During the summer of 2017, I felt happy and contented. I had worked hard to finish my master’s degree and I was surrounded by wonderful friends and family.
I’d started a new relationship and had received a handful of interviews for exciting new job opportunities. I was on the brink of an adventure and I was looking forward to what the future would bring.
But then everything changed
Little did I know that my world was going to completely crumble from beneath me.
On August 26 2017, my younger brother took his own life. It was his 20th birthday.
My life went dark that day. I had never experienced such an inconsolable and immense loss that I actually felt physical pain. I had lost my only sibling, my best friend and the happy parents I once knew.
Dealing with grief
All that remained was a sea of confusion, devastation and unanswered questions.
For laughter followed my brother everywhere. He never failed to make others smile. He was accomplished, kind and loved by all.
I tried to make sense of it all and began to research male suicide and suicide bereavement. I was shocked to discover that 84 men a week die by suicide in the UK. It is the biggest killer of men under 45.
Then I discovered CALM
CALM is a charity that offers 24-hour support to men in the UK who are down or in crisis.
It is challenging the culture that prevents men from seeking help when they need it.
Additionally, they are pushing for policy and practice changes so that suicide is better prevented and provide essential support to those bereaved by suicide.
I felt compelled to support the charity. I wanted to help raise awareness so that men can speak out and get support when they need it most. So I started campaigning and fundraising, for both CALM and a local young adult bereavement charity, You Raise Me Up.
I ran a marathon, went sky diving and completed a Tough Mudder race.
I raised more than £10,000 for both charities in total and was lucky enough to win fundraiser of the year and attend the Pride of Britain Awards.
This year, I plan to complete a series of CALM challenges including Brighton Marathon, the London to Paris Bike Ride, Tough Mudder and the 24 Peak Challenge.
My advice on coping with grief
It’s okay to feel heavy and it’s okay to stop and catch your breath.
I have learned that life is not always fair and it never goes according to plan. If you feel you are not where you are supposed to be, please remember all the obstacles you fearlessly overcome to be the living, breathing person standing here now.
Try not to compare yourself and your progress to others.
Flowers do not compare themselves to other flowers, they simply bloom. You are enough, you are worthy and you are strong – please never forget that.
To find out more about CALM, visit: www.thecalmzone.net
For support from Samaritans, visit: www.samaritans.org/
You can learn more about the work of the charity You Raise Me Up, visit:
And to donate through Hannah’s charity page visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hannahrichardscalm