My wife Margaret’s death from suicide was completely unexpected, but you have to keep going and get on with life. Walking with the Ramblers has helped me to do that.
The great thing about walking with a Ramblers group is that you know where you’re going, you know you’re not going to get lost. You don’t have to think or plan anything, and there are people there to talk to.
Walking is good both mentally and physically.
Being out in the greenery and fresh air makes a difference and all the physical exercise tires you out, which means you don’t have to think too much.
You can walk every day if you like - there’s always something in the diary - which has been a real help over the past year. I don’t always go with the intention of talking about Margaret, but sometimes it crops up.
Speaking about Margaret with others has meant more people have shared their own experiences.
I went on a Ramblers walk recently and spoke to a friend who had a similar experience with their grandson who had tried to kill himself and then managed to turn his life around. Both of us being able to talk to each other really helped.
There is still a lot of stigma about suicide and mental health.
People say you ‘commit suicide’, but it isn’t a crime. Margaret died from suicide and that is just life. I’m always open about how she died, if it feels like the right time to mention it.
Of thirty people in a Ramblers group about to go on a walk, someone will have an experience related to mental health problems because there are a lot of unhappy people out there.
It’s nice that you can just walk, having other people there is good, even if you just walk along in companionable silence. You get a sense of when someone wants to talk and share, and you can choose to talk with different people during the walk.
I would recommend more people start opening up with others because it eases the pain.
If we all shared more about how we’re feeling, everyone would be a lot happier.
David is a member of the Pocklington Ramblers. You can start walking with a local Ramblers group in your area. Find a walk near you.