I can’t tell you how pleased am I am to have Eileen on my blog today. I met Eileen when I won the Mom Central Blog Grant, and we connected immediately. Her kindness and openness was so apparent right from the start. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her in real life at BlogHer and she did not disappoint. We had a very meaningful conversation about mental health and suicide, her dad and my friends, which was so special to me. So I’m very glad to share her words with you today during Suicide Prevention Week. Also check out her post from today where she talks more about her Dad and her inspiration for writing this post http://calandroclan.com/2011/
P.S. As of 10:17pm PST Thursday night we have raised $1,600 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I will be dyeing my hair BLUE tomorrow/Friday at 11am PST. Keep your eyes peeled for photos and maybe even a special video blog on World Suicide Prevention Day Saturday. xo
Writing about my Dad creates a challenge for me. I’ve posted on my personal blog twice about him, created a philanthropic idea in his honor (I call it Pledge-A-Post), and I still get caught up in figuring out what I want to say. And when I should say it. I don’t want to over-share or create a sob-story that generates pity for myself.
I worry about dishonoring him with my words. I want my words to make a difference. I want to be heard. I want others to seek the help they need after reading what it felt like to lose my Dad. I don’t want people to feel alone in suffering or grieving.
When I finally get my words out, my confusion goes away. I find that when I stop being quiet and start talking (writing), I find others who grieve like I do -and did.
My father died by suicide a month before my twenty-first birthday, the day after my sister’s birthday. What horrid timing. (Would there ever be a good time?) Now my sister’s birthday is always The Day Before. We try not to talk about it, but the date on the calendar never goes away.
I’m now forty-three. If my Dad was around, he would rejoice in my accomplishments and in my family. I know my Dad would love to talk with me about my career and hear what I do for a living. He would marvel at my boys -their energy, joy of life, their abilities and talents.
I miss him.
But he couldn’t look into a crystal ball and see how things would be. He faced April 12, 1989 and decided he didn’t want to see the 13th. Or fourteenth. Or my twenty-first birthday. Or my wedding day. Or the birth of his first grandchild. He didn’t look forward to those days. He only saw his debt and his failures; he only felt his pain. He couldn’t get past those things to see another day.
With this being Suicide Prevention Week, I hesitated, once again, when faced with writing about my Dad. I don’t know how to prevent anyone from committing suicide. Obviously. If I did, my Dad would still be here. All I know is how it felt when I got that call and how it still feels when someone makes an idle comment, “It makes me want to kill myself.” Or “I wanted to put a bullet in my head.”
I hate comments like that. It’s taken years for me to only flinch on the inside when someone says them. I know I used to flinch on the outside.
This week, and also for the weeks to come, can we please stop with those comments? People actually do get the point where they want to kill themselves. They do put bullets in their heads. And the people who are left feel confused, isolated, grief, and sorrow.
Why do they kill themselves? Maybe people who commit suicide don’t want to see another day. Maybe they decide they’ve had enough, or that things would be better off without them. Maybe they seek revenge and they, most likely, feel desperation.
I don’t know.
I just know I miss my Dad and wish he had realized he was worth effort and solutions and love. He suffered from mental illness and a childhood of abuse. He self-medicated with alcohol. Maybe he didn’t think he was worthy of a joyous life, but I thought he was. After all, he gave me mine.
I honor my Dad every day by making healthy choices for myself, raising healthy boys, and making sure my marriage is filled with support and love. I work to help others feel loved and important. I work to encourage others to seek the help they need. I don’t want people to feel alone in suffering or grieving. I want my words to make a difference.
Blessings to you and yours this week and always. Survivors are not alone in our grief and if you are considering suicide, you are not alone in your suffering. Seek help. Find solutions. You deserve it.