Tributes have been paid to Caroline Flack, one year on from her death. The TV presenter took her own life at the age of 40. In an interview with BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, her friend Ophelia Lovibond spoke about how she would like Caroline to be remembered.
“I met Caroline at another friend’s birthday dinner and it was just this immediate connection. You knew when Caroline was in a room, she just emanated this vivacity and she just changed the energy of a room.
“I think there are some people that you meet where you just feel an immediate affinity – it was like we’d known each other forever. We found each other mutually hilarious. We just loved making each other laugh and that seemed to be so much of what our friendship was. She was such an enormous person in my life and it’s that laughter – you feel that absence very keenly.
“Because of the way Caroline died, it is very easy to let that overshadow everything else. But her life counted for so much more than the way she died, and those are the things that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been playing the Supremes, I’ve been playing Chic and I’ve been playing Dusty Springfield – all the songs that we would sing at karaoke that she would just belt out.
“It’s very easy to say this and it sounds like some sort of platitude, but when I do start to feel quite overwhelmed – it’s very painful the grief of missing her – one of the things I think about is that she would hate so much for me to be sitting here like this. She would want me to focus on all of the amazing things that you did together and the fun things that we did together.
“She had such an impact on so many different people’s lives. That’s actually strangely been quite a comfort to see what a lovely legacy she’s left behind. One of the most common things people talk about is her laughter. If I could bottle it – it was such a bomb. I think it’s a nice thing that she’s so publicly remembered for her big character.
“It’s always shocking when someone does this. Whenever you lose anyone it’s enormously difficult and I lost a family member to breast cancer and that was a very hard, but this felt very different. I think something that was very interesting to discover was that the grief feels different because it was a complete shock, there was absolutely no way of getting used to the idea or visiting someone hospital. The suddenness is very hard to comprehend.
“We should remember Caroline as someone who loved telling jokes, she loved making people laugh, she loved karaoke more than anyone. She loved leopard print, she loved musicals, she loved going to theatres. Her life was so rich, it was so full of love and laughter and I want people to remember her by the things that she did in her life, not in the way that she went away.”
Sarah Bates, from the support group Support After Suicide Partnership, says one of the difficulties of losing someone to suicide is the “shock”.
“With suicide it’s the action of someone having taken their own life and that feeling of guilt that makes makes it so difficult to deal with.
“It’s so important to talk to people and to your friends. It can be really difficult sometimes, especially if you feel guilty or if you feel that you could have done more. Perhaps you had an argument with that friend before they died. It doesn’t mean it’s your fault, it just means that you care.
“Sometimes it’s actually easier to talk to a stranger in that situation, and there’s lots of support out there.”
If you or someone you know needs support for issues about bereavement and emotional distress, these organisations may be able to help.