Season 3, Episode 5

Linzi Meaden / Stuart

Sibling Loss survivor and author, Linzi Meaden, shares What Suicide Left Behind

In this episode of The Broken Pack: Stories of Adult Sibling Loss, a podcast, Linzi shares her poignant journey of losing her brother, Stuart, to suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a surviving sibling, Linzi sheds light on the unique and often misunderstood grief that comes with sibling loss.

    • Linzi shares how writing in her journal led her to writing her book, What Suicide Left Behind: Navigating Your Own Grief Journey, to normalize grief from suicide loss and to help others feel less alone in their journeys.
    • Linzi’s work as a trauma therapist has given her insights into the unique challenges faced by suicide survivors.
    • Linzii has ensured that her children will know Uncle Stu and has found ways to honor him and her own continuing bond with him.

Additional key points:

  • Linzi’s sibling loss experiences, complicated by suicide loss and stigma, underscore the evolving nature of grief and the need for ongoing support.
  • Dr. Dean and Linzi also explore a common struggle sibling loss survivors have: the challenges and emotions associated with witnessing the aging of parents in the absence of a sibling who would typically share the responsibility of providing care and support.

Content Warning: Information presented in this episode may be upsetting to some people. It contains talk of suicide.

If you are in the US and would like support for yourself or someone else with substance use, suicidal thoughts, or other topics discussed in this episode, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or Text your 5-digit ZIP Code to 435748 (HELP4U) or call a warmline. For more immediate crisis call 911, 988, or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you believe you are witnessing an overdose, call 911 or your country’s emergency number immediately even if you are administering Narcan.

In the USA an updated directory of warmlines by state can be found at https://warmline.org/warmdir.html

A warmline directory for trained peer supports in over 20 countries can be found at https://www.supportiv.com/tools/international-resources-crisis-and-warmlines (some of these may be hotlines).

For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/

Other helpful, related resources in the UK:

  • Suicide & Co- https://www.suicideandco.org/ – provides counseling & support for persons in the UK as well as wealth of resources (podcasts, articles, links, etc) for anyone seeking support in their grief from suicide loss.
  • Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS): https://uksobs.org/

Sibling loss survivor Linzi with her brother Stuart
Transcript

Dr. Dean: 

Hello and welcome to the Broken Pack, a podcast focused on giving adult survivors of sibling loss, a platform to share their stories and to be heard. Something that many sibling loss survivors state that they never have had. Sibling Loss is Misunderstood™. The Broken Pack exists to change that and to support survivors. I’m your host, Dr. Angela Dean. Today’s episode features sibling loss survivor and author, Linzi. We spoke about losing Stuart unexpectedly to suicide and how she is coping now, as well as how she continues to share her brother with her children. Content warning. Information presented in this episode may be triggering to some people. It contains talk of suicide. Thank you for joining me today. I will let you introduce yourself to our listeners.

Linzi Meaden: 

Hi, my name is Linzi and I’m from the UK.

Dr. Dean: 

Before we get into the story of losing your brother, what do you want us to know about you?

Linzi Meaden: 

What do I want you to know about me? It’s my 50th birthday next year. and I’m a mum to six year old twins, one of each boy and girl. And, yeah. I’m now an only sibling, but I’m not an only sibling because my brother’s still around in spirit. but I don’t have any other living brothers or sisters.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for that. It’s always interesting to think about how we talk about our siblings now that they’re gone. And some people have very strong feelings about that. Stuart or Stu?

Linzi Meaden: 

I used to call him Stuart. occasionally Stew, but most of his friends knew him as Stew or Stewpot.

Dr. Dean: 

Stu

Linzi Meaden: 

you can call him whatever you wish.

Dr. Dean: 

All right. what was Stuart like?

Linzi Meaden: 

Oh, very tall. had the most beautiful eyes, dark, deep brown eyes. And when he had hair, his hair was deep dark and brown as well. And then over the years that started to recede and then yeah, he pretty much didn’t have much on top. When we were little, I always thought I was adopted because there’s me, very white, pale skinned, blue eyes, white hair. And I never thought we looked alike.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

but now I can see. some similarities, but it’s weird ever since sort of being a little girl, I just felt that we looked so different, but we’ve always had the closest bond.

Dr. Dean: 

mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

it’s even if we hadn’t seen each other for ages, we just had this bond where we just knew we were there in this world together looking out for each other. And yeah, he’s the biggest heart, the most. Kind hearted, warm hearted individual, always looking out for others, going out of his way to help others. such a good sense of humor, really did see the positive in everything. When somebody else is feeling down or in a bad place, he would be the one that would pick them up. Get them to see the positive, get them to just move into a better state of mind. He was amazing with people. Had such a good way of communicating and compassion and empathizing with others. Particularly good with, the elderly as well. For some reason the elderly warmed to him a lot. They had a lot of trust in him and he loved to hear about their stories from when they were younger.

