Yesterday my family and I, although miles apart in physical proximity, lit a candle in each of our respective homes for my brother who passed away 7 months ago.
It just so happened to fall on World Suicide Prevention Day.
The past seven months for me personally have been a whirlwind. After he passed away, my life took a drastically different turn. And I’m beginning to see the ripple effect play out not just in my life, but in the lives of my loved ones, too.
We are starting to see the fragility and importance of life, because we were in the presence of someone who struggled so hard. Of course it hurt to see that.
Being a sibling to someone who died by suicide is a strange place to be in. It’s a real life tragedy, a fear that came to fruition. Of course I wonder, what if there was something I could have done to prevent it? There’s letters I wish I sent. Things I wish I said.
But now it’s over, and he’s really, actually, gone. Let me say that one more time: he is gone.
And when that reality hits me, it smacks me deep into my heart and pierces me like an internal lightening bolt living inside of me.
The questions linger each day and my mind creates all kinds of interesting interpretations about the whole thing.
Life is precious and we only get one shot, as far as we know. Death is a permanent choice, but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is, some of us do have it harder than others. Some of us get plagued with depression, some of us can barely go to the grocery store without having an anxiety attack. Some of us can’t get out of bed, and some of us just simply can not find a reason to live.
And then there are some of us out there who don’t have to face their demons every single day.
The demon of mental illness is the hardest, because it’s not something that can be solved overnight. There are so many factors that go into a person’s mental state.
But one simple thing we can do every single day is this: spread love.
Say to those struggling, “I have a feeling once you get through something like this, you’ll become a little bit more invincible.”
Say, “You have purpose. You can do this.”
Say, “I love you.”
Since my brother passed, I have decided to finally say YES to my own life which is something I was never brave enough to do before. Typically, I would find my identity in the eyes of others, but now I am ready to fully commit to myself.
Perhaps I can find beauty in the dark after all. And if I can, so can you.
[Background photo credit: Kira Reed, @kira.designs]