Monday