Dr. Dean: 

mm-Hmm. He would spend a lot

Linzi Meaden: 

of time listening to them and I think they really appreciated that. yeah, absolutely my hero, just best brother in the world. mm

Dr. Dean: 

hmm Sounds like he made you feel heard, just like he made the elderly feel heard. Yeah. What was the age difference?

Linzi Meaden: 

Only two years, and our birthdays are side by side, so my birthday is the 28th of April and Stuart’s birthday is the 29th of April. I was the birthday present for him on his second birthday. Mom and dad, here you go. There’s your little sister. Happy birthday. and I’ve got the most gorgeous photographs of us, as me, just newborn and little Stu with his little baby sister. But he really did take on that responsibility, that role of being the big brother.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm-Hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah, he used to call me, pea head. Because when I was little, I had such white hair and a little round head. And for some reason he thought I looked like a pea. he called me P head. So I said, in that case, you’re King Pea. Because you’re. my brother and you’re older than me. So it’s just one of those silly funny things that we always used to say. And yeah, he was very protective of me. and I love that. I love that. That’s how a big brother should be.

Dr. Dean: 

mm hmm Did those nicknames stick through adulthood as well? Um,

Linzi Meaden: 

Years ago, he got me a birthday card with lots of little peas on. Yeah. But yeah, his humor, just love his humor and cheekiness.

Dr. Dean: 

What do you want to share about losing Stuart?

Linzi Meaden: 

I think losing him is the most devastating feeling in the world to think. I can remember going back to receiving that phone call and I just, I couldn’t get my head around where he was because for 46 years of my life. He’s always been here.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

couldn’t physically see him, I knew he was somewhere an hour down the road, or if he was traveling overseas on a holiday, I knew he was still here on Earth. He was physically here, and I could message him, or I could call him, or I could text him. But when I heard the news, I just could not get my head around him not being here. And I remember looking up to the sky. And thinking, where are you then? Where have you gone?

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

And I spent so many evenings in those early days looking up, trying to find him and wondering where he was and the world shifted, the world completely changed. And it hasn’t been the same since. It’s really difficult to put into words how his loss feels. As I’m sure you know.

Dr. Dean: 

Yes, unfortunately. So I know that you wrote your story in the book. What do you want to say about the book? And then we’ll go from there.

Linzi Meaden: 

So my book that I wrote, it started off with me just writing how I was feeling

Dr. Dean: 

mm

Linzi Meaden: 

hmm in those first four or five months. I find writing is so cathartic. It really helped me to express what was going on in my head and in my heart. And I felt that it was my heart was just pouring out. onto the pages, or as I was typing, it was really coming from somewhere deep within. And as I continued writing, I then felt that I was talking to others, that I was then relating and connecting to others and sharing how I was feeling. I felt that others could read this and feel the connection too, and it would relate to how they’re feeling and it would help to normalize. their grief journey. mm hmm So it ended up becoming a book. And when I think back now, I don’t know how I did it. But mm hmm in those early days, we’re running on adrenaline. We are, living the effects of shock and trauma. And that’s what kept me going. That’s how I was able to keep going with my writing. If I think about doing it now, and I am writing my second book, and I think this is why I’m delayed in publishing it, is because I get that other voice coming to me now saying, Oh, you can’t write that. You can’t say this. Oh, does that sound right? Whereas before, when I wrote my first book, What’s Suicide Left Behind, everything just flowed from the heart. And mm hmm I said it how I felt it. And I didn’t. judge myself or critique myself. I just went with it and it felt right. So I really want to get back into that with my second book because as time has gone by, because we’re now three years since my brother passed, I’m now more aware of other people’s opinions and thoughts about suicide and loss and grief and I’ve become a little bit more guarded as to what I say whereas before I just said it how it was.

Dr. Dean: 

It does read very much like it is a personal, journal, and so it does draw you in and I did feel connected to your story and to you as I was reading it. Because you’ve written it and I know many of our listeners probably have not read it because one of the things that is hard to find are books on sibling loss. Thank you for writing it. I’m wondering if you want to share a little bit more about what happened?

Linzi Meaden: 

Sure, so going back to the pandemic and The last time I saw my brother in person was actually at Christmas time. So Christmas before 2020, and then the pandemic hit in March, and so we were texting and FaceTiming, lots, and yeah, we got to June, and I had a phone call from my brother’s partner, and she said, Have you heard from your brother? And as soon as she said those words, I just felt something was deeply wrong because it was just the weirdest phone call. And we spoke for about an hour and came to the conclusion that we needed to contact the police because he’d actually been missing since the morning before.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm,

Linzi Meaden: 

called me the following evening and. So he became a missing persons, which I still can’t get my head round. and yeah, we had the police search team, search and rescue helicopters trying to search for him. and two days later I had a phone call from the police to say his car had been found at the side of the forest, Ashdown Forest. Which if you know the story of Winnie the Pooh,

