I am sharing something today that is painful to read, to think about, to remember. A client, Marilyn, has given me permission to share her story in the hopes that it might help someone else who is struggling to choose life. This post is for you and for those you love and who love you. Today, February 17th, 2017 marks the day just one year ago, when her husband chose to end his life by suicide. He left behind his wife and three boys who thought the world of their Dad. He was also a beloved middle school teacher. Here is Marilyn's story. May I just say thank you for allowing me to share it? Walking with you in this journey of grappling with the pain and healing is an honor and a privilege. You are a beautiful, strong woman of faith that I have grown to care for very much. I pray for continued healing for you and your boys.
In Christ, Susie
"Tomorrow would be Ray's 51st birthday and in two weeks it will be one year since he died which is really hard to believe! There are still so many unanswered questions. There are still so many emotions. I know that everyone who knew Ray was as shocked as we were. It's still so hard to grasp that he did what he did. My hope is to be transparent...to allow this tragedy to educate us all and to teach us to never minimize depression and anxiety. Ray was apparently in such an emotionally dark place that he truly believed he was doing us a favor by leaving us. He was unable to recognize this internal lie or to see the depths of the pain he would cause. I believe his intentions were never to hurt us...any of us! But he did hurt us...all of us. Yet there is much to be grateful for. We will always be thankful for Ray's life; his commitment to his family; his faith; the love, fun and laughter that he brought to our lives; and the years we had him. He will never be forgotten. His memories will always live on in so many positive ways. We are grateful for that and for him! But we will always wish his story had not ended like this. He had so much to live for! He made a decision that he made alone. We cannot take responsibility for his action. However, my hope is we will all be more aware and better equipped to recognize and help those in pain.
To anyone who might be considering suicide, please don't do it! Please get help. Tell someone! Call a family member, a friend, a pastor, a counselor, a hotline, someone, anyone! The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is no shame in admitting you are struggling with depression or with thoughts of suicide. There is no shame in asking for help!! Depression is real and awful but your life is worth fighting for!! There are many people who care!! Don't leave your family wondering why they weren't enough to keep you from choosing to leave them. It's devastating!
To those of us who don't struggle with depression, it is very difficult for us to imagine suicide as a thought let alone an option. Please know it is real and please reach out to anyone you see who might be struggling. Don't be afraid. Be bold! Ask THE question; put it on the table; offer to take them for an assessment or to the hospital. Ask what you can do to help.
Ray hid his intentions well. He did not want us to know his plans. He and I had many deep conversations about his struggles but he never let on he was suicidal. I know I could not have been any more supportive or encouraging than I was. Yet knowing now what I know, I would have been bolder in our discussions. I believed he was sharing everything. He wasn't.
My family will be processing this trauma and tragedy the rest of our lives. I chose to see Susie at Journey to Hope, a licensed Christian professional counselor to help me process through the pain, to get to a place of forgiveness, and to get to a healthy place again. It is through difficult work and God's grace that I am healing and will continue to heal. I have learned a lot including that it is impossible to get healthy if you attempt to avoid the pain.
I know this tragedy has touched many of you deeply as well and I hope and pray you are healing. Healing does not mean forgotten. It means coming to acceptance of what is and being in an emotionally healthy place.
I am thankful for all of the support that my family and I have had over this year. It has been tremendous! Thank you! We will forever be grateful to all of you. I hope sharing my journey is helpful to you. Sending love, hugs, prayers, and appreciation to each of you!"