For the Love of Alan, by his dad Frank
Loss and devastation has entered many lives following the death of my son Alan at Lockerbie Railway Station. He was 31 years old and had endured depression and anxiety for half his life.
Alan was very good academically and in his sporting achievements, particularly his love of playing football. He qualified as a Maths Teacher, but his illness prevented him from sustaining that career. He came to live near me in Lockerbie, while attending various forms of therapy, which in the end, were not able to provide Alan with the peace he so desperately looked for.
After his death, one of Alan’s close friends wrote:
“I admired Alan’s capacity to be with his pain, and to not shy away from it, even though, in the end, he seemed overwhelmed by it. Although we would have wished for him a longer life, in truth, he is with all of those whose lives he touched. I was impressed by his honesty, and will take from it the aspiration to be more honest with myself and to bring that on to the path, as I, like many others try to make sense of this crazy world in which we exist, and of my place in it. Alan was a genuine seeker, and uncompromising in his search, qualities which I know I need to develop in order to be of greater benefit to others.”
Over 200 people attended Alan’s funeral and a substantial donation was collected on behalf of SAMH. Alan had been previously been involved in running events to raise funds.
Alan took his own life because of many complex factors, however it cannot be denied that his parents were so-called “Helicopter Parents” who intruded and influenced his problem solving processes. Consequently he became afraid of making mistakes, and often blamed himself for being not good enough.
As with Alan, I am inspired to be of benefit to others in the field of Mental Health.
What I do, is my form of therapy, and helps me to come to terms with Alan’s death. I hope it will continue to give my life a sense of purpose, suggesting that some good comes from the perceived waste, that a death by suicide brings to those bereaved, particularly a parent.
We all need to be able to grieve in our own way. My options seemed clear; move into the shadows, develop denial, seek comfort through alcohol, or face the world and try to lead as normal a life as possible. Life for me, is still so worth living.
I decided to face the world, to communicate, to have a wee job, and to seek to reduce the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that surrounds suicide, and mental health.
With my very supportive wife, I attend SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide). The group meets once a month, and, through discussion, we share our thoughts, feelings, and how our lives are progressing. We share a common bond, and we understand what we are all going through.
I attended six therapy sessions organised by the bereavement charity CRUSE. This gave me the confidence to communicate and to seek agencies dedicated to improving lives .
I am involved with a number of initiatives, including the See Me badge initiative.
I lobby politicians both local and national to encourage them to support the development of more resources to tackle mental health issues.
My transferable skills as a professional trainer led me to complete the course “ SAFE TALK” and I will attend “ASIST” training later this year, with a view to becoming a SAFE TALK Trainer, helping to communicate with a person who may be contemplating taking their own life.
This poem by Robert Burns, is dedicated to all who read this story of Alan and his dad;
Nae treasures nor pleasures
Can make us happy lang.
The hearts aye the part aye
That makes us rich or wring.
Catch the moments as they fly
Use them as you aught man
Believe me, happiness is shy
It comes not aye one sort man
Live for now
For its all ye know.