Dr. Dean: 

mm hm,

Linzi Meaden: 

the connection with Ashdown Forest, and they said, does he have any connections to here? And I said, not really, no, it’s about 20 minutes from my home. And I asked if I could go and search for him and they said, no, not at the moment, but I felt completely helpless. I needed to get out and find my brother because this was just so out of the blue, out of the ordinary. it was the next day the following evening at 6. 40pm, and I can remember every single detail, the weather outside, what I was doing, what I was wearing, and I received that phone call. And as soon as the police officer said to me, are you at home? Is somebody with you? I knew he was about to deliver something that I didn’t want to hear. He said those words that, I’m so sorry we have found your brother. And I’m afraid he’s, I won’t mention how, but they described how he had passed and I can just remember saying no, screaming no down the phone and running down the stairs to my husband who was in the garden, handing the phone over to him. And, yeah. That was the pivotal moment in life where everything changed. I changed, my world changed, and my immediate concern was for our parents. um hmm They are in their 80s, they live about an hour’s drive from me, and my immediate concern was they cannot be told by a police officer turning up at their front door to say they’re first born, their son. who they had the most, especially Mum had such a close relationship with, I just couldn’t let them be in that position. So I told my husband to just jump in the car, get down there first and be with them, uh hmm which he did. and I got him to stay overnight with them as well because I felt they couldn’t be on their own.

Dr. Dean: 

hm.

Linzi Meaden: 

And so I left myself alone in the house with my three year old twins. They were three at the time, which they were a distraction in a way. Because I still had to be mummy and focus on them and making sure they got off to bed. but I then I felt afraid to be alone in the house overnight. So even though we were. In the pandemic, and there was the lockdowns, the restrictions. I called a friend and asked her to come over and be with me because I just was scared felt alone, and she did. And I don’t care what all the regulations were with the pandemic, I needed somebody to, to come into the house and be with me. And it was very strange to think that’s three years ago now. And. And yet it still feels like only a few months ago.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

That’s the thing, I think, with trauma and shock and grief, it’s such a process, it’s such a journey, and we don’t just get up and move on. It’s with us forever, and it’s learning how we navigate our way through this so that we do continue living, but we’re living very much in a different place now.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah, what month was that?

Linzi Meaden: 

June. June 2020.

Dr. Dean: 

the pandemic restrictions, and I think your restrictions were probably stricter than ours here, I recall. it’s curious, and I know part of this is because of my own story. My brother passed in the pandemic as well, and their grief does have a strange timeline. This is just more of a ponderance. I wonder how much not being able to have that connection in person with people influenced our grief timelines, and I guess there’s ways to study that, but right now we don’t know. I wonder if you felt that grieving in isolation was hard.

Linzi Meaden: 

yeah, I think that’s probably why I have grieved openly online, that was my way of speaking to the world. It’s almost like I wanted to voice how this felt, I felt this wasn’t something I could do in private or keep hidden away or, because so often you hear of families when they’ve lost a loved one respect their privacy and they want to not be disturbed or, and I was the complete opposite. And I understand everyone, everybody deals with grief differently. I totally get that. For me personally, I felt I needed to let people know just how devastating this is and that it’s not just happening to one or two people. This is happening to a lot of people. This is, in itself, a pandemic where suicide loss is happening too often to too many people and all different ages. We’re talking, very young children as well. It’s devastating. I think. I felt that my brother, throughout his life, bottled up things too much. The message I feel that he left me was, Sister, don’t bottle anything up. Do not bottle anything up. And so, I took that message and that is why I’ve openly shared my grief journey online. To help. others, to let them feel that it’s okay for them to express how they feel, to use their voice if they wish to, and that what they’re going through, other people are going through it as well. It’s finding your community, finding people who you can relate to, and it’s so powerful to connect with others. You’re on a very similar journey to just have that support and that understanding. And it makes such a huge difference because feeling so alone in the pandemic, I could have just retreated within, closed the doors, closed the curtain. And I feel that I could have ended up in a very bad place as well. So I did the complete opposite and just opened up everything and shared. yeah, I look back now and think. How did I do that? And that’s the thing, we’re doing it because we’re in so much shock, the adrenaline and the cortisol. we’re doing it survival for ourselves. And yeah, the world was a very unusual place during the pandemic. and I think now we’re still very much dealing with the effects, the after effects, and I’ve quieted down my grief journey online because. Like I said earlier with the book and with my writing, I feel my judging voice is now coming in and critiquing me and saying, perhaps you shouldn’t do that. And I feel I need to quieten that down again and start being more open and sharing again. I’ve just gone through a quiet reflection stage. I think,

Dr. Dean: 

So you said that the one thing that you learned from your brother was to not do that, to not bottle things up. Were you like that before his death?

