Borehamwood & Elstree United Synagogue Annual New Year Magazine - September 2022
In May 2018, my son Oliver took his own life.
He was obviously in a very bad place, and his passing left a hole in my life and the lives of everyone around us.
But I feel that, although he’s not here anymore, he hasn’t gone away. I converted his bedroom into my office, and it’s remained Oli’s place. His stuff is all over the walls and shelves, and I feel him here in our home.
He also lives on in the Oli Leigh Trust, set up in his name to help charities and people to feel better and prevent suicide. We deliver help to universities and schools to aid people with mental wellbeing and support, and our whole mission and reason for being is Oli.
Talking is vital. Whether you’re a person affected by suicide or someone struggling with their mental health, you only have one life and it’s the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.
Everyone needs space sometimes. I often need time to hibernate, as I call it, and be alone with my feelings, but I know that my friends and family are there to make me feel supported and loved. That’s the most important thing.
Grief is complicated. You’re allowed to cry and you’re allowed to laugh – I sometimes can’t believe that I can laugh after some of the nights of the Shiva we sat through. But I’m here, and you’re here, and we still have the memories to remember and live through.
We don’t always need words, people don’t always have the right words, but they can help. Sometimes we just need to know that we’re loved and looked after. That can help too.
Recently, my oldest son was trying on a dinner suit to attend a wedding. He pointed to me and said ‘Mum, you’ve got something in your hair.’ It was a feather. For me, that was Oli. Whenever I see a feather I know that he’s still here with us.
The Oli Leigh Trust was thrilled to have an advert and editorial about our charity included in The Jewish Chronicle Charity Supplement in February 2021. This is great exposure for the work the Trust is doing.