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How I Dealt With Sudden Death

Losing someone in your family unexpectedly is hard to deal with, especially when it is your own mother. It changes one's life completely.

How I Dealt with my Mother's Death

How I dealt with my mother's death, I can't explain how broken I was and did not know where I got the strength from then to carry on with normal things like living. I felt numb and felt hopeless. I was only 21 years old at the time. Just finished my midwifery course just two weeks gone and this happened.

Everything happened so quickly that there was no time to think and plan things. I suppose with sudden death, the grief is so unbearable but you have to try and carry on regardless. Looking back, there were times that I was losing hope but had to keep going for my family's sake. It was not easy at all.

Expected deaths due to illness are easier to cope with than sudden deaths I think because at least you have time to say your goodbyes to them before they die but with sudden death it is unexpected to happen. It is harder to cope with suicide victims and sudden deaths of any kind.

When my mother took her own life which left me and the family devastated for life, I did not know how I would cope. I was the eldest in the family of six children, four boys and two girls. In my culture, if you are the eldest, you automatically assume responsibility when your mother dies or your father dies come to that. I was not prepared for the responsibility in front of me at the time.

Two weeks before my mother committed suicide, I graduated as a midwife. I was so happy. My father and mother came to my graduation day and they were both very proud and happy that I have finished my two-year course midwifery and I will be able to get a job and will be able to help them in return. That was my plan.

But due to my mother's sudden death, my plans and dreams were short-lived. I began to worry about how would I cope doing what my mother used to do everything for us. But no time to worry, I just got on with it. It was really hard work but I had to do it. My blind grandfather(mother's dad) was also living with us at the time. I did not know how to care for blind people then like I do now but somehow managed. I was not prepared for that situation at all.

I had to forget all about my dreams and future plans because my family needs me most. My father just got on as well with the day to day job to provide for us and drowned his sorrows in his work.

I must say, I did not want to write this for profit or for pity as it is so personal to me but I wrote it in the hope of saving someone's life if they plan to take their own life and in the hope of leaving some tips for people to cope when one of their loved ones die thru suicide or sudden death. Because with situations like this, it can either take someone into a negative place or positive place.

With my mother's death, I could have gone into depression myself because as I said earlier, I just finished my midwifery course which I was ready to go and practice and this happens. I was being pulled into two directions. I wanted to just go away and leave my siblings, blind grandfather and dad but I could not do that. I do care about them so much even now. They were the reasons why I am here now.

Instead of focusing on my future plans, I decided to take good care of my family. I thought at the time, when my sister grows up a little then that is the time I am going to leave them and find a job.

When my sister was seven years old, my father suggested that I should go abroad and work. I did not like to go away from them but again I had no choice, it was the only way I could earn some money for us. Of course by then I have forgotten what I learnt in midwifery so I decided to try my luck working abroad. I worked in Kuwait for five years then came to work in England after that. I am still working in England now.

Photo of us

This is me with my two brothers and our youngest sister with a beige cap.

This is me with my two brothers and our youngest sister with a beige cap.

Me as a midwife then

Me as a midwife then

My Mother's Cause of Death

My mother was always low in mood most of the time because she got asthma and she knew that she has to take asthma pills for life. Her asthma is so bad sometimes that she is gasping for breaths at nights.

She always said that, it would be better if she is dead because she thought she is a burden to the family especially to my father who was the sole breadwinner at the time.

My mother also worked in the farm and took care of us at the same time. I didn't take any notice of what she was saying because I thought she was bluffing. But I was wrong, I should have listened more to my mother when she mentioned about killing herself. I thought at the time mother knows best and she won't do anything stupid, but I was wrong.

My mother has low self esteem and always think that she is not a good mother. But to me, she is the best mother I ever had. She did loved us in her own way. She even thought my father was having an affair but I know my father is not doing anything like that to upset us. Clearly my mother is depressed or have mental illness that no one in our family knows about it until she killed herself.