Linzi Meaden: 

and I think it actually is. Our entire family and my parents are from that generation where, stiff up a lip and be British and keep calm and carry on, put on a happy face. And yeah, we’re, we are all guilty of bottling things up and not sharing. So I broke the mold and started to share and it’s actually, it’s very freeing. And. It allows you to offload so much. And I think what my brother, yeah, how much he must have bottled up and kept inside and particularly for men, they are told, man up, get on with it and they can’t show their emotions. And that’s something I’m so passionate about now is saying and helping the men in our world, in our communities, that it’s okay for them to speak up. It’s okay for them to cry. It’s okay for them to share. And I really do mean that because I know we see so many memos online and where it’s all about, it’s okay to share. It’s okay to talk. Sometimes it’s just words, but I come from a place where I actively want to make sure that men do feel that they can have their say and ask for help because my brother would never ask for help. Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

I often, when men come into the office, that’s the first thing that they’re thankful that everything here is confidential, but then they’re also concerned about is are they normal? Because they’re having emotions. So I think that is a, an important message that we can help with. The various gender norms that exist. your parents are still living. Yes.

Linzi Meaden: 

They are, yes.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. How has this? Oh, awesome. How has this affected your relationship with them?

Linzi Meaden: 

It’s brought us closer together. prior to Stuart passing, we were never a huggy family. We never hugged one another, or we were just, again, terribly British, and very formal sometimes, almost too much. And, but now, it’s, yeah, it’s definitely brought us closer, and we’ve always been a very close, little family of mum, dad, me and Stuart. That little, little family unit is so special, and we definitely had that bond, that connection, that, that unit, that was us. And, everything we’ve been through together, the good times, the not so good times, that we had more good times than not good times. but we were always, always there for one another. And I think now you can see the loss of how it’s absolutely devastated their world. And I think I am so blessed that I’ve got the twins to help them this, because having grandchildren for them is such a blessing. Stuart unfortunately never had children so it’s his, his line has stopped. there’s now no more of Stuart in that respect, but I do feel that there is some similarities with my children, his niece and nephew, that they’re able to carry on. some characteristics of Stu and they keep him alive. They very much, they speak about him every day. He’s very much part of our life and that helps mum and dad so much.

Dr. Dean: 

they remember him?

Linzi Meaden: 

yeah, kind of, so they were three and a half at the time. Obviously they’ve got photographs and videos.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

They haven’t got many. But, and I, this is the one wish, I wish I had have taken more videos and photos, but I’m just so grateful for the ones that I do have. My little girl said the other day, she said, sort of remember him, but I can’t remember his voice, so I would play a video so they can hear the voice, his voice, but I think they’re more, think of him now more the teddy bear, weirdly, because Stu Bear, Uncle Stu Bear is, Being such a key part of their life from July 2020, when we got him, that he was there for their first day at school and whenever they’ve gone to different appointments, doctors, dentists, Stu Bear always goes with them when they go to see their friends, Stu Bear always goes with them. when we go on the train, in the car journeys, at nighttime, my little girl always hugs him. actually, got a different, I don’t know, memory, but there’s a relationship with

Dr. Dean: 

hmm. And for our listeners that can’t see the bear behind you, do you want to describe Stew Bear?

Linzi Meaden: 

we had him specially made, one for me, one for mum and one for each of the twins. And he’s made up of my brother’s favorite shirts. And the shirt, the one that you can see in the background, that’s the shirt that he was wearing when we, when he was a missing persons. We had to give the police a photograph and he was wearing that shirt. it was a photo that was taken about two months before he died. It’s checkered, it’s blue, white and black checkered, and then there’s another pale blue shirt for the tummy area. there’s a blue heart, which is made from his jeans, his denim jeans. And then his ears are made from his stripy socks. They’re beautiful colors, and they’re odd socks. He always used to love wearing odd socks, which my little boy actually carries on that tradition. He

Dr. Dean: 

it easier on laundry day. There’s little pockets in the back so I can

Linzi Meaden: 

pop little notes in. As well, which is really sweet. And then on his paws, he’s got just embroidered stew. And I might add to that, I think now I would quite like to put a little message or something on the other paw. So I’ll get, the lady who made them just a sew, something else on there. But each of those stew bears, they’re all very unique, all different and my little girls one is, it’s coming away at the seams. He’s got the white shirt in the middle and that’s getting quite grubby. And I, I have actually had to put him in the washing machine. I did feel a bit bad thinking I’m putting my brother in the washing machine, but it was quite a funny moment. And he came out beautifully clean and sparkly, and I’m sure, I can just imagine Stuart absolutely laughing his socks off. and we also got some little hearts made for his friends as well, so they could put those in their cars or at home on the Christmas tree. Just some little fabric hearts again made from some of his shirts. doing things like that has really helped. It really does make a difference.

Dr. Dean: 

sounds like that’s a great way for you to stay connected to him, but also for him to have a presence in your kids lives that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. Yeah.

Linzi Meaden: 

So important. he’s their only uncle. it’s so important that we keep him very much alive. And as a guardian, an angel or whatever you want to call him, just because he’s physically not here. He’s still very much around in spirit and in our minds and in our hearts. And he’s spoken about so much and they look up to him. They absolutely love him. And. It’s such a blessing.

Dr. Dean: 

So I have to ask you about something you said, because I don’t want to make assumptions. You said that your family was very British, and I think here there’s an assumption of what that means, but I wanted to clarify what you meant by that.

