Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Love You

It was a long day yesterday, for me anyway.  After friends left the house, I cleaned up dishes and wiped down the counters, Jackson and I had a chance to sit down together and just flip on the television for a few minutes before bed.  The TV was on one of the Charlotte channels and there was the news.  We were watching the riots in downtown Charlotte.  It was scary and I was amazed to see so many young people, screaming, running, vandalizing, scared and hurting.  We just kind of sat in silence, grateful that our boys were safe at home.  After watching for a bit and checking in with friends who have family in the Charlotte area, we decided to head on to bed.  I, as usual, made another quick round in the kitchen, clearing any dishes, and turning out the light.  I peeked my head into the living room as I do every night and said good night to the boys and as usual I said "I love you".

Now Jackson isn't an "I love you" kind of guy.  He will say it in response to me, as I say "I love you" frequently to my family.  But he is not the kind of guy to tell his boys that he loves them, or me for that matter.  But last night, he followed behind me and peeked his head into the living room and also said "good night boys, I love you."  So he was feeling it too, the emotional pull of being with family.  And we headed to bed.  Thinking about all those people out in the streets of Charlotte.

A friend said it well this morning while we were chatting.  She said (and these are not her exact words) that those people belong to someone.  Those young men and women, they belong to someone.  Those police officers, they belong to someone.  No one is here on this earth completely alone, there is someone in this world that knows them, cares about them.  So remember that when you meet people on the street as you go about your day.  That person belongs to someone, just as your child belongs to someone.  Let's treat each other as if that were our "someone".

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

This was my mother's favorite hymn.  Gosh she couldn't carry a tune at all, but she would always sing in church, in the car, around the house.  I can just picture her smiling and singing now. And she loved this hymn, she loved Sundays when Ronald Dolloff would sing this as a solo in church.  He sang this song at her funeral.

I was driving to the gym yesterday and somehow it hit me, I don't know why.  I can't remember now if a bird flew over the road or what it was but I started thinking about this song and about my mom.  For some reason I couldn't remember the words to the song.  I have spent enough hours in church growing up, and in the choir as a young adult that I know most hymns by heart.  And generally I can recall this song, when I think of my mom.  But yesterday I couldn't.  That brought me to tears.  It felt in my heart like I was forgetting pieces of her.  That felt so wrong.  I want to remember every single bit of my mom.

So I came home and found the song on youtube.  No, it isn't Ronnie Dolloff singing, so the same memories are not the same.  But it helped me remember the words.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Overload

This has been a busy week, with meetings and get togethers, and I am exhausted.  Yesterday was the straw. I could feel it coming on yesterday afternoon, and sat in the backyard in the sun looking out over the pasture and the mountains in the background, knitting, for a while.  That helped.

I had decided to attend a workshop hosted at the local Food Matters market.  They have such a lovely space there. I thought it looked interesting and would give me an opportunity to get out of my shell a bit.  It was somewhat informative, the topic was digestive health.

Before the event someone was asking, online, for a ride and really I was going almost right past her house to get to Food Matters.  So, even though I didn't know this person, I decided to do something I normally wouldn't, and give her a ride.  Well I don't wear much perfume if any, sometimes I wear a little, but not much.  And she, well she was covered in perfume.

We get to the event and of course the seats that remain are in the front and this woman sat right next to me. During the lecture the perfume was really getting to me, and my head started pounding.  I was sitting in the front so already uncomfortable to begin with.  (Don't people know the seats by the door are reserved for us introverts. If you want to interject your own thoughts all during the lecture, sit in the front.)  I couldn't escape easily, without everyone looking at me (introvert nightmare).  So I sat there for an hour, smelling that perfume, wanting to just cry and run out of the room.

I think with all the social things I did this week, this lecture was just one too many.  I came home and just cried for a few minutes.  I felt disconnected from my family, I think I spent too much time outside the house in the evenings.  All evening I could smell that perfume, changing my clothes didn't help.  My car now smells like that perfume.  I need this coming weekend to recoup, and air out my car and just connect with my family, spend time in my garden, knit.  Be within my comfort zone for a while. No more "new things" for this introvert for a little while.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Oh What a Week!

Last week was National Suicide Prevention week.  Yes, I know, before this year I did not know there was a National Suicide Prevention week, I didn't realize how many people lose their lives to suicide each year. Even though my life has been touched by suicide I really went through it alone, for years.  This last week was just full of emotions as I tried to blog and share items on facebook important to understanding and preventing suicide.  I cried, I remembered, I laughed, I shared stories of my father and of my experience.

I am glad I found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  In reading about them, this is an organization that works to understand suicide and prevention, and lobbies for understanding of mental health as equally important in complete health care as physical health.  In harvesting important mental healthcare legislation, just think of other issues that will be lifted up along with suicide prevention.  They support suicide loss survivors as well as suicide survivors.  Just amazing work, on a critical issue.

I am going to post this again here as well as post it on my facebook page from time to time until the walk begins.  My family and I are walking Out of the Darkness, in Asheville, North Carolina.  We are raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I am asking all of my friends to really look into your hearts and give what you can toward this goal.  Click here to be taken to our page, donating is easy.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Pam


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Shame of Suicide Loss

There is a lot of shame associated with losing a loved one to suicide.  I know, I have lived it.  I personally chose not to feel ashamed, but the societal pressure is there.  I know when I lost my dad to suicide, people did not know what to say.  No one knew how to say it.

