After a lifetime battle with depression, I lost my darling husband and soulmate, Paul, of nearly twenty years to suicide last January 2016.
We had been living in New Zealand for the last three and a half years, so it was and still is particularly difficult to be away from family and my UK home. My family means so much to me, and they were so fantastically supportive that some flew over at the drop of a hat to be with me at this tragic time.
When I returned to the UK shortly after Paul's passing, my sister-in-law Caroline gave me a Strength Giving Key that she had received only a few months before when her mum passed away from cancer. I always thought it was so touching to pay-it-forward to me so soon after receiving it, when she was still grieving herself; thank you Caroline for giving that up - it meant so much.
When I got back to New Zealand, I draped it over the mirror right by my front door and every day when I walked out to reluctantly face the world - I looked at that key to give me strength.
My gorgeous friend Susie, from Australia, also came out to me at the drop of a hat at the time, and she has been a constant support for me over this last year. Most recently, she came over to be with me when we laid some of Paul's ashes to rest in one of his happy places on the anniversary of his passing.
That evening, I passed on the Strength Giving Key to her to pay-it-forward, as she is going through a difficult break up and has also had a tough year and has an even tougher one coming up. Yet, despite her own situation, she has more than been there for me and because of friends and family like these - I have found the strength I needed to slowly get through this tragedy. I now feel ready to pass that strength on, and Susie please know I will always be there for you too.
Big thank you to all my wonderful family and friends - I love you and could not have got through this year without you - rest in peace Paul, we will miss you always X