In the past year, two people I had known for decades and a third, the brother of a dear friend, committed suicide.
The immensity of the loss shared by these three families and all those who loved them can never be measured. Immeasurable will also be the questions that remain unanswered as is the pain that arrives with grief. Time is what will eventually supply the wounds of grief with the ability to heal and it is time that will provide what no words can do.
The issue of suicide, prevention, and the issues surrounding why so many choose to end their own lives, has recently been gaining attention; and rightfully so. Awareness and open discussion surrounding depression and mental illness will hopefully bring the topic, and all those who need help, from the darkness.
We all need to begin to accept responsibility in supporting those around us.
We all need to accept responsibility for our actions and how our words, behavior and ignorance affects others.
We all need to take time to lend an ear or shoulder to those in our lives who may need it now.
Turning a blind eye helps no one and is part of the problem.
No one is unaffected by this. We are all a part of the solution to help others and we are all a part of the problem if we fail to act.
As a brain tumor patient, of course I’ve struggled to cope with the diagnosis. I think there would be something wrong if I hadn’t struggled. Fortunately, those difficult and sometimes dark days have been few in number and I was blessed, by the grace of god, to somehow find a balance in my approach to coping with my diagnosis early on.
Having never struggled with depression, I can only imagine how debilitating it is, yet I know first hand how hurtful and harmful people can be when you’re least prepared to handle it and most in need of support.
For each crappy “friend”, who walked away; passed judgment on our decision to go after the tumor; couldn’t cope with our new normal; and told me that I…
needed to get over it and quit crying
in the early days; there were 5 old and new friends who stepped up to the plate and provided encouragement and support.
Do I wish I’d had the capacity to have a rebuttal when I was told “to get over it”? Of course I do. I recognize now how lucky I am that those hurtful people and their words didn’t send me over the edge to that lonely and desperate place where so many people find themselves.
Everyone deserves support. No one deserves to be judged. No one deserves to feel like they are alone. No one deserves to go on a difficult journey alone. Everyone deserves better.
Regardless of what your path may be, whether it’s a journey as a patient fighting an illness or disease like me; are fighting depression or mental illness; experiencing divorce or the loss of a loved one; struggling with sexual identity, hatred, bullying or discrimination; we should collectively stop hurting one another and begin to do a better job recognizing and supporting and respecting the lives of others as well as our own.
Respect should be found in not only our common interests and shared excitement for the joys in our lives, but respect should also be found among our differences and when life is most challenging.
In the spirit of Pay it Forward Friday, I hope you’ll think of those around you and consider for a moment the impact reaching out, offering support, lending a hand, listening to another’s fears and concerns and giving back to one another can have. It can be profound.
Think for a moment how powerful it could be to use your voice to help another find theirs; and what can come from sharing your heart so another can know they are loved and not lost.The story behind the loss of my friend Laura’s brother Lucas to suicide can be found on her blog, Life After Normal. It is with great courage and strength that she shares her journey of healing.