Stunned, numb, disconnected, lost in darkness. absent from one’s body. How can anyone who has been shattered by suicide even connect with themselves let alone all the beauty, excitement and happiness of the holidays? Drained. Unable to do more than the basics of hygiene, eating and sleeping, the tasks of working, caring for children and/or aging parents, paying bills, and cleaning are DAUNTING. Pile on the Holiday shopping, decorating, baking and parties and one simply longs to crawl into a dark cave. I know that feeling. The first Christmas after my brother Mark’s death by suicide, I hosted the family Christmas gathering. My grieving parents, Mark’s three children, my brother, Alan and his son and daughter joined my husband and sons. Although I managed to decorate with the boys, shop and wrap the family gifts, I simply could not get it together to even make the traditional Christmas cookie dough so we could gather to bake and decorate our usual Christmas trees, reindeer and bells. I went AWOL from my role as “Martha Stewart”. Absent, Withdrawn, Overloaded and Lonely equals AWOL. This military terms stands for Absent With Out Leave- Absent from one’s post but Without intent to desert. I had no intent to disappoint the children. I had no intent to desert this beloved holiday tradition. I simply had no energy left. My battery was drained. I felt I was a ship drifting hopelessly on a dark sea. I was disconnected – lost and alone. Where was the lighthouse to shine in my darkness? That person who was the light of reason to say ”Enough”! To tell me it was Reasonable, Responsible and Rationale to: “Ask for help!!” I needed someone who understood that grief as a survivor of suicide is different than other grief. There was no “good-bye” as there would be in two and a half years when Mother died of a brain tumor. There was powerlessness and the despair of knowing “You can’t stop a tornado”. No one to tell me “YOU did No-Thing wrong.” To each of you reading this who IS or KNOWS someone who is grieving this holiday season as a Suicide Survivor, I am saying “Enough”. As a Suicide Survivor remember: Choice is your birthright. I KNOW it is hard to choose when you can’t think straight. So Now What? Here are two simple choices:
  1. Make a list of what MUST be done. What YOU have no intent to desert.
  2. CALL, text or email each of those people who said “ Let me know what I can do.” Be specific…… “Please mix up and bring sugar cookie dough. Please buy X,Y,Z and I will write you a check when you deliver the gifts, etc.”
As a reader who KNOWS someone who is grieving this holiday season as a Suicide Survivor pick up the phone and call or text to say “What may I do now to support you to prepare for and be in the holidays?” Your Presence matters.

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