Linzi Meaden: 

Well, we’re pretty sure, it’s not all of us, but, yeah, we’re quite reserved people. we. have to do things in a certain way and, we don’t share, we don’t always wear our heart on our sleeve or we’re always very polite and thinking of the other person and, yeah, putting a smile on our face and keeping calm and carrying on no matter what happens. And I think, That’s how I sum up being British,

Dr. Dean: 

okay. I think given that we were just talking about the stew bear and I can see the heart, made out of his clothes, it’s almost like an intentional way for you to start sharing your emotions, wearing your heart on your sleeve a little bit more, if you will, because It’s all disclosed.

Linzi Meaden: 

yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. It feels like a children’s book in there somewhere. thank you for clarifying that. That’s what I thought you meant, but I wanted to ask, it sounds like you had initial support from your friend who quite lovely was able to engage and decide, yes, that you and supporting you was more important than the restrictions. Where else did you find support in those early days?

Linzi Meaden: 

I was very fortunate in that, I have a lot of friendship groups when I was pregnant with the twins, I connected with six other pregnant mums and we’ve kept that group going. So even though we couldn’t see each other during the pandemic, we were very much keeping in touch online. So they were one of the first that I messaged and their support, just messaging was incredible. In fact, one of the mums the very next day drove around with some food ready made. She’d made a lovely dish so I didn’t have to cook, and some cake and another friend from that group brought around a bag of toys for the children to play with to keep them distracted. and that absolutely blew me away. the kindness to do that and for them to break some of the rules of the restrictions to come and do that was incredible. I, did get a lot of messages online, almost overwhelming,

Dr. Dean: 

Mm-Hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

lots and lots. And I connected with a couple of my brother’s friends who I didn’t really know, his best friends, and we were speaking a lot on the telephone and messaging. obviously my brother’s partner as well, I was very concerned for her. so we were connecting a lot, but again, it was all very much on the phone or through text. And I think that’s when I went online to find out what do I do next? what support is there? And I didn’t really find a lot.

Dr. Dean: 

Right? Mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

I got completely overwhelmed, completely lost, and I found it quite stressful because there just wasn’t an instant place to go to. There wasn’t, I just had no idea. And the police didn’t give us any support. They pretty much left, gave us the news and that was it.

Dr. Dean: 

mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

And we were then expected to navigate. where we go from here. So yeah, searching online, there are a few places, but for some reason I didn’t like what they’d written or how it came across. It just didn’t sit right with how I was feeling. And so I ended up creating my own community.

Dr. Dean: 

mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

up just connecting with others who have been through the same journey, the same sort of time

Dr. Dean: 

mm-Hmm

Linzi Meaden: 

And just brought people together. I found that bringing people together gave me something positive to do. And I really wanted to do something positive and helpful and to feel like I was doing something good. because on the other side of that, I was the one dealing with my brother’s, affairs and financial affairs and, dealing with the funeral, which in itself was. awful that we could only invite 20 people,

Dr. Dean: 

Oh, wow.

Linzi Meaden: 

but there were hundreds that wanted to come and say their farewells. and even dealing with, arranging the funeral director. I didn’t have a clue how to do that. I was completely lost. and I wasn’t aware that I could have gone to see my brother. But I’d left it too late and then the funeral director said it’s really not appropriate for you to see him now. So I had to see him in a closed casket. which I can understand. I think that was probably for the best, but at the time I was so confused. I just desperately wanted to see him because I didn’t believe he was in there. so I ended up spending a lot of time connecting with others and then listening to how others are feeling and what they needed and what was missing and a lot of the problems they were going through of finding the, there wasn’t the help. and I needed, I felt I needed some release because day in day out I was talking suicide loss, grief, and it was getting quite heavy.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm-Hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

I created an online choir where we just came together once a week just to have half an hour of escapism to sing, to just express ourself through singing. And I, we found that, I think we did that for about six months. It’s a little bit tricky doing it online because obviously with Zoom and feedback and stuff, but it was so nice to be amongst a community with people going through the same thing, but we were able to just, find a way to express ourselves. And that was so powerful.

Dr. Dean: 

Was it a choir for. people that were also grieving?

Linzi Meaden: 

it was lit. It was just purely just bringing others who had lost loved ones to suicide.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm.

Linzi Meaden: 

And we would, say the name of our loved ones. We would talk about them and then we would sing a few songs and just have that time to just switch off. From the trauma from the devastation and real life and have half an hour away from it. And it’s really helpful. And then I also did online craft workshops as well with a friend who is an artist, just to help people again, be creative, do something practical and to get them focused on doing something else for half an hour or an hour to just escape real life and have some time to just switch off. And again, that was so therapeutic.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

and then I did, a room on Clubhouse. Have you heard of Clubhouse?

