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Death that is Chosen

I have just taken a call from a kind, intelligent and genuine lady with whom I have worked as a celebrant for on previous occasions. When I spoke to her today I was not expecting the conversation to unfold as it did... Her beautiful son had chosen to end his life.

In both my roles as a funeral director and now as a celebrant, I have worked with many families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Whether we like it or not, death is with us throughout our lives and comes to us all. It is a source of deep anxiety for many of us. But the hardest death to grieve, in my humble experience, is always the death that is chosen. It brings with it a grief and loss that strains the ability to endure.

The year 2018 has been alarming to say the least. Since the beginning of the year I personally have worked with four families in helping them say goodbye to their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. All of whom felt they could no longer exist in this life. Something is not right!

With severe cuts to budgets, staffing and a penchant for prescribing pills as the first option, we are facing a pandemic of loneliness and depression. Did you know that suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 – 49 years in England and Wales? And that one person in fifteen has made a suicide attempt at some point in their lives.

Trust me when I say, that once you are immersed in that dark place. Immersed in the struggle of such powerful and raw emotion, it is very difficult to claw your way back out again. Dark and intrusive thoughts, feelings of loss and failure, loneliness, rage and anxiety, are just a handful of the veritable range of emotions that your mind serves up for you to digest.

Every person dealing with a mental health issue is fighting on their own battlefield. Fighting against such adversaries that overwhelm you and exhaust the last remnants of your strength and courage. We try and overcome the war that rages in our psyche by taking the obvious steps. Seeing the GP, talking to a counsellor or someone you trust, medication and so on…

These things may seem obvious and straight forward, but when you are in a spiral of dark depression, it will be the last thing you feel like doing. I am not writing these steps off, for many they have been effective and provided a life-line. But I believe we should be looking at stripping everything right back to basics.

Eat Well – provide your brain with the correct nutrients it needs to function properly. Oily fish, broccoli and eggs are nutrient dense and readily available. Avoid processed foods – if it comes from a plant GOOD – if it is made in a plant BAD!

Drink sensibly - alcohol will only change your mood temporarily leaving you feeling worse when it wears off.

Do something that you love! - immersing yourself into a hobby is a great way to boost your self-esteem. It could be painting, walking, reading a good book or taking a course. The important thing is to get your brain firing on all cylinders and nothing does it better than lighting up the circuits with pleasure and enjoyment.Simply enjoy the very moment you are in.

Accept who you are – we are all different. It is much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were like someone else. In my experience the person you are coveting is feeling insecure too!

Care for others – this is a biggie! Helping out can make us feel needed and valued which will boost your self esteem. When we see the world from another angle, it can help to put our own problems into perspective. Find out more about volunteering at

And for everyone else – STOP JUDGING PEOPLE. As a society we are so judgemental towards others. We are quick to question and doubt the good qualities we hear about a person but believe without a second thought the bad.

“What is she wearing?!”

“Its no wonder he/she is depressed, look at the family she’s from”

“I wouldn’t raise my children like that”

“They need to pull their socks up”

I could go on…

Why do we vilify the people who don’t fit into our boxed perceptions of what is right? If we all took small steps to address our own perceptions (and I’m not exempt from it), we would make an indelible mark in the blanket of anxiety and depression that is crippling our society.

The sharpest critics and those known for pointing out the mistakes and flaws in others, are often the ones who are blind to their own shortcomings and insecurities.

Don’t let them get you down! A critical parent, a nosey neighbour, a boss with no empathy. Whoever is judging you, imagine that they are holding up a mirror in front of themselves every time they pass judgement. Metaphorically speaking they are - and everything they say is simply a reflection of how they really feel about themselves.

So, if even a small portion of what I am saying resonates with you please remember – YOU ARE ENOUGH!! You are a beautiful being of love and light that is loved more than you will ever know. The funeral of a person through suicide is ALWAYS standing room only. They will stand for you in life too if you will just let them.

For anyone struggling visit the Mental Health Foundation website:

There is lots of sound advice for anyone suffering and for the people who love them.

Thank you for reading to the end... I couldn't ignore it any longer!

Liz x


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