I wish I knew more about depression or mental illness in those days, maybe I could have saved her life. Her asthma was also bad at that time, she was coughing badly and even has become more breathless.

She drank the rat poison that they kept for the farm one evening when our father was at work, it was at night time. My mother was taken to the nearest clinic in our village but did not make it. The rat poison was so strong that it killed her quickly.

I can't forget her last words as they were taking her to the hospital, she said to me "Goodbye Linda, promise me you will look after your brothers and sister". I did not have any choice. My blind grandfather(mother's father) came up on the second floor of our house to say goodbye to his daughter before they took her to the clinic.

We were all devastated by her sudden death. I was very upset because it meant I won't be practicing my midwifery skills. I have to look after my young siblings including my blind grandfather and my father too. I never imagined that I could cope but having no choice, I had to face it. I love my family so much and I always put them first.

How I coped after My Mother's Death

How I managed the following days and months that followed after my mother's death, I did not know. My father went back to work as a miner and I looked after everyone in the house, my blind grandfather, my younger brothers and three-year old sister.

I cleaned the house, did the laundry, cooked our meals, feed our animals like chickens, dogs and pigs, and even go to the farm to tend to my mother's sweet potatoes that she planted before she died, carrying my sister on my back.

My brothers were attending primary school at the time so I had to prepare their packed lunches every morning and helped them with their home works. I asked my brothers to help me, like fetch water from the well because in our village, we don't have water taps like we have here. We had to fetch water from the well to cook our food and wash our dishes.

Then I realised why my mother used to get uptight and distressed because my younger siblings don't listen to her sometimes and I was away at school. I had to grow up so quick. It was hard to be a mother and a sister to them as well. Somehow I managed to do what my mother used to do for us but it was very hard indeed. My mother was really great in her own way. I still miss her.

That is why I did not have time to grieve over my mother's death. I was too busy looking after all my loved ones but I did it with all my love for my family. It hit me later but that's another story.

I still miss my mother though but we have a loving step-mother now who looks like our mother and she loves us all. They really look like twins but not identical. My father remarried after a few years had passed and she is a wonderful loving step-mother who loves us unconditionally. My stepmother got asthma too but she is not suicidal like my mother.

Tips on how to deal with sudden death

My tips on how to deal with sudden death:

  • Accept the situation and deal with it
  • Focus on what needs to be done now and what to do next
  • Accept that things will never be the same and some changes have to be made
  • Change your future plans if needed – it was not easy for me but I had to give up my future plans for myself
  • Be strong and help the young ones cope without having a mother
  • Be willing to accept help from other people when you can't handle everything
  • Be willing to sacrifice your career for your family
  • Learn to live and let go. Not easy but as time goes by, it gets easier.
  • Talk to other people and ask for guidance on how to cope if you are overwhelmed.
  • Try and grieve if you can, it's okay to be sad because of what happened. Have a good cry when you feel like crying. It is a part of the grieving process. It helps lighten your mood and move on.
  • Talk to a trusted friend who can understand what you are going through. It does help. My friend helped me a lot.

Lessons learnt from my Mother's Sudden Death

I now understand what my mother was going thru when she killed herself. I think she was very depressed at the time but I did not know the meaning of depression in those days.I wish that I know a lot more about mental illness or depression then maybe I could have saved her but there are things we only learn after something happens.

I only understood the meaning of depression when I experienced it myself but because of what happened to my mother, I was determined to live and find ways to get out of depression. Also if I hear anyone saying they are depressed or they want to die, they should be listened to. If we can't help them, maybe we can find others who can help them. A lot of people suffer with depression due to different reasons but they are not getting enough help they need.

I think mental illness is a disease that should not be ignored because people who can not cope with it often end up killing themselves like what my mother did. Because they can't see an end to their problems or a way out of it.

How to deal with sudden death poll

© 2015 Linda Bryen

How to deal with sudden death comments

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on October 09, 2019:

Thank you Mary for your lovely comment. I am sorry I haven't replied sooner. It was a very difficult situation then up to these days I can't tell you how I managed to get thru it. I think because I was busy looking after my siblings, my dad and my then grand dad, I just coped. I just had to do what I can for my family because I love them.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on November 19, 2018:

I can't imagine the mixture of emotions that would have been going through your mind. You did what you had to do in a difficult situation.