Dr. Dean: 

have, yeah.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah, called Life After Suicide Loss. And that was again once a week and we’d all come together and we would speak and share our stories. Share any sort of advice or anything. Anyone was going through, we would just talk. We would just simply talk. and we find, again, we found that, I think I did that for about 18 months.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm.

Linzi Meaden: 

Again, that was really effective and it brought people together. And a lot of people have said how much that’s helped them, knowing that there’s somewhere as an outlet where they’re amongst those who understand. And again, it’s all about not bottling up and about using your voice and sharing and expressing emotions. So, But then I got to the point where I felt, okay, I’m overdoing it again. I’m doing too much. so I stopped doing the. the clubhouse

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

and now I do occasional podcasts. but it’s, as I said, I’ve now, the last sort of six months, I’ve gone through a very quiet period of reflecting and I know it’s all part of the journey.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. I hear that you’re a busy mom. Do you also work outside of the home?

Linzi Meaden: 

I work, yeah, I’m actually a trauma therapist.

Dr. Dean: 

Oh, okay.

Linzi Meaden: 

Which is, again, the amount of guilt that I felt at the start to think my brother, or both my husband and I, we run our own trauma therapy clinic and to think that Stuart couldn’t even come to one of us. a help. And we, both Chris and I, have helped so many people who have attempted suicide or having suicidal thoughts. We have, helped them through that and yet couldn’t help my brother.

Dr. Dean: 

Well, it’s so much harder to be objective with our own family members. and I think sometimes people don’t understand that about us as therapists or psychologists is that there, there are limits, right? We’re human too and have relationships.

Linzi Meaden: 

exactly, yeah. I think people look at therapists of Everything in your life must be perfect. You know, it’s all positive, it’s all good and it’s all roses and there’s nothing wrong at all. And I think that’s the other thing, me being very open online and going through such a complex and complicated grief journey. And even though I am a therapist myself, it’s, this is real life, this is real.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm, mm

Linzi Meaden: 

I’m being authentically me and this is how it is and I think that’s the message I’m getting across is like we are human.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm. And it sounds like it became too much, I’m guessing, between you processing your own grief and trauma and still working, that you did need these quiet times to reflect and move forward.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah. I’m learning every week, every month, there’s even now three years on, there’s different waves of the emotions, there’s different things that come up. I’m also going through, the twins. So I was 46 and I’m now 49

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

and not only navigating such a devastating loss with Stuart perimenopausal as well. So dealing with all the symptoms of going through the perimenopause and managing a chronic illness, I’ve got Crohn’s disease

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

Being a mum to, to twins, an older mum at that, and trying to work and keep everything together. And it’s been very exhausting, very draining and a huge journey to work my way around. and I think it’s only now that I’m realizing, wow, just how far I’ve come. What I’ve achieved and now where I’m going and it’s, I can’t almost sometimes believe that I’ve done all that I’ve done. It sounds so much, but I know that Stuart is behind all of this. He’s giving me that encouragement, support.

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

he’s still very much here looking over me, protecting me. guiding me. and I really do believe that. And I think that’s the key to keeping going and very much living life to the full because I’m living life not only for me, for my children, for my family, but for him as well. And I’m determined to make sure it’s a really good life.

Dr. Dean: 

How would you say you’re doing with that?

Linzi Meaden: 

Good, I hope.

Dr. Dean: 

Good.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah, I think there’s good days and there’s not so good days. And. Yep, there’s obstacles and challenges that come my way and Some days I can deal with them and some days I can’t and if I want to have a good cry I will have a good cry. I’ve just recently joined a drama group

Dr. Dean: 

Mm.

Linzi Meaden: 

and that is so powerful again creativity being able

Dr. Dean: 

Mm hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

drama is Yeah Something I’m definitely going to continue with because that’s helping me so much I’ve not done any counseling for myself. I know counseling helps a lot of other people, but for me, just didn’t feel right. And it still doesn’t feel like for me, that’s not for me for my grief journey. I find doing things like this, podcasts, writing, talking, online. and creative, active things such as drama. I do, I go to dance classes, or even just being outdoors with nature. I’ve learned that gardening is very therapeutic. I was never much into gardening. My brother absolutely loved it and now I can see why.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

it’s almost like I’m exploring the world and finding different ways to move forward. And for me, that’s much more helpful. Then going to a weekly sort of counselling,

Dr. Dean: 

It sounds like you’re doing a lot of the things that we encourage patients and clients to do, right? To get out there and find connection with the loved one, but also how to connect to life and living. And it sounds like you’re doing that. it’s interesting that you as a therapist, Wouldn’t go to counseling, but,

Linzi Meaden: 

But then I don’t do, I don’t do counseling as my therapy. I do a different type of, trauma work where I’m doing psychosensory therapies. That’s very much using the senses. So I’m doing touch therapy, hypnosis, some NLP. So it’s very much working with the subconscious mind, and doing that. and that’s, there’s a technique that. It’s helped me a lot. The havening techniques. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the havening techniques. It comes from America, Dr. Ronald Rudin in New York. and for me that helped me so much with the flashbacks because even though didn’t see how my brother passed, it was described to me by the police and I then created in my mind. how he must have looked, everything he went through. I had so many images and then once I’d thought of those, I then wasn’t able to remove them. They were playing out over and over again and other stuff. And so I used the Havening techniques to clear that, which is so powerful because it does, it removes those images, but it removes the emotions as well. And that has been so effective. and I know. I still have a lot of people in my community who are still suffering so badly with PTSD, and the effects, and it’s just heartbreaking that they feel that, the help isn’t there for them. it’s devastating. I really feel for them and wish that they could find ways to help them.

