I was checking my Instagram feed one night three years ago when I scrolled past this post: “Where has my beautiful love gone? It’s been a mere week and the pain feels like it’s lasted a millennia.”
These were the first words of a friend announcing that her husband had died suddenly. His death shocked me no less than the announcement of it on social media. I was slow in viewing Instagram as the place to reveal great tragedies as well as luscious dinners and stunning sunsets.
Then this Monday night, I was scrolling through LinkedIn, my all-business version of Instagram. I know everyone on my LinkedIn feed, so I was surprised to see a post from Sarah Holmes, legal director at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK). I’d never heard of her or her company. It began: “My family’s world has been rocked this weekend by the tragic loss of my brother Matt Holmes CBE, DSO. Last Friday evening he told me he was in fighting form, despite multiple stresses. Just a short time later he took his own life. RIP my dearest Matt.”
Hmmm. Not only the death of a brother, but his suicide, announced on LinkedIn. It turns out that Matt was Major-General Matthew Holmes, the former head of the Royal Marines, and that he’d taken his life because his marriage broke up and his job ended when the Marines were ‘restructured’. As The Times noted: “Holmes would address his troops from a standing height of 5ft 2in. Many of them looked down on him from a far greater height, but “Colonel Holmsey” would inspire them to follow him into what he described as Helmand Province’s “heart of darkness” in Afghanistan in 2007.”
That’s the ugly.