Tiffany Philippou is a 33-year-old lifestyle writer living in London. Her book, Totally Fine (and other lies I’ve told myself) is published today and explores everything Tiffany has learnt in the decade she’s been grieving. In this blog, Tiffany introduces us to her story.
It was shortly after my twentieth birthday when I got the call that my boyfriend Richard was in hospital. He had tried to take his own life and died in hospital seven days later. I was in complete shock.
We’d known each other for less than two years, but we’d met on my first night at university and had spent almost every day and night together since. Suddenly, at twenty years old, I’d lost my person and I was facing a new decade, one that is usually full of such promise, with bleak and bitter emptiness.
I now know it’s important to try and speak to a friend who’s going through grief.
I spent the next ten years trying to run from my loss and pretending it never happened. When Richard died, Instagram didn’t exist and Facebook was just a place to post pictures of nights out and so I didn’t have at my reach some of the online communities that might have helped me. I also felt a lot of shame. I blamed myself for his death and berated myself with ‘how could I not have known?’ The shame was so strong that I couldn’t speak about my grief and feared judgment from others.
I also didn’t think the magnitude of my grief felt legitimate. We were still so young, we weren’t married and hadn’t spent that much of our young lives together. My friends were also young and although they tried their best, we both mirrored what we thought the other wanted. I didn’t want to speak about it out of fear that they didn’t want to hear and they didn’t want to bring it up in case I didn’t want to talk about it. I now know it’s important to try and speak to a friend who’s going through grief.
I’m speaking my shame out loud over and over again and I hope hearing my story helps others who are experiencing their own loss.
After a decade of feeling the weight of the shame and taboo about his death and the magnitude of my grief, I started to write the story of what had happened with Richard and how I’d tried to bury it. My book Totally Fine (and other lies I’ve told myself) is the result of that work and I’ve found so much relief and solace in sharing my story. After ten years of barely uttering Richard’s name, I’m speaking my shame out loud over and over again and I hope hearing my story helps others who are experiencing their own loss.
It’s really important to me to tackle the suicide taboo and talk about it. In 2019, suicides among young people aged 10-24 increased for the second year in a row and averaged at 18 a day, 74% of these are male suicides. You so rarely hear stories of those bereaved by suicide and I felt so much shame and guilt and so I hope my book helps others. I hope anyone who’s experiencing grief will read it and feel less alone.
Totally Fine (and other lies I’ve told myself) by Tiffany Philippou is published by Thread on 17th March. Order it here.