Dr. Dean: 

Yeah. Ellie from our last season explained to me that, how counseling works there in the UK and how different it is than what I would have expected given the national healthcare system you have. so even though. You’ve chosen not to pursue it in that way. it sounds like access to care is difficult.

Linzi Meaden: 

Oh, it is. there’s more and more charities now starting up and offering support. There’s, I’m an ambassador for a charity called Suicide and Co and they are offering free, I think it’s 12 sessions of counseling in the UK. It used to be you had to wait six months before you could access it. Not the first six months of your loss, but now they’re opening up the resources. So it’s immediate. you’ve got the support there, but I know there’s a list that they are,

Dr. Dean: 

What’s

Linzi Meaden: 

some Suicide and Co. Brilliant. Yeah,

Dr. Dean: 

to access it.

Linzi Meaden: 

they are doing a lot of work. They’re creating an app as well to provide resources. exercises and techniques, helping with sleep and anxiety. and again, putting links to podcasts on there, book reviews as well. So that all the resources are in one place and you can access your free counselling. And it’s so much needed.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

What they’re hoping to achieve is to be what I needed at the time. The one stop shop to go to. That everybody knows the name so that there is that support there and they can help you navigate what you need to do. There’s another charity called SOBS, which is Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide. They’re called SOBS but again,

Dr. Dean: 

I’ll look that up and add that to the show notes, too.

Linzi Meaden: 

S O B S, yeah, SOBS, and again, they’re a charity. They’ve been around for a lot longer and they do amazing work as well, but they’re very much peer to peer support.

Dr. Dean: 

Mm

Linzi Meaden: 

It’s all about community. So it’s not counselling. It’s very much you connect with others and you meet up once a month or online or in person and you share that way. So again, they are very much, needed and, they both need lots of funding, Suicide Co is quite new, so it wasn’t around when I lost Stuart. I think they set up in 2021. but I’m finding actually, the more I go online now, there’s more and more charities coming through and, or fund, Trusts and foundations and people setting up in their loved ones names and offering different types of resources and support. but I still feel that it needs to just be somehow grouped together in 1 place. Because it can be so overwhelming and confusing,

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

especially in those early days where you just want somebody to say, Do this that bit. I’ll help you with that bit. This is what you need to do. Rather than you trying to work out, what does this mean?

Dr. Dean: 

Right.

Linzi Meaden: 

Who do I turn to? I can’t understand it. And then you, I can remember being in tears so much because I didn’t understand some of the things I was reading and working out. What does this mean? How do I do this? And that just adds to the stress and the trauma, doesn’t

Dr. Dean: 

Right. And it also distracts you from the grieving process,

Linzi Meaden: 

Yes. Which I found, again, I think the first year was very much spent in trauma land, and I’m only really just the last year starting to grieve, which people outside of the suicide loss community can’t really understand. They think you lose your loved one. And that’s when the grieving process starts. And then a lot of people think right after a year you’re done. It’s not like that at all. It’s absolutely not

Dr. Dean: 

Three days of a funeral and you should be fine. Just go back to, yeah,

Linzi Meaden: 

it’s, grief for me, grief is forever.

Dr. Dean: 

exactly.

Linzi Meaden: 

and having to deal with the complexities of all the other emotions and the wise and the unanswered questions. And it’s so complicated and it’s heavy. And. There definitely needs to be more support.

Dr. Dean: 

I would agree with that from both the, bereaved, by suicide, but also sibling loss. And then you add those things together and you’ve got this double whammy of disenfranchisement.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

I’ve lost people to suicide, but not my sibling. was there anything else you wanted to share about either sibling loss or suicide loss? Mm hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

I think, losing my brother, with sibling loss, we do find ourselves in this little bubble, this group that only we can relate to. Especially because he’s my only sibling. It does feel very isolating because as I said, he’s my older brother. he is my older brother. he’s always been there and now that he’s around in spirit, I do feel alone. I do feel. Abandoned, I guess is the word. But I know that, that wasn’t his fault. I feel so deeply sad that’s how his life ended. I just felt so much sadness for him and how he must have been feeling. And I love him so much. And I know that, I know that he’s around. I know he’s listening to this. chat right now. And he knows I love him and I know he’s okay. He’s safe. And I just, I promise, my promise to him is that I will ensure that his niece and nephew have the best life ever. And that I’ll look after mom and dad for him. when I’m at the school gates waiting to pick up the children or out and about with friends and they’re talking about their brother or sister and, you a little piece of my heart just feels a little pull on it. Just thinking, gosh, but I’m, in some ways I’m pleased that they have their siblings. I’m pleased that they have their brother or sister or they’ve still got that physical connection and relationship. And I’m, I just know that I still got the bond with my brother. And I’m so blessed that he is my brother. so yeah, I just think sibling losses is something that’s not really understood by enough people. And I think when you can connect with others who are going through the same experience, it does help.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you. I would agree with everything you said. Can we talk a little bit about what it’s like to see your parents? Aging, knowing that your sibling isn’t physically here to help with those tasks.

