So I Emailed Samaritans...

Content warning: this Mental Health Awareness Week I finally want to share my experience with The Samaritans and how they helped me when I was struggling to cope with the death of a loved one. There is frank discussion around bereavement.


When my cousin died, I experienced the 'anger' stage of grief very quickly, kicking the chairs and bushes at the hospital as though they were to blame. That night, and all the next day, I cried those enormous, heaving sobs that seem to use every muscle in your upper body.

And then I was fine. Or so it seemed for a little while. I still felt a small sadness, but as if it had happened years, not weeks ago.

Then the guilt came. Sneakily, it had waited until my family had started healing, then crept up on me and told me that I was to blame. I'd said the wrong thing, ignored that sign, made everything worse. They'd still be with us if I had acted differently. 

I tried to argue back, telling it that I had tried, and anyway, my cousin wouldn't want me to feel guilty and awful. But still it gnawed away, warning me not to tell my family how I felt because they would realise it was right and turn away. 
Fortunately, what guilt didn't realise is that there were other people I could talk to: Samaritans. You see, they're not just for people considering suicide, as some people still think. They're there to listen and discuss any problem with any person. I didn't feel comfortable ringing their number (116 123- memorise it, save it in your phone, please) because I'd be a snotty, incoherent mess, so chose to email jo@samaritans.org and wait a few days for a reply. 

Typing down my feelings and organising them on a page made that evil little voice stop for a moment. Seeing my story in black and white started to untwist what it had said, and when it came back it was much quieter. 

The Samaritan who replied assured me that many people feel this way and it is a normal part of grieving, they sympathised with my feelings, and asked me questions that made me think deeper to prove that guilt wrong and shut it up for good. If that was the devil on my shoulder, they became the angel.

It's important to remember that while they are trained to help, Samaritans are not the same as counsellors or psychologists, so if you feel you need this help it's best to speak to your doctor about a referral, look for self referral groups in your area, or pay for a private therapist if you are able. The important thing is to talk, and not to let that sly voice silence you.

If you've been helped by them yourself, or inspired by this post, please consider donating to Samaritans to keep their service open for anyone and everyone who needs their help, or become a Samaritan volunteer.

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