For my mother, who was killed in a car crash a year and a half prior to my father's death, there were so many cards of condolence, there was food overflowing, people stopping by to say how sorry they were, lots of hugs and sorrow.  But for my father, there wasn't a whole lot of that.  The funeral was packed, he was a loved man, but no one knew how to say they were sorry so no one said anything, or I should say very few. There was no food brought to the house, no one stopped in to make sure we were doing OK.  There is a certain stigma attached to suicide, something that just isn't talked about.

But for me the feelings of losing a parent were the same.  Car accident, suicide, it all felt the same in my heart.  It hurt. He could have died any other way and it would have felt the same, there would be that piece missing, that hole, the empty feeling.  It was raw, it was emotional and I felt like, other than immediate family, I was alone.  And I wasn't supposed to talk about it.

I want everyone to know that if you know someone touched by suicide, it hurts.  Just say you are sorry for their loss.  Reach out.  For the suicide loss survivor, know that your feelings are valid, and it is OK to talk about it.  For me, I knew why my father was in such a deep depression, but for many they will never know. I can't imagine how hard it is to not know, to wonder why, to be angry.  I know that I get angry at my father everyone once in a while.  For leaving me, for leaving my children without a grandparent.  I live in that moment and it passes.  But I feel it.

I don't know why we have such a stigma about depression, mental health, and suicide. Maybe if we weren't afraid to shed the light on these tough subjects we could figure out better, more productive ways forward. Maybe it would be easier for people to ask for the help they need.  Maybe it would have been easier for my father to ask for help.

The answers aren't there yet, but if we talk about it, maybe they will be.  So I encourage everyone to talk about it.  If you have a story, share it.  Speak about it, speak it to the Universe.

There are suggestions for suicide loss survivors, here.

And here are some suggestions if you know a suicide loss survivor.  Please don't let them grieve alone.  It hurts, and talking about it doesn't make it worse, it won't make them consider suicide.  Open that door and reach out, you never know what someone needs until you ask.

And if you don't know already, my family and I are going to walk Out of the Darkness.  This is a walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  A great organization that works legislatively on mental health care issues as well as education on suicide prevention.  Please donate what you can.  Any amount will help us reach our goal. Just click the tab below to donate.

 Donate Here



Monday, September 5, 2016

Suicide in the Family

I am a suicide loss survivor.  I lost my father to suicide many years ago, on 31 October, 1996.  I can remember that day, and I think I have blogged about this before.  It was such a combination of emotions.  I remember we lived in Germany at the time, we were handing out candy in our housing community to mostly German children experiencing our tradition of Halloween for probably the first time.  They loved it and it was so joyful watching them be so joyful.  Then my brother called and just said "they found Buddy".  I knew instantly what he meant. I knew that my dad had been struggling with depression since my mother had died about a year and a half earlier.

I had tried so many things to get him help, even had him come live with us in Germany for a while, but he missed home, he missed her.  I remember my brother Jeff, telling me how Dad was found by a runner.  Well a runner was going by the house, and on the return trip noticed that my dad's car was still running in the garage, so he called the police.  That is how my dad took his life, he hooked up a hose from the exhaust of the car and ran the other end through the window and sat there.  I wish I didn't have that memory, the memory of that phone call, but I do.

Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Here are some more statistics:
-On average there are 117 suicide deaths per day
-Firearms account for almost 50% of suicide deaths
-Men die by suicide 3.5X more often than women

You can read these and more facts on the suicide statistics page of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I can't imagine my dad's misery, I know that my mother was his life, he loved her dearly.  Having her taken from him so suddenly just gutted his existence.  So today, in honor of suicide prevention week, I honor my father and his struggle.  The struggle of so many.

Here's to you Dad! I love you!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Burke County NC Moms Rising Meet Up


Have you ever wished that our elected leaders really understood the challenges families face?  Ever wanted to know more about how you can make your voice heard and improve the lives of families in our country? Would you like to meet others in your community who want to make a difference?  You can do ALL THREE of these at the same time! Come join Moms Rising for our first ever Burke County NC meet up on September 13.

What: Moms Rising Meet up
When: Tuesday, September 13, 2016, from 6 PM-7 PM
Where: Morganton Food Matters Market, Community Room, 210 Avery Ave, Morganton, NC
RSVP: Beth@momsrising.org

MomsRising has over a million members nationwide, and nearly 41,000 right here in North Carolina, including other folks in Burke County. 

While it's great (and powerful!) to come together online, sometimes you just want to have the chance to get to know each other in person and talk about the issues affecting families in your own community. 

We at Moms Rising want to hear about your experiences and concerns and share with you ways you can get involved right in your own community. This will be a fun, informal evening all about making new connections.  All you have to do is come!

We'll provide the appetizers, but you are also welcome to purchase dinner! As with everything Moms Rising does, you don't have to be a mom to attend and kids are always welcome. (We'll have crafts to keep them busy and happy!) The more the merrier, so invite your friends and neighbors!

RSVP, or for more information, to Beth@Momsrising.org

This is the first Moms Rising Burke County MeetUp.  We want you to share your experiences and learn more about the work of Moms Rising. Together we're making a big difference in North Carolina and nationwide, and we'd love to connect with you about getting involved in your local community. RSVP to Beth@momsrising.org