Cover Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
It’s probably clear from the title but I want to start by disclosing that I will be writing about suicide in this weeks post.
In July, the new national prevention hotline number, 988, launched. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Friday the 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day.
It seems every time I turn the corner, there is a new sign advertising the 988 hotline. Those green and black signs are like a beacon of what ifs for me. A painful reminder of who and what I lost on April 20th, 2021. Each time I come across one, I quickly divert my gaze, they are too painful to look at.
On Friday, World Suicide Prevention Day, I was reminded of how far I’ve come over the last year.
Last year, I was 7 months a widow to suicide and the title of the day just made me angry. I have never blamed myself for Tony’s decision to end his life. There were no red flags, no history of depression, nothing. So how could I blame myself or even prevent something that was invisible. I took offense to the prevention name, as the day was telling me I should have been able to do something. I still lit a candle for Tony, but I disdained the day.
This year, I was kinder to myself about the day. A bigger piece of my heart knew that it was about breaking down the stigma of suicide and being kind to one another. As I see it, there are 3 groups that need support this month. The people like me, who have experienced this kind of loss and are living in the aftermath. It is also about supporting those beings out there who are alive and struggling. Lastly, it’s about those who love someone struggling and desperately trying to help. So I kept candles burning all day.
Just because I had zero warning, doesn’t mean it is that way for everyone. I must believe that raising awareness will help someone out there get help. The hotline will save someone else’s loved one. And even though I mention having zero signs and not blaming myself, it does not mean anyone is ever to blame for their person’s suicide.
I miss my imperfectly wonderful husband every day. I have zero doubts that he loved his friends and family fiercely, it was himself that he secretly struggled with. We all loved him in return, and he knew that too. Unfortunately, our infinite love wasn’t enough to keep him grounded here. He made a profound and devastating mistake. It’s one that we can’t reverse or fix.
But there is work to bring awareness to the struggles of mental health and suicide. It’s why I write this blog, to help someone coming after me (or ahead of me). I am accepting of my role as grief guru in my circle. I send blog, book, and camp links to friends to pass onto their friends. I offer words of support to anyone in my larger circle of life who loses someone to suicide.
Every single time I hear of someone else dying by suicide I think to myself: “No, how can this be? Tony should have been the last one on earth to die this way.” I realize this isn’t logical, but I think it’s the empathy talking. I don’t want anyone to feel this way again but if they do, maybe I can help light the way.