One Post at a Time: Pledge-A-Post

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.

Comments (45)

  1. Deb Rox

    This idea is absolutely beautiful, and so are you. So much good will come from it!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks, Deb -you witnessed the start of this idea when we had our first break-out session at the very beginning of that conference. Thank you for inspiring me to create this.

      Reply
  2. La Jolla Mom

    You are amazing. This is a brilliant idea that is going to help so many people. Well done.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      That’s exactly what I’m hoping it will do. Thanks for reading and spreading the word!

      Reply
  3. molly campbell

    Wonderful and loving. I tweeted this, and I support you! So glad to know you also. xoxo

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Molly ~thank you. You make me smile every time we connect.

      Reply
  4. Ellie

    Oh, how I love this idea. You are an amazing, brave and lovely woman inside and out. I will help spread the word, for sure. The power of what we can do, how we can help, when we combine our hearts and voices will never, ever cease to amaze me.

    I adore you.

    -xo

    -Ellie

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh, Ellie! The feeling is mutual. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to help!

      Reply
  5. Kim Tracy Prince

    I don’t have the genetic component but I definitely went through survivor’s guilt and anger after my dear friend suffered a similar fate. It was very difficult to articulate my feelings for a long time afterward. Beautiful things have come of my friendship with her, and that is how I choose to honor her. I am touched by what you are doing and I’ll be listening closely.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks for sharing your story, Kim and I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I appreciate your support and look forward to seeing how this will develop throughout the year.

      Reply
  6. Frelle

    Your DM telling me to come read this post found me wearing my To Write Love On Her Arms t-shirt… an organization dedicated to raising awareness about suicide, self harm, and to give others help and hope in recovery. I can absolutely get behind this, it is close to my heart. Let me know if I can help in big or small ways. You have a beautiful heart, and your desire to change the world in this way inspires me.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      I’ve heard and read about this organization -they are doing great things and so inspiring. I need to get me one of those shirts. Hmmm. That just gave me another idea….
      Thanks, Dear!

      Reply
  7. Ann's Rants

    I love that you are turning shame into understanding and action.

    SO many misconceptions exist about suicide. The reason people suicide is to stop the pain.

    During my grad school internship with willowhouse.org I had the chance to learn from Nancy Perlson–a survivor of suicide herself (her father too) and a huge advocate and leader in the survivor’s of suicide field. From her I learned that suicide is the result of an unlucky combination of clinical depression and opportunity/timing. She explains clinical depression as wearing funny glasses–you just see the world differently and unless you get good intervention it can be fatal/catastrophic.

    I know you know all this, but I just want to say it again. No one failed your Dad. There is nothing you could have done to stop what happened. Your Dad didn’t fail himself–he did all he could do to stop the pain.

    Love to you Eileen.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh, Ann. I’m crying from this. Thank you. You just summed it up perfectly (of course). I’m so grateful to you for sharing this insight. Your words are so accurate and true -they will help everyone who reads this. Your contribution and support mean so much to me.

      Reply
  8. Ann's Rants

    And “good intervention” is often not enough/effective. Depression can be that strong.

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    What a wonderful idea! Thank you for committing yourself to bring something good out of what must have been such a tragedy.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks, Sarah -you said it perfectly -that’s exactly what I’m trying to do -lemonade from lemons, I guess. My Dad’s death was a really big, giant-sized lemon. I hoping this will make a truck-load of lemonade!

      Reply
  10. Anna Lefler

    Fantastic and beautiful idea!

    The yurt continues to resonate… ;-)

    XO

    A.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks, Anna -long live that yurt. xoxo

      Reply
  11. annie torres

    Thanks so much, girl, for posting this. You have no idea how much I needed to read that!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh Annie -I’m glad it could give you what you needed. Take good care of yourself and reach out if I can help at all.

      Reply
  12. MommaKiss

    Clicked over from a tweet, this is SO powerful. The feeling of doing something will be incredible and you have my support.

    My latest cause is breast cancer research – which is nothing compared to suicide – however, I’m so into it and it feels incredible to become more and more educated on the subject.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh, breast cancer -any cancer -can be such a nasty experience and emotionally confusing as well. I honor your efforts in supporting the research for a cure and have supported this in the past as well. Keep up the great work and let me know how you are working to change the world -I’ll link to you efforts on my Pledge-A-Post page. Thank you for your comment and encouragement.

      Reply
  13. TiffanyRom {SITSGirls}

    Wow.

    I am so impressed and inspired- and I’m betting your dad is too. You are not only honoring him, but serving as an example of courage to so many.

    I’ll be tweeting this out and look forward to watching what you’ve sparked grow.

    xoxo
    Tiffany

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks, Tiffany! You played a big part of making this idea become reality. I appreciate all you taught me and your support.

      Reply
  14. Nicole

    This is beyond a wonderful idea! Thank you. As a survivor of a very serious attempt on my own life, this means more than anyone could ever know. Thank you for being so brave as to share your experience. Much love

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh, Nicole. I’m so glad you’re still here to read this and I’m honored you would comment. Take care of yourself and get the care you need. Please see the comment written by Ann on this post -she offers great insight and comfort. Find me here if you ever need support in the future. You are not alone.

      Reply
  15. Heather of the EO

    Oh lady, you are such a beautiful person and this is a beautiful idea because of that.
    Thank you.

