I have worked with clients who have been suicidal. I have worked with clients who have had to endure the loss of loved ones to suicide. I have felt the raw emotions on both sides. Yet none of that prepared me for the loss of someone I called my friend, someone I laughed with (her smile and twinkling eyes were captivating), someone I planned my son’s pirate Birthday party with (she was an amazing party planner), someone who lent me a dress to wear for an Anniversary dinner with my husband (she had fabulous style). Although we had not connected in many years, the news of her passing was like a gut punch. It took my breath away. It was like I could feel the pain and suffering she must have endured, and it tore my heart open. 

It took some time to understand my own intense emotions. After all, we had come to be more acquaintances than close friends. I realized that was the issue. How could I bridge the gap between the vibrant woman I remember and this final and ultimate expression of pain and despair? 

The answer is what troubled and comforted me at the same time. Life is so ever-changing, and we are, in truth, incredibly fragile beings. We are all, in fact, vulnerable to those same depths of despair given the right set of life circumstances. Yes, humanity is filled with pain and suffering in any given moment (the troubling part), but we are all in it together essentially (the comforting part). 

Suicidal individuals feel so alone. Yet they are not. Collectively, however, we do not do near enough to communicate a message of unity and shared humanity, and we often do the opposite. We pathologize. We diagnose. We give drugs. We send those in danger to locked units in hospitals. I am not saying any of this is not well-intentioned or necessary at times, but I also know these responses can feel dehumanizing and can cause even more shame and a sense of aloneness and separateness in those already suffering. What if all of us instead accepted the truth of our humanity and more openly shared and confided our pain and despair to each other? What if it was normal and acceptable to struggle and feel completely hopeless at times? Could that connection, those shared experiences, and the realization that NO ONE is alone make a difference? I believe so.

We are all truly just walking each other home. My hope is we do so with as much love, compassion, and humanity as possible.                                                                                                                                                    

In loving memory of a beautiful and tender soul.