I'm happy that your father remarried and that your family is doing well. You said you graduated in midwifery, did you pursue that in England as well?

Linda Bryen on July 21, 2018:

Thank you Cynthia for your kind comment. My responsibility has lessened a bit but I still make sure that they are okay especially my father and stepmom. I miss them a lot.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on July 21, 2018:

Dear Linda, this is a very moving story. You had a lot of responsibility thrust upon you, quite apart from regular grieving your mother's death. I am hoping that you have enjoyed many blessings in your life as the grief and responsibilities have lessened, and that you have enjoyed the rewards of having served your family so selflessly.

Linda Bryen on July 13, 2018:

Thank you so much Audrey for your kind comments. It was so hard at first but I learnt to live with it. Yes, it is not easy to lose someone in the family especially your own Mum.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 13, 2018:


You are a courageous, loving and giving person. As I read your story I couldn't keep back the tears. I just want to reach out and hug you. How brave you are!

I know about grief. I've been grieving for my beautiful son for 11 years. I'm so sorry about your mother. Mental illness is hard to see when it involves your family, especially a parent. My own mother lived with a mental illness but I didn't recognize this until I was much older.

Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the very best with love and appreciation.


Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on August 01, 2015:

Thank you, Dolores for visiting my hub and for your kind comments.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 01, 2015:

Not having time to grieve is not a good thing. I found myself in this situation 2 years ago. Helping out other people is so good for you, but grief is an important part of loss. It's bad enough to be crazy with grief, but being crazy with worry over another loved one is terrible. I don't know how I got through it. Having the support and love of other family and friends was very helpful.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on July 15, 2015:

Thank you Jack for reading my hub and for your kind comment Hope it helps others to cope when sudden death occurs.

Jack Hagan from New York on July 15, 2015:

Thank you so much and I think that the experience you shared here will be a guide for a lot of people. It can really provide them strength to cope with the unexpected death of their loved one.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on May 27, 2015:

It happens to people like me and some people and it is not a very easy situation to be in. We all suffered because of what our mother had done, my only regret is I wish I could have prevented her from doing it.

monia ben saad from In my Dream on May 27, 2015:

Thanks for this important subject , actually , all we see in a sudden death is terrified persons , which can cause diseases , heart attack and even more , that's why all of as should be cool when we hear such things , for many reasons , to evitate health problems and also to not influe other family members and make the situation bigger .

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on March 10, 2015:

Thank you Cynthia, I understand how your husband feels, sometimes it is better to keep busy and also for him to talk to you about how he feels because it does help. But some people just want to busy themselves to forget their grief. It is okay to feel sad sometimes, we are only human, we got feelings. But we all react differently to situations like death or illness.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 10, 2015:

It is perfectly Ok to use my first name :). My fiance' does his best to cope and is always there for my son and I. I just know how hard it is on him. He spends a lot of time tinkering in the garage when he feels down. Since it was something they all did together.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on March 10, 2015:

HI! Cynthia(hope it is okay to call you by your first name), first of all I thank you for reading my story and thank you for kind comments. I am sorry to hear about your fiancée's grandfather, stepfather and father passing away, too. It must be hard as you said you haven't got much family as well. I am the opposite, I have a big family and we support each other. I hope your husband will be strong for you and your son.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 08, 2015:

Thank you for sharing your story and writing this article! I am voting up, amazing and beautiful. My fiances Grandfather took his life a few months ago and it has to be one of the hardest things he has ever suffored. His father was murdered when he was young, and his stepfather just died in the past few years as well. His Grandfather was by far his favorite living family member. He was a farmer and and a mechanic and we loved to go and talk to him. We always learned something. My fiancé has been devastated ever since the loss. Once of the hardest things is that our son will never get to know him, and we do not have much family at all.