    Right now, in the community I grew up in, three kids have recently committed suicide, all within the same week. In January, an old friend did the same. And right before the three teens from my hometown, a 28 year old originally from the same community committed suicide as well. As you can imagine, the community is in a lot of pain, so much loss and confusion. People definitely need help understanding and we do need to find ways to serve and support each other. All that to say, thank you again. What a great thing you’re doing!

    Peace.

    Reply
  16. Karen Duggan

    I am so inspired by your commitment to being a place of healing and support for suicide survivors — Thank you for being out there with your story and your process. It helps me know I am not alone…xox

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks so much, Karen! It does help to know others understand. I appreciate your support and knowing you “get it”. xoxo back at’cha, Dear!

      Reply
  17. Vince Halter

    Eileen. Thank you for writing this. I think I told you that after my mom passed away I made a pact, a sick pact with myself that in my grief I would give myself one year to grieve and at the end of the year if I felt I couldn’t go on, I would join her. I saved all of her medication for a year thinking that those pills would me my method of crossing over to her. You and John reached out to me the first weekend after her funeral. You dropped everything and drove up to Livermore to be with me. I can NEVER fully articulate how much that meant to me in my recovery. In my case I didn’t even have to seek you and John out, you were there before I even knew what I needed. That was EXACTLY what I needed. My dearest friends who love me, standing with me when I needed you most. “Thanks” seems like such a little word to express the love I have for you in my heart. I truly do not know where I would be without your friendship, but I am so glad that I am HERE!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh, Vince. I do rememer you telling me this and I remember it terrified me. I remember feeling so thankful you made a different choice and that your pain lessened with time. Think of of all the students who would have missed out on learning from you and all the fun you would have missed if you rushed to be with your Mom. Our lives are truly a gift and mine is better with you in it -even though you make fun of me and call me nic-names that make me crazy! ;)
      Seriously, I remember you driving me home at 3:00AM after I got the phone call from my sister when my Dad died. You saved me that day and helped when I desperately needed it. Being there for you when your Mom passed away was the least I could do.
      You’re like a brother to me, that’s what family does -we help each other. Thanks for sharing here, Vicne -I love you so much! xoxo

      Reply
      1. Vince Halter

        ok, you just made me cry. But it’s a good kind of “thankful” cry! Love you!

        Reply
  18. Lucretia Pruitt

    Thanks Eileen. I had no idea what I was clicking over too – but I’m so very glad I did.
    Suicide touches everyone at some point in their lives. But whether it’s a family member, a friend, a coworker or even just an acquaintance – we all wonder if there was something that we, the survivors, could have done or said to change something. We *all* wish we could.
    But you know what? Talking about it – demystifying the causes & the signs, and making it less of a stigma to admit that someone is considering it or has attempted it? Will go a very long way toward helping the numbers go down.
    The friends and family I have lost over the years because they chose to ‘get up and walk out on the movie before it was really over’ keep a place in my heart. But it’s always a place of confusion and loss as well as love.

    I’ve never in my life heard someone say “oh thank heavens whatsisname committed suicide, we’re all so much better off without him… nobody really misses him at all.” NEVER. If you’re thinking about it and reading this? No, the world won’t be better off without you. Yes, people will miss you. Yes, you are loved.

    Thanks again Eileen. I’m so sorry about your Dad. But you don’t have to worry – you aren’t a ticking time bomb – you are someone who knows the signs all too well now, and knows how much it hurts to be the ones left behind, which is something you will never do to your family having been there yourself.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks so much for this, Lucretia -I guess I could have given you a bit of warning ~Oops! I can only say so much in 140 characters!
      You’re right -I’m not a ticking time bomb. Some people make judgements about me because of my family history. I’m trying to help the stigma be better understood and help people to realize exactly what you said -that suicide effects everyone at some point and we don’t need to be hush-hush about it.
      I appreciate you spreading the word and your comments here. Thanks again – You make me smile!

      Reply
  19. BusyDad

    I pledge allegiance to the pledge a post.

    LOVE the idea. You are an inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      You rock it all, Jim. And you know I’m stealing that. I’ll give you credit, but consider it stolen property and MINE!
      Thanks so much for always supporting the Calandro Clan!

      Reply
  20. Deb @ San Diego Momma

    This is such a lovely and inspirational idea.
    I’m so glad there are people like you in the world to make difficult things positive.

    Reply
  21. Deb Bruser

    Love your post. As someone who has lost a sister to suicide, I understand & empathize with you. I have volunteered in the field of suicidology for over 12 years. I have worked on suicide prevention “hotlines” and now work w/ survivors (those bereaved by losing a loved one to suicide). I help co-facilitate a survivors group and I also am a member of the L.O.S.S. Team. We are similar to first responders, in that, we are notified by the Coroner’s Office each time there is a suicide in our parish (county) and we go to the scene to speak with loved ones who are there. The team is made up of “survivors”…we offer a listening ear, resources available in our community (all free) and let them know that we have been where they are at that moment. Trying to wrap our heads around an act against oneself that is unimaginable.
    I just love what you are doing here with your pledge-a-post. YOU ROCK!!!
    Sending your prayers, love & light….
    deb
    http://www.brcic.org is the web page of all that we do in our community for suicide prevention & postvention.
    Thank you for allowing me to post.

    Reply
  22. Darryle

    What a thoughtful and beautiful post—and a wonderful idea. My heart has always ached for the people left behind after a suicide—I sadly know several–and your words and actions are very inspiring.

    Reply
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  24. Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

    HUGS. I am sorry for your loss :( I just wrote about my friend committing suicide, on my blog today.. It is so sad :(

    Reply
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