lost my son to suicide, and he was 42 years old. I can relate to all of your feelings and I am grateful you have put them in this beautiful tribute to Gina. I remember her as a beautiful, happy and smiling girl. I hope one day I will remember my son in the same way. I am privileged to have you as my friend. Rosemary
This is a very touching article. As I think you know, I am currently dealing with the loss of my seven year old god-daughter and trying to support my friend, her mother, as well in her unbelievable pain. To know that you have survived and can write so movingly about your daughter's death has given me hope that my friend will also survive. Thank you for you candour and sharing your story with us.
Verity -if I can help just one person with this article I would be happy! It is the absolute pits and luckily i do not think most people could understand unless you have gone through it -do tell your friend, if she wants to eventually, she will survive -as I said she will not be a "better person" as many seem to think, just different.
However I should have mentioned that in the beginning I thought if I smiled, I would no longer love my daughter so I stayed in this frame of mind for almost a year till one morning I got up -went outside and the sun was shining and I thought -what a lovely day -I started to get better after that but it took about 5 years to become anywhere near "normal" again.
Finy, I am so sorry you had go through all this. I cried as I read your story. You are a strong woman and reading this will send a positive message to all those going through something or other. Sending big hugs from Melbourne !