Saturday, February 5, 2011

A special Saturday.

Earlier this morning I attended the 4th annual AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in Orlando, FL. It was a beautiful, sunny 75-degree day filled with friends, memories, encouragement and hope. Our team arrived early to set up our tent and begin greeting supporters who had registered online to walk alongside us. Attending this walk has been a real privilege for me in the past, but today it was personal. Today I attended this event in an entirely different place than I did exactly one year ago. Because this year, I walked for my best friend.

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.


  1. I just found your blog, and wanted to say this is a really beautiful post. I lost a friend a few months ago in a tragic accident (though not to suicide), and a lot of this really resonated with me. So thank you.

  2. Goodness, thank you for your sweet comment. I am really thankful you found it encouraging and that you could connect with it. That was my hope when I shared.

  3. What addiction was your friend dealing with? I often hear that recovery is possible, but in the face of my own addiction to drugs and cutting, it just feels like there will never truly be a way out on this side of heaven.

  4. Hey beautiful girl,

    Just found your blog & so happy to be able to "connect" to you this way! I miss you in my life! I'm so sorry for the loss you have experienced. I have experienced quite a bit of the pain of death over the past year myself (not suicide related, but painful still) and it really does change you. I recently attended a really insightful talk on suicide through the Grand Rounds presentations at the College of is a link for where you can down the handout or webcast if interested (scroll down to Dr. Joiner's talk on Jan 27th 2011):

    Love you LOTS.