You are a very strong woman and you should have great pride in all that you took on upon your Mothers death.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 20, 2015:

Pennyforyourthots, thank you for your kind comment and fro reading my hub.

Pennyforyourthots on February 20, 2015:

Wow, you are a very strong woman! Thank you for sharing your story with us. It was very touching and had some very good advice.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 10, 2015:

Thank you CrisSp for your kind words. I just hope I can help others or give some hope for others who went through depression and sudden death like I did.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on February 09, 2015:

Depression hurts and hard to understand unless you're actually in the situation or have experienced the ordeal. I know how it feels...I've been there.

I'm sorry to hear about the way you lose your mom. May God bless you for the sacrifices that you have done for your family.

You're one very strong woman and I applaud you for that.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 09, 2015:

Thank you Denise, for your kind comment. There are times that it gets me down, I just kept thinking positive all the time.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on February 09, 2015:

Sudden death is traumatic, especially when someone in our immediately family takes their own life. It changes our world dramatically. You are a strong person to have picked up and kept your family going in spite of this difficulty! Your example is a great source of strength to your loved ones.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 05, 2015:

Thank you Maureen, I think I find writing makes me express what I have been keeping in my mind for very long time. Now it is all coming out. Let us hope others can benefit from it too. I like your hubs too, Maureen. You write very good travel hubs which is very interesting.

travmaj from australia on February 05, 2015:

You made the right decision to write this and I hope it gets the attention it deserves. It couldn't have been easy to write. I've enjoyed all your hubs Linda - keep 'em coming. Cheers Maureen

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 05, 2015:

Hi! Maureen, first of all, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It took me a while before I made the decision to write about this very personal experience of mine as I know one of the policies for writing here is not to write about personal topics but I thought it might help others who had the same experience like mine. If I save even just one life then that would be nice. My midwifery did not get used but no regrets. I still found other ways of earning an income to help support my family. Thank you for always commenting on my hubs from the beginning.

travmaj from australia on February 04, 2015:

Linda, you wrote this with such honesty, from the heart, so touching and emotional. How sad to lose your lovely mother so suddenly, in such a devastating way.

Sorry to learn your career plans didn't eventuate after all your hard work. However, you did a wonderful job caring for your family. Tough times need extra special people, many of us couldn't cope.

Yes, depression is difficult to understand and come to terms with. Your advice to seek help for ourselves or others is a must. Sometimes though, we just can't come to terms with it.

Thank you for writing this Linda - thinking of you - Maureen aka Maj

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 04, 2015:

Thank you once again Ann for your kind comment and the support. Yes, I still feel sad about it at times but it helped me grow up so quick and know how to empathize with people who suffer the same tragedy.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 04, 2015:

I thought that if we angled it correctly, as you have done, then anyone can write about this sort of thing on HP. It's personal, yes, but it's advice, a 'How To' hub which HP seems to favour above everything.

It was still brave to expose yourself to what must still be raw emotions.


Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 04, 2015:

Thank you LongTimeMother for your kind comment, it was hard at the time coping with everything but we managed and we all have moved on from it. It affected my whole life that I never got to practice my midwifery but on the other hand, I made sure that my younger siblings have a good future. I went and worked abroad as a nanny and sent money home for their school tuition fees and their other needs like food. Thank you once again LongTimeMother.

Linda Bryen (author) from United Kingdom on February 04, 2015:

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my hub, Ann. It took me a while to write this as we are not supposed to write about personal stuff like this but if it saves someone's life then it would be good. I took a chance.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 04, 2015:

A poignant story and a strong, helpful message. You are one in a million to have done such a thing. Many say that when they have to, they just get on with it. They do say that at some stage there must be a grieving process though.

It takes courage to write about such things but sharing this might save someone's life and would be an invaluable support to anyone dealing with such a situation.


LongTimeMother from Australia on February 04, 2015:

Oh, you wonderful woman. It must have been very difficult to put your dreams on hold and take responsibility for your family.

Did you get a chance to work as a midwife?

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