Grace: “Dad’s death came as a complete shock… I hope the crisis line saves others from a similar loss”

Grace Moore’s beloved dad, Andrew, died by suicide in February 2020. Here, she shares how she and her family have coped with their grief and why they’re wholeheartedly supporting our Crisis Line.

Please note: the following story contains references to suicide that may be upsetting to some readers.

Grace Moore remembers her firefighter dad, Andrew, as her biggest supporter and best friend who had been an unwavering source of strength and inspiration throughout her life.

She speaks of her Dad’s capacity to love and support others, his selfless nature, mental grit, artistic talent, unforgettable humour and infectious laugh. She takes comfort in knowing that Andrew has had a lasting impact on those he left behind — from family members to friends, colleagues and even strangers.

And while she knew that he had been struggling with his mental health for a while, she says nothing could have prepared her and her family for his tragic death.

Andrew took his own life in February 2020, at the age of 50. He was working as a firefighter at the time with West Midlands FRS, and Grace feels his death came as a particularly huge shock to his colleagues, as many were completely unaware of the deep sadness that lay beneath the surface of his friendly smile and playful presence.

Grace, 25, now hopes, by sharing her experience of grief in the years since, she’ll help other families who may be going through similar – while raising awareness of our 24/7 crisis line for anyone in the fire service who may be facing their own challenges.

Read more on our 24/7 Crisis Line

“Dad was just my best friend really,” says Grace. “He was the strongest person I knew and inspired me every single day. He had such a gentle nature, yet he was so funny and never failed to make me laugh. Our father-daughter relationship had always been strong – I was a Daddy’s girl, but as I grew older and the more I was shaped by my own life’s experiences, our relationship matured and we leaned on each other for support during difficult moments.

“There was always just a beautiful reciprocity of wisdom, love and support. He had such a profound impact on my life, and ultimately the woman I am today. I know that I did all that I could to support him with the resources that I had at the time, but it doesn’t take away from the bone-deep ache of questioning what more I could have done — which I think is often a common thread among those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“Like myself, he was very much an introvert and was generally a quiet person who would try and avoid being the centre of attention at all costs. But, when you got to know him, he would open up and come out of his shell. He was loved by so, so many.

“It wasn’t visibly obvious just how much he was struggling — he hid it so well, and bravely at that. I feel honoured that my dad felt comfortable sharing and talking openly about his emotions and feelings with me, as I did with him. And hearing him say that I was a source of light for him in the darkness he sometimes felt lost in, was comforting. I just wish I could have done more and I wish the Crisis Line was available when he needed it. His suicide has left an empty void in my heart which will never again be filled.

“Sometimes you could tell that he was feeling low, but other times I think he just tried to hide it and pretend that things were fine, I could always sense when he wasn’t ok though.

“I think it was a huge shock to his colleagues in particular because I don’t think he often showed his vulnerable side at work. I know from many of the stories he used to share and stories that his colleagues have shared with me since his passing, that he loved joking around and playing pranks on his colleagues. But, I also know that he was the one that everyone turned to when they needed advice or were struggling themselves, which is just testimony to how selfless he was. He was such a good listener and always knew the right words to say.”

Grace says despite knowing her dad had been finding things difficult, nothing could have prepared her for what happened.

“It was just the worst time ever,” she says. “It was a complete shock to the whole family and it was just horrific. Nothing could have prepared us for the moment Dad surrendered to the darkness that eventually consumed him. The only consolation I can take now, is to hope that he has found the peace that he was so desperately searching for in this life.

“It was as though the rest of the world kept moving, and life continued, but for us it stopped.

“Those initial days and months were traumatising. There are no words to describe the depths of the pain we experienced trying to come to terms with what had happened. It was like a deafening silence, yet I can still hear my primal screams as though they were deeply etched in my mind. Suicide loss is so, so complicated and carries with it so many complex emotions and questions.”

In the weeks that followed, Grace says she leant on her mum and brother for support, as they did with her, and tried to focus on their cherished memories with Andrew – as well as hearing memories from his colleagues.

“The first few weeks and months were a complete blur. It didn’t feel real, as though we were just waiting for dad to walk back in through the door. But he didn’t. He was everywhere, yet nowhere – every room in the house was a reminder that days before, he was alive and with us, and now he was gone, forever. The house felt empty. Almost immediately after the funeral, we entered the first Covid lockdown, which didn’t really help the situation,” says Grace.

“However, I was still living at home with my mum and brother at that point and I think we appreciated the disconnect and not having to go out and face the world. Family was a huge support at that time, especially my mum and brother. We kind of forged our way on our own and figured it out day by day, moment by moment.

“Dad’s colleagues were a huge part of the funeral which was incredibly powerful and really moving. Despite it being an experience that I never ever wanted to live through, at least so young, it was such a beautiful tribute to my dad and the life he lived so fully and fiercely. I truly believe he gave this life his all, right up until his very last breath.

“And I trust that now, his courage and light lives on in me. Which is why it feels so important to me to keep talking about him, to not let his name be forgotten, and to keep his legacy alive. I have kept in touch with a few of his colleagues, which is a lovely connection to have, especially when they share some of the happy memories they have with him – stories that I’ve perhaps not heard before.”

Grace is now supporting the launch of our 24/7 crisis line0300 373 089 – which offers immediate and ongoing suicide and mental health crisis care for past and present UK fire services personnel.

“I think this is a really valuable resource and I’m 100% sure that it will be incredibly impactful and hopefully save other families and firefighter colleagues going through this experience,” says Grace.

“I also think it’s really important for anyone struggling or contemplating suicide to know that there is always support available — there is always someone to listen. The Crisis Line is a much-needed resource that I pray those in crisis can find the courage to use. So please, if you or someone you know are in a difficult place or struggling to find the light, call the number. You are never alone and you most certainly are not a burden.”

Andrew’s sister, Cathy, also previously shared her memories. You can read her story here.

We also have resources available for families and friends following a death by suicide. You can find those here.

If you’re feeling suicidal, call our Crisis Line on 0300 373 0896.

If you feel you’d benefit from our health and wellbeing support, you can call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or visit the ‘Access Support’ tab in My Fire Fighters Charity.