Loss is inevitable. Reconciling the void from the death of someone important in our lives comes with the territory of love and relationship. It is never easy to let go or say goodbye or redesign a day without constant reminders of missing someone now gone.
When a person we love takes his or her own life, the pain of loss is compounded by confusion, regret, guilt and “if only.” My family’s experience of losing one brother to suicide and then 30 years later suffering the loss of another brother by his choice leaves us with the challenge of patching our heart wound that is jagged with pain and bewilderment.
Since my brother Neil’s death three years ago, the unfortunate branding of suicide is now doubled in our family tapestry. Yet we are not alone. Recently I had the opportunity to share experiences with several people who have lost sisters, spouses, parents and brothers to suicide, often happening more than once in many families.
Although each story is unique and layered with memories spanning joy to sorrow, there is a common understanding of where depression and mental illness can lead if not corralled by treatment. And even then, often the seeds of despair treated by darkness in the abyss of one’s mind can seem unreachable despite the appropriate help.
This is National Suicide Prevention Week, a reminder that awareness and willingness to talk about the once taboo subject of suicide is one important key in unlocking the world of isolation that mental illness and depression breeds. Whether you have lost someone to suicide or felt the tug of hopelessness yourself, the remedy is to step towards a lighter path, one that supports, understands and encourages the sharing of common experiences, offering legitimate avenues of help, and providing safe places to be vulnerable.
I invite you to join me in participating in the local Out of the Darkness Community Walk, presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Central Ohio. The goal is to raise money for suicide research and prevention programs, and provide an opportunity to support one another as we strive for a more open and supportive culture regarding mental illness and survivor outreach.
The walk will take place Oct. 25 at Oakwood High School at 2 pm. Registration begins at 1. There are three-and one-mile options. If you would like more information, please contact Sallie Luther at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This will be my first year participating, and I look forward to meeting others who are willing to walk with purpose. Thanks to Luther, Sue Hanna and Leigh Ann Fulford for sharing their stories of love and loss. Sharing stories is infectious and welcoming and safe. I anticipate meeting some amazing people.
One of our regular community contributors, Anne Marie Romer is a mother of four, graduate of the University of Dayton and registered nurse. She writes “The Space Between,” a blog which can be found at Annemarieromer.com.