Calling on Friends


If we leave our friends out of our healing process when dealing with trauma and/or serious problems, our friendships can begin to feel shallow.  Two of my friends, I will name as A and M to protect them, have promised me to help me no matter what. 

Actually, person A told me that, “…at no point should you feel you are intruding or that I’m not here for you.  If you need to talk with someone or just have someone on the phone so you do not feel alone, I want you to know you can always call me.”  What a true friend. 


Person M told me, “Be kind to yourself and PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE.  Sorry to sound angry but I’m a bit upset that you didn’t reach out and call me.  I expect you to call my cell, which is on my nightstand, whenever you need me.  I mean this.  Don’t make me come down there and hurt you.”   Okay she was kidding on that last threat, but I know I love my dear friend for all she means to me. 

When we are going through a difficult time, we may hesitate to call even our best friends because we don’t want to burden them with our troubles.  This can be especially true if we’ve been going through a series of challenges, and we’re starting to feel as if we sound like a broken record.  It is important to remember that at times like these our friends sincerely want to be there for us whenever they can.  We can always check with them to make sure it’s a good time for them before we start talking, and if it’s not a good time, we can call back at another time, or call another friend.      



  We know for ourselves that when we have a good friend, we don’t want them to suffer alone when we are just a phone call away.  We want them to call us and share their sorrows with us, as well as their joys, because this is what sharing a life through friendship is about.  It is at our lowest points that we really need to rely on our friends without worrying that we are a burden.  If you are feeling self-conscious about having a tough time, you can bring this fact into the conversation by acknowledging it.  Chances are your friend will reassure you that she is happy to be there for you. In fact, rather than feeling taxed, most of us feel better when we have helped a friend simply by listening empathically while they share their feelings. 


Without our friends, we would be hard pressed to get through the tough times and celebrate the good ones.  If we leave our friends out of our process when the going gets tough, our friendships can begin to feel shallow.  On the other hand, when we include our friends in the full story of our life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—we build authentic relationships in which we can be who we truly are.  When we do this, we invite our friends to bring their whole selves to the relationship as well.

It’s a win-win situation, one which I personally trust will last a long time.  Please take this advice and call on your friends for help.  They want and need you to, as much as you need to have them. 




Have Courage and Speak Up


Wanted to share something important about whether to speak your mind about a wrong done to you or hold it in as some sort of sacrifice. 


After I went biking I noticed my neighbor, Assistant Chief of Police Luke, tending to his lawn.  He said hello so I stopped to talk with him.  He shook my hand offering his condolences about my husband’s suicide.  He asked how I was doing and if there was anything at all he could do, just let him know and not to feel shy in the least.  That was so very nice of him. 


So at that point, I mustered my courage and told him about the officers who arrived at the scene when I called 911 for my Martin when I found him.  It was the worst day of my entire life just finding him that way.  The police who arrived had been absolutely awful to me – treating me like I was guilty and yelling at me to get out and so on.  The Assistant Chief was appalled and said he will be looking into who went there that night.  He offered that this behavior is definitely NOT what his officers are supposed to present to us as victims.  He also wants me to talk with their supervisor.  And he asked if anyone ever got in touch with me back then from the department.  When I said no, he vowed to have their victim’s advocate get in touch with me.  That’s what should have happened 5 1/2 months ago.  Glad I told him he said.  Me too.  Although I cried, I felt good that because of me, perhaps other victims will not have to suffer the disrespect and pain I endured. 


Just thought I’d share with you out there, so that some day if you are thinking and wavering on whether you should act upon a wrong similar to this, you too will remember this story and have the courage to just open your mouth and speak up! 


Thanks for listening.  And please feel free to share this information.  I tend to believe that since it is a sincere and heartfelt story, it could do good for someone we may not realize needs to hear it!




Be Good to Yourself

First the overwhelming statistics of depression and suicide. 

  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).
  • About 15% of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime.  30% of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses.  Between 80% and 90% of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.  But first, depression has to be recognized. 


Since my husband’s completion of suicide, I’ve realized that I had no choice and no control over the suicide, but I do have a choice to survive and live through it.  It may be the hardest task I’ll ever have to perform, but I will survive! 

I have been learning and would like to share with you how to be good to yourself in this process.  When feelings are uncomfortable, it’s normal to want them to go away.  Trying to ignore emotional discomfort or distress is one way to do this.  This solution, however, is only temporary and will likely cause bigger problems later.  Just as it is best to care for a cold so it doesn’t turn into pneumonia, it is best to care for emotional distress before it creates bigger disruptions in your life. 

Self-nurturing happens normally when you love yourself.  Here are some ways you can express self-love. 

