“How can I live with this? Well, imagine climbing a mountain while you’re carrying heavy weights. When you start climbing, you need to stop every few seconds because they’re so heavy. But, over time, your muscles develop and, in the end, you find you can carry them and keep climbing. The weight never gets any lighter. You just carry it better.”
‘Loss’ truly is such a heavy word. Think about it and your whole body will feel laden down by everything it represents. Hearing Jenny Rayner talk about her sense of loss as a weight, one that she carries every single day, you begin to feel that heaviness in your own body. You know how it begins too – a sharp overwhelming pain that slows to an exhausting, constant and relentless load. And, as Jenny says, it never leaves you, but becomes part of your life. When you learn the burden of her loss and what it has driven her to achieve, you begin to understand just how remarkable she is. And why her work is so important.
On the 5th of May 2012, Jenny’s daughter Lucy took her own life. She was just 22. A young, energetic, sociable, fun-loving young woman, she had some problems, but nothing that indicated that she might have been struggling. Lucy seemed… happy. Jenny and her family were left reeling with shock, loss and confusion.
“It just came from left field. I didn't know the extent that she was struggling. I knew she had some issues with her mental health, but I didn't know that she was contemplating suicide. It was a massive shock.” In the weeks that followed, Jenny’s grief took her to dark places. She and her daughter were so close, she reasoned, how could she have missed the signs? Wracked with guilt, she scrutinised what she could have done differently. Was her career to blame? Jenny went on frequent business trips and questioned whether she had been present enough for her daughter. Then she learned that two weeks before her death, Lucy had tried to access help but had been unsuccessful. And this ignited the anger that turned one family’s helplessness and grief into an urgent need to ensure that no one else should ever lose their child in this way. “I thought, if you guys [medical professionals] can’t even see it, I have to do something,” says Jenny. “I really have to do something. How many more young people have been turned away?”