I really love the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Not only are they wonderful friends and colleagues, but personally I've found great hope and healing through their services. I lost my best friend Brittany this year, and it rocked my world. I mean it. Shook everything that was solid and challenged so much of what I understood. Having worked in the realm of addictions and mental health for a few years before the moment I learned about her addiction, I quickly came to understand that helping a stranger and helping a best friend are two completely different realities. So I took her hand, and we walked it. We walked that road of recovery together for roughly four months before she passed away this past May, and after her death I began attending survivor support groups and going to grief counseling for free through their online locator. Since I work with suicide prevention as a huge part of my job, it was really important that I embraced the grieving process entirely. Working for TWLOHA during this season has been a blessing I cannot even begin to articulate, and my coworkers have been a huge part of my grieving process as well. Today reminded me of this.
It has been nine months since her death, and I can honestly say that life is beginning to feel more like itself again. It's like color has finally returned to my surroundings. I was chatting with a good friend at the walk this morning, and we were just stunned by the amount of time it has taken us before we have been able to recount fond memories of our loved ones lost to suicide and not have those happy memories tainted by the tragedy of their death. However, our memories continue to carry us through, and sooner or later we feel like we can make it through too.
Losing Britt was a completely foreign experience, and I never want to lose a friend by suicide ever again. But the process has changed, grown and stretched so much of who I am. And I am thankful to know that there are so many people who care for me and want to continue to carry me when I'm unsure about how to deal with it. Suicide brings questions you've never-in-your-wildest-dreams-ever conjured up in your mind, right to the forefront. And those questions can seep into everything you do. Some days, your job, your personal life, your family and friends, and even your dreams can become saturated by the pain you're feeling. It can make you feel helpless and angry and relieved and unsure and defeated and everything else. And it's all "normal." And it's ok.
So if you or someone you know is struggling in any way, or life is maybe even beginning to feel unlivable, know that you are not alone in your pain. There are professionals willing to help, friends and crisis workers ready to listen, and those who have experienced a pain similar to yours waiting to tell you that it matters, and that life is worth living despite that pain. There is still hope.
Thanks for reading, guys. I hope you feel loved today. You are.