  • Trust your heart.  You know what you want and need. 
  • Put yourself first.  You cannot be there for anyone else unless you take care of yourself.
  • Let your feelings be known.  They are important.
  • Value your thoughts and let your opinions be known.
  • Let yourself feel anger.  Decide what you want to do.  Just feel it, express it, or take some action.
  • When you want something, ask.  You’ll be OK if they say no.  Asking is being true to yourself.
  • When harassing yourself, stop.  You do it when you need something.  Figure out what you need and get it. 
  • When you feel harried, slow down.  Slow breathing and take deep breaths.  Slow speech and movements.
  • Feel like crying and it’s not a safe place to cry?  Promise yourself a good cry later.  Keep your promise!
  • When somebody gives you a gift, say “thank you.”  That’s all you need to do.  A gift is not an obligation.


Although most depressed people are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed.  Serious depression can be manifested in obvious sadness, but often it is rather expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from activities that had been enjoyable. 

There is no map on this path to healing.  It is the most painful of journeys – full of twists and turns, broken hearts and misunderstandings.  Small wonders appear on this path but we may be too sore or fragile to recognize them.  But, I am told, there will be a day when we can look back and know that they were there. 

We know and share loneliness, sorrow and questions.  We honor those we love who have been lost to suicide.  May the radiance and beauty of their lives never be defined by their deaths. 

Truth:  Survivors are the most courageous of people. 

Be well, be peaceful, be hopeful. 





Connections Make a Difference


   An African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”


The need to belong – to feel that you have people to turn to – is so basic and so critical to mental and physical health that some scientists put it right up there with thirst and hunger.  And just as we drink to quench our thirst or eat to soothe a growling stomach, we also can stave off isolation.  This idea was noted and inspired by Melinda Blau in her book, “Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don’t Seem to Matter…But Really Do.”

Those closest to us are familiar, satisfying, nourishing and dependable.  They enable us to survive.  But to thrive, we also need “consequential strangers.”  They are the casual relations you find in the other aisles of the social supermarket.  Your coworkers, neighbors, yoga instructor, pastor, gym buddies and the nice lady at the dry cleaners.  They all can introduce you to new ideas and novel experiences.

Interacting with a variety of people boosts your immune system and increases your chances of success.     

Studies also suggest that diverse social ties keep your mind sharp and might even help you live longer.  From each person we get something different:  inspiration, information, a unique bond, novelty or momentary companionship.

With consequential strangers, we’re often freer and more expressive than we are with family, where loved ones tend to typecast us.  We can stretch ourselves with acquaintances and move beyond familiar roles. 

By looking at the entourage of intimates and consequential strangers you’ve picked up as you’ve traveled through life, you begin to see your past and present through new eyes.  You notice that in small and great ways, all your relationships matter.  It helps you to know that you’re not alone.  And that to me is priceless!

Survivor Support Group & Living With Suicide


 One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste and the gaping hole in the fabric of one’s life.  There is no closure; there cannot be without answers.  I want to remember him all my life, vividly:  his laughter, the smell of his favorite coffee, his moments of joy, his humility and his integrity.”


If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you’re not alone.  Each year over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide – their devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.”  There are millions of survivors who, like us, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss. 

It can be so powerful to connect with other survivors.  And such a relief to be able to talk openly about the suicide with people who really understand.  I write this for a couple of reasons.  First, it helps me to heal by sharing my own personal grief.  Second, it is my aim to help others understand us and for those survivors of suicide, to begin to focus on themselves to heal and gain support. 

For so many survivors, a crucial part of their healing process is the support and sense of connection they feel through sharing their grief with other survivors.  The most common way this sharing occurs is through survivor support groups.  These groups provide a safe place where survivors can share their experiences and support each other. 

It is natural to feel a bit unsure about going to your first support group meeting.  In No Time to Say Goodbye, one facilitator explains what you can expect:

“We sit in a circle, with each person giving a brief introduction: first name, who was lost, when and how it happened.  I then ask the people who are attending for the first time to begin, because they usually have an urgent need to talk. The rest of the group reaches out to them by describing their own experiences and how they are feeling. The new people realize they are not alone with their nightmare. By comparing their situations with others, they also begin to understand that they don’t have a monopoly on pain.”

Some survivors attend a support group almost immediately, some wait for years; others attend for a year or two and then go only occasionally — on anniversaries, holidays, or particularly difficult days.  You may find it takes a few meetings before you begin to feel comfortable.  Or you may find that the group setting isn’t quite right for you, but can still be a useful way to meet one or two fellow survivors who become new, lifelong friends based on the common bond of understanding the pain and tragedy of suicide loss. 


We are each in charge of our own journey of healing.  May you always be traveling further.”