Faced with the darkest of journeys, Lynsey Ramsey chose compassion, kindness, love and honesty.
In 2006, with three children under the age of five, she lost her partner to suicide.
Faced with the devastating loss, she had to cope with her grief and that of her young family, as well as the ripples of shock which spread much wider.
But where there was anger, she felt forgiveness, and that strength has helped Lynsey help and support others in equally dark times via her flourishing business and now as a Reiki practitioner.
Last week she was named Woman of the Year at the inaugural Fife Women Rock awards.
She attended the event in Kinghorn unaware both organisers, Cara Forrester and Annie Crow, had, independently, picked her for the last, and most poignant, award of the night.
“I am still feeling overwhelmed,” she said. “I went along to support my good friend Louise Anderson who was a finalist.
“As the night drew to an end and they began to present my award whilst sharing my story, I quickly realised it was me they were presenting it to.
“If it wasn’t for the support from everyone around me, and Cara and Annie’s warmth and love awaiting me, I wouldn’t have managed the walk down to receive it. I was so emotional.
“Although it’s “Woman of the Year” I feel it’s not an award just for me, it’s for my family David my husband, Ross, Jack, Megan, Charlie and Ava as well as all my beautiful clients and families who put their trust in the love of Cherished Souls.
It was a deeply moving, touching moment which moved many to tears.
It brought Lynsey’s story full circle – a story of finding light in the depths of darkness.
It began with the devastating news of her partner’s death in 2006.
Ross had been open with his battles with mental health issues and depression, but taking his own life was still a profound shock.
They had three children under the age of five.
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Lynsey said: “ It’s a moment in my life that will never leave me.
“I can still remember the ringing in my ears as the world around me fell and how my heart ached for time to turn back so I didn’t have to accept that this was happening to us.”
“All I could focus on was the feelings of fear and having to face tomorrow, when my children would awake, and I would have to find the words to tell them.”
Ross’ death devastated his family and friends. Grief, anger and shock all rolled into painful emotion.
“The initial time of fear and complete shock soon 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,” she said.
“Lots of people around us were angry and so understandably confused, but I felt an overwhelming sense of understanding towards Ross and wanting to protect him .
“While the world around us seemed to feel anger, I felt forgiveness. I felt very protective of Ross.”
Lynsey was determined that her children would always know their dad loved them – “ I wanted them to feel safe and secure and to know their daddy loved us immensely” – and so began a journey that, at times, was incredibly tough as she answered their questions with honesty.
“It’s been very painful and difficult at times,” she admitted, “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 our situation has given them in life to understand and cope with difficult times and to know that no matter how lost in the depths of darkness we become there is always a light that awaits us.”
Lynsey attended counselling and started writing, and, gradually, a door started to open.
The words helped during times when she was struggling emotionally, but they also sparked a response in others - in using her social media page to find a positive to keep her afloat. Lynsey found herself speaking to others experiencing grief and loss.
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“I would often get honest and heartfelt messages from people who were struggling,” she said. “These messages filled my heart with warmth to know that in me sharing my feelings there were people in the world who then felt less alone.”
A knee injury three years ago proved a turning point, and the birth of a business.
The injury affected Lynsey physically and mentally – she found many of the emotions and anxieties from losing Ross coming back . “A sense of darkness was overcoming me,” she said.
Encouraged by a friend to tap into her creative side, Lynsey produced feather baubles for friends who had lost a parent. Others saw the comfort they brought and asked her to make them. Cherished Souls was launched.
It was never envisaged as a business. It simply took off.
One reason was a connection with Sandy Robertson from Callum Robertson Funeral Director.
Lynsey and Sandy’s wife, Audrey, met at a Forth Park parenting group in 2001 – both gave birth to boys on the same day – and the couples kept in touch.
Sandy – “a true earth angel” – was the person she called to organise Ross’ funeral, and guide Lynsey through the process.
That link surfaced once again when Sandy, and Callum, encouraged Lynsey to promote her feathers, and so Cherished Souls found itself reaching a much wider audience.
“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,” said Lynsey. “I will be eternally thankful to both Callum and Sandy on so many different levels.”
With florists and other funeral directors also coming on board, Lynsey now has her own premises, and, last year, she has become a Reiki practioner – another way of offering support to people in dark times.
“After a funeral we are often left lost in the feelings 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,” she said.
But perhaps the most profound change came in her personal life when she met David, who is now her husband, and, together they had a child.
And Ross remains at the heart of their family as Lynsey explained: “I am now married and a mum to four with the blessings from heaven in my youngest daughter.
“I thank my husband David from the depths of my heart for understanding and respecting the love I shared with Ross as, together, we cherish it in 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 I love him more than he will ever know.
“It has been a difficult and dark journey, and some days still are, but our light shines bright, and 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.”