When I was in fourth grade, I experienced the loss of a relative for the first time (or at let the first one I remember). I was 9 years old.
(Note: as I’m thinking about it…it might’ve been second grade…my memory from that far back has long-since faded with that level of detail.)My parents drove us to my grandma’s apartment one night. It was odd, but I didn’t think much about it. I mean, we were just going to Grandma’s. I had no reason to think it was anything other than a normal dinner with Grandma. We arrived and the feeling in the air was something I didn’t know how to process. Our parents pulled us back to one of the bedrooms shortly after we arrived. I was so confused. My family was obviously upset about something but I had no idea what was about to happen.
That night was the first time I ever saw my dad cry (and there haven’t been many times since).
He told us that my uncle was no longer with us. Then followed the added blow that he had ended his own life. Y’all, this was soul-crushing to a young girl – and to my family as a whole, I’m sure. I was too young to even attempt to grasp what might lead someone to do this, to feel that this was the only solution. To this day, I don’t know his reasoning, nor does it matter. I wish that mental health wasn’t a taboo subject 30 years ago. I wish that mental health didn’t come with stigmas, even today. I wish he had reached out to someone.
What I do know is that I can’t even write this without tearing up. What I do know is that suicide impacts families long past the funeral. Even 30 years later, it is still difficult for my family to talk about.
I remember crying during school for days following the news. I remember crying myself to sleep many nights, asking God “why?”
My cousins lost their father. Their children will never know their grandfather. My dad lost a brother. My grandma lost a son. Our family has been affected for the last three decades in big and small ways.
I don’t remember my uncle very well. I can tell you who he is in pictures, but I can’t tell you who he was as a person. I was too young to remember.
Many in my family struggle with depression and anxiety. Most don’t talk about it (or at least not with much depth). I hope they’re talking to someone. I hope they know it’s ok to not be ok, but that help is available.
I make no secret that it’s something I personally struggle with. I have people I talk to. I take pharmaceuticals to help. I know when to seek professional help.
I am not ashamed of my struggles with mental health. But so many people are.
I have been through times in my life where I have prayed for God to just take me home. I’m so grateful that He knew it wasn’t my time. Because of experiencing the tragedy of suicide as a young girl, I knew all too well that it wasn’t a solution. It doesn’t fix anything. It causes so much heartbreak. It didn’t stop my desire to be removed from the pain of this world, but I knew that God would need to be the one to end things. I am grateful that God placed people in my life to lift me up out of those depths of despair and that I am in such a better place now.
I have been personally affected by suicide. I pray my children never have to experience losing someone they care about this way.
That’s why I am so very proud of the September Color Street Foundation awareness polish which is launching tomorrow, August 29th, 2019.
We are partnering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which funds scientific research, offers educational programs for mental health professionals, educates the public regarding mood disorders and suicide prevention, promotes policies and legislation that aligns with their mission, and provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and at-risk individuals.
We are honored to contribute $2 from the sale of each set of Open Hearts through the month of September to the AFSP in their mission to reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2025.
I would love if you would consider purchasing one of these strips in support of this very-needed organization.
~ The Blended Mama ~
If you or someone you know is in crisis, we encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.