Linzi Meaden: 

Yes. it’s He was, he lived closer to them than I do. And he was very much the one that would be over there whenever they needed anything. he would see them every week, check they’re okay. Helping out with household chores or anything that needed repairing, he would be the one to do it. And knowing that I can’t do that as easy because I’m further away. But also I have the restrictions with my young children. I can’t just. and knowing that they are, aging, they’re in their late 80s, there’s going to come a time when one of them will pass. and to think that I’m dealing with that on my own as the child, and it should have been Stuart and I doing that together. supporting one another and dealing with all the things involved. I don’t think too much about that. I’m focusing on the now and the present with them and making sure that they see me being okay. The last thing I want is for them to worry about me. I really do want them to see me. Being happy, obviously, how can I be happy when I’ve lost my brother,

Dr. Dean: 

As happy as you can be.

Linzi Meaden: 

exactly. And ensuring that they see the twins as much as possible, their grandchildren. And I know that Stuart will find a way for when that time comes, when our parents do pass, that he will find a way. to help me through that. But I think in some ways though, knowing that he’s gone on ahead of them, it will help me to deal with their loss. So I know that they’re not alone when they pass over, that he’s there and they are reunited again. So in a way that, that’s beautiful and they, they are reunited and they are together. And then it kind of then makes me feel even more abandoned and alone because They’re together and then suddenly I’m on my own, but I’m not because obviously I’ve got my own family, my children, my husband. So it’s just processing that in my head and I think Our bond, our little family unit, is always together. No matter where we are, whether we are physically here or in spirit, we’re always connected and our bond will never be broken.

Dr. Dean: 

Thank you for putting words to all of that, because I think it is a confusing thing to try to explain to people, because I’m in a similar situation. My parents are, they’re late 70s, and my brother was the only other sibling as well, and so it is this like weird, there’s some relief in knowing that they’ll reconnect, but your family of origin is now broken, and

Linzi Meaden: 

Yeah.

Dr. Dean: 

you’ll be the last one standing. likely, right? We don’t know, but yeah. and it’s not to say that our families now don’t mean as much. Of course, that’s not true. It’s just, it’s a hard place to navigate. Yeah. So thank you for putting words to that. before we wrap up, I was wondering if you wanted to share any favorite memories of you and Stuart or of him. You can share as many Hmm. Hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

I think, I have a lot of childhood memories that I absolutely I can remember our childhood home we had a lovely house with a stream running through the garden and we spent so much time in that stream, just walking barefoot and jumping across from side to side, and that, that’s really beautiful. in fact, where. Where Stuart passed, he was very close to a little stream, and in some ways, I feel that he found that place because there was a little stream there, because it reminded him of our childhood. Which again, was a way of him saying, our childhood was the best childhood ever. And it was like, it was just a little message, I get something from that. but I think one of my most favourite memories was in 2016, just after the twins were born. And my little girl was about a month and a half, and It was coming up to Christmas, and I took them round to our parents house, and Stuart was there, and he held my little girl in his arms, and he looked down at her, and she looked up, and she had the most beautiful smile on her face, and it was the first time she smiled, and I’ve captured that moment on camera, and it was the first time she smiled, and you can see the way they look at each other, She’s just looking up at him in awe of, that’s my Uncle Stu. And that bond has continued all the way through. And I think that’s why she’s so close to her Uncle Stu Bear. there’s definitely a connection there between them. In fact, with both of the twins, because even when I had to sit them down and explain that Uncle Stu had passed, they knew, they told me stuff, which has blown my mind and they come out with some things and he continues through them and I think that’s so powerful. And yeah, I’ve, I have such wonderful memories as you can see, it just puts such a big smile on my face

Dr. Dean: 

hmm.

Linzi Meaden: 

yeah, the bestest brother in the world.

Dr. Dean: 

Fantastic. thank you for sharing all of this and talking to me today, and I look forward to staying in touch.

Linzi Meaden: 

Thank you so much.

Dr. Dean: 

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for listening. Our theme song was written by Joe Mylwood and Brian Dean, and was performed by Joe Mylwood. If you would like more information on the Broken Pack, go to our website, the broken pack.com. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, Wild Grief, to learn about opportunities and receive exclusive information and grieving tips for subscribers. Information on that, our social media and on our guests can be found in the show notes wherever you get your podcasts. Please follow, subscribe, and share. Thanks again.

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