This post is expanded from some musings that I put on Twitter earlier, some conversations I’ve been having on Facebook, and thoughts that have been bouncing around my head. Content warning for frank discussion of suicide and grief, and other things.
A list of suicide crisis lines better than any one I could put together can be found here on Wikipedia. Not only are there phone numbers, but there are internet based text chat support, and there are text lines. If you’re hurting, please reach out to someone, be it a help line, a therapist, a friend, or a family member.
(And by the way, if you’re my mother? Please do NOT read this post. I’ve included a read more tag to make it really easy to skip over.)
It’s been nearly nine years to the day since one of my high school friends— one of the people I was closest to for years at the hardest point in my life who supported me through up and down, thick and thin— took his own life. Someone who, as far as well all knew, was outwardly happy, joyous, full of life and full of enthusiasm for the next challenge and adventure. I talked to him on Friday afternoon before Shabbat started, and on Sunday morning I got the calls from friends and from faculty members at the high school we attended that I couldn’t believe. I lashed out and responded with hate and anger and spiraled downward for a long time.
His suicide shook me, my friends, and our community to the core. And since then, I firmly believe that one of the things that we need the most is a judgment free, safe space to talk about mental health, and yes, about suicide. That maybe if we had had that sort of space and attitude and environment nine years ago the world would be a little better, a little brighter today.
For all of my adult life, May has been a difficult month for me. It is a month full of loss, and full of grief, and at the same time it is the point at which I most remember that I need to live and keep living. Even when it’s hard. Not because that’s what someone else would have wanted me to do, though. But because it is what I need to do for me. I’m doing okay now, more or less, with a lot of help and support from my friends both online and offline. Even when I’m not doing okay, I’m still doing a lot better than I used to be.
It is also the time of year where I remember that nobody has a monopoly on grief. We all grieve differently, and there are always many, many people who are affected; it’s not just immediate family and immediate friends. Moreover, grief and grieving look different for each individual. Right now for me it was spending the morning out and about, continuing to go on with my life. Right now for me it’s curling up on the couch in the afternoon with a blanket and the cat and watching Star Trek. Tomorrow it might look different, and it might look different again the day after that.
It’s knowing that it is okay to still be grieving, even nine years later.