What Happened Then
Why is it so terribly hard for me (and others) to be more public about suicide? One year ago today I wrote about my Dad’s death for the first time on my blog and clicking the “publish” button made me feel so sick I wanted to crawl under the covers in my bed.
For me, I feel his suicide displays a deficit I carry in my genetic make-up. I wonder if others worry about my stability, or if the LOML could have made a better choice in who he married. If my Father could commit suicide, what does that mean I am capable of? What does it say about me that I couldn’t “save” him? I couldn’t see the signs of my Dad’s despair –or ignored the ones I did see –and went about my self-centered, young-adult life.
Just typing that last paragraph made me tear up as I sat at my computer. Those feelings explain only part of the complexity of dealing with a suicide as a form of death. It’s emotionally messy. It leaves survivors struggling for answers that will never come, causing us to create our own as best we can.
I intended last year’s post to help others who might be struggling with recovering from a loss due to suicide. I offered support, but got an over-whelming amount in return. I hadn’t expected so many readers to share their stories of loss and difficulty of the struggle to make sense of their loved one’s decision. Readers told me about brothers, Moms, sisters who chose to die instead of deal with the pain of being alive for another day. It was the biggest, most honest, conversation about suicide I ever had. It didn’t erase the pain, but for the first time, I didn’t feel so alone with my story.
What I Know Now
The more I’ve learned about suicide, the more I understand it as a proclamation of a lost battle with mental health and I find comfort in knowing this. Instead of wondering what could I have done? What did I do wrong? Didn’t he love us enough to stick around? It relieves some of the guilt, not entirely, but it helps.
If you are thinking about taking your own life, stop reading right now and call anyone who will help. Call the police if you need to, but do not let mental illness be the winner in your story. You deserve more than that ending for yourself and the people who love you. If you think no one cares, you are wrong. Find the people who care and go to them for help.
If you are surviving this kind of loss, seek help to recover from it and don’t keep quiet. Tell your story, find others who will listen, and listen to their stories. You are not alone in your grief or how you choose to express it. Others deal with it, too. Also, don’t let your life be defined by this death. Suicide is now a part of your story, but it can be a chapter instead of the entire book.
What We Can Do
In honor of my Dad and anyone who grieves for someone who died as my Dad did, I gave myself a challenge at the beginning of the year: I call this my Pledge-A-Post idea. I pledged to donate $10.00 per post, up to $500, to try to change the world. I want my blog to have a philanthropic focus and help people who live in the wake of suicide, but I want to talk about more than that in this space. My Dad’s death is part of who I am, and I’m made up of so much more as well.
As of this post, I have pledged $100 to donate at the end of the year. In October, I will count how many posts I wrote this year and total up the pledge money. That’s when you (my faithful six readers) help me decide where the money will be spent.
I hope Pledge-A-Post creates a dialogue about the good works being done in our world. I want to hear your stories and share them with others. I am working on a Pledge-A-Post button you can put on your site to link to an “about” page here so you can help spread the word. (Thanks to the lovely Ellie of One Crafty Mother for this idea!) When you write a post about how you make the world a better place –either by donating your time, money, or energy to an organization –let me know about it. I’ll link to your post on my Pledge-A-Post page to spread the word about your awesomeness.
I want the money I pledge to inspire others to donate to their community or an organization they believe in to make our world a better place. If you want to add money to my Pledge-A-Post challenge, please wait; hold onto the money and spread the word for now. I’m not sure how I should deal with financial donations…yet. I’ll keep you posted on how this develops.
Thanks for reading and spreading the word about Pledge-A-Post. I hope it does what I intend and more. I appreciate any help you offer and look forward to seeing how this expands throughout the rest of the year.
Blessings to you and yours.