On Thursday 12th September at a glittering awards night the winners of the Fife Women Rock awards were announced.
And there was even a secret award – Woman of the Year.
For my Fife Women Rock organising partner Annie and I, there was only ever going to be one choice for who was going to be the winner.
Lynsey Ramsay…here’s her story.
When Lynsey Ramsey lost her partner Ross to suicide in 2006, the world around her seemed a frightening and angry place.
Confronted with the thought of bringing up three children under five alone and dealing with their and her grief, alongside the perceptions of others around suicide, could have bowled her over.
But back then, although devastated, overwhelmed and in the midst of a truly dark time, she made a choice.
She chose to love. She chose kindness and she chose honesty.
She chose forgiveness and compassion.
Here’s her amazing story in her own words- not one of tragedy, but of celebration. I’ve been truly touched by her journey and I know you will be too.
Although Ross had openly struggled with depression and mental health from a teenager, I never imagined that one day he would take his own life.
It’s a moment in my life that will never leave me.
The words that made my stomach hit the floor and the world around me crumble at my feet.
Words that left a ringing in my ears where I could then hear no other sound as I felt an overwhelming sense of numbness run through my body.
How I wanted those words to be taken back so I didn’t have to accept that this was happening to us.
Looking back I initially couldn’t cope with the details of Ross’s suicide and felt as if I was almost a childlike state.
I was scared and I didn’t want to know what Ross had done to end his life.
All I could focus on was the feelings of fear and having to face tomorrow, when my children would wake, and I would have to find the words to tell them.
It the hardest and most painful thing I have ever had to do.
Finding strength for the kids
Fear and complete shock shifted to an energy of strength and guidance for my children.
My priority was now being a mum and carrying them through this dark and painful time.
Lots of people around us were angry and so confused as to why Ross would do such a thing, yet I felt an overwhelming sense of understanding Ross and wanting to protect him.
Amongst these feelings I then found myself questioning my emotions as whilst the world around us seemed to feel anger, I felt forgiveness.
I felt very protective of Ross and I guess in my heart I did understand him.
Knowing that his pain outweighed being here with his children – whom he loved dearly – made me realise Ross felt he had no choice.
Daddy loved us
I appreciate lots of people find it difficult to understand suicide and there will be families where there situation will be different from Ross and the illness he was fighting.
My main priority was for my children not to grow up surrounded by anger and bitterness.
I wanted them to feel safe and secure and to know their Daddy loved us immensely and it was important for me that they didn’t question the family unit we were.
Ross’s suicide was a reflection of his illness and his mindset, I didn’t want them to ever doubt his love for them.
I believe Ross wanted to leave us with only good and loving memories of him and not the person he was afraid of becoming whilst he battled with his depression.
Although it is hard to understand, I genuinely believe Ross thought he was doing this to protect us from his illness.
Open and honest
The children were young but it was always important to me to be open with them and answer the many questions they grew to have over the years.
It’s been very painful and difficult at times to be so honest with them but I feel now as the adults they are becoming they have a trust in me as their mum that I have always guided and answered their questions.
I feel this has given them a sense of respect towards their own emotions, thoughts and understanding of mental health and suicide.
I hope as they grow they will use the tools I have given them in life to understand and cope with difficult times.
I want them to know that no matter how lost in the depths of darkness we become there is always a light that awaits us.
When Ross first died, I did lots of writing and I attended counselling where I often took my written pieces to help me express myself.
My councillor was always moved by the way I wrote and how open I was in my grief and guiding my children.
She did say to me many times that my grief and understanding of it was quite unique.
At the time though I honestly thought she was saying this to make me feel better about myself . It’s only now I am beginning to believe in her supportive words. Albeit its taken me almost 14 years.
I still turned to my writing in times of need. I would write on social media if I was feeling a bit down or reflective and sometimes as a way of expressing my gratitude for the light I have found.
I would often get honest and heartfelt messages from people who were struggling. These messages filled my heart with warmth to know sharing my feelings helped people in the world feel less alone.
A close friend of mine suggested I channel these feelings into something creative that incorporated my writing and I created my precious feather ball.
A few close friends had sadly lost a parent and I made them feather baubles which then had a knock on affect with other friends and family wanting to order.
At this point it genuinely wasn’t something I imagined would become a business. I just felt so touched that something I had created was bringing love and comfort to others.
Through the support of my good friends I decided to promote the feathers on my Facebook business page which I named “Cherished”
Almost instantly it grew from strength to strength.
I am a great believer in paths crossing for a reason and the heaven sent people who come into our life.
For me one of these people is Sandy Robertson of Calum Robertson Funeral Parlour.
Ross and I initially met Sandy at a parenting group, when his wife Audrey and I were both pregnant with our boys.
Again as fate seems to have called it we gave birth to our boys on the same day in June. From there we kept in touch.
So when Ross died, Sandy was my immediate choice to care for Ross. I knew he was in safe hands and Sandy guided me in the most gentle and sensitive way helping me to make difficult and painful decisions. A true earth angel.
Over the years since losing Ross we kept in touch and both Sandy and Audrey will always hold a special place in my heart.
After seeing my Cherished page, Sandy suggested I make business cards and a brochure to incorporate into their family run parlour. I then met with Callum, who couldn’t have been more generous or supportive.
They both have both been a massive part in my journey with self belief and supporting me whilst I sometimes take the courage to step out of my comfort zone.
I will be eternally thankful to both Callum and Sandy on so many different levels.
The business has really grown over the last three years and it is now being incorporated in other funeral parlours and local florists.
I am now also a Reiki practitioner and have my own premises.
My journey with Reiki began in November last year and very quickly I formed a client base from the people I was connecting with through my Cherished Souls business and the items I create.
I have recently incorporated Reiki healing into the package I offer with Callum Robertson as part of his after care service with families.
After the funeral we are often left feeling of what to do next or where to turn for help, I feel Reiki can help bridge the gap between loss and beginning our healing process.
It genuinely means the world to me to be able to offer healing to others and to be a part of their Reiki journey.
It fills my heart with such warmth that Ross’s memory is such a big part of the bespoke service I offer to bring comfort and healing to grieving families.
It might sound strange to others, but I feel blessed to be the person I am today and to be surrounded in such love.
I have always struggled with self-doubt and over the years this has really held me back.
Now it’s a truly beautiful feeling to be on a platform of love, gratitude and self belief where I can see for myself the difficulties I have overcome and how much I have grown as a person not only in business but in my personal life too.
I am fulfilling my dreams and going beyond reaching my goals.
And ultimately I’m showing my children if I can fulfill my dreams and ambitions, then anything is possible for them.
The next chapter
I am now married and a mum to four, joined by the blessing from heaven that is my youngest daughter. My older children are now 18 , almost 17 and 15 and I feel immensely proud of them.
I’m so thankful for my husband David for understanding and respecting the love I shared with Ross and have it be part of the love we have created together….he truly understands me like no other.
A hand I never have to ask for. All I need to do is reach and love him more than he will ever know.
I truly believe Ross has surrounded me in me in strength and love since the day he left us….I feel it in my heart.
If you would like to know more about the work Lynsey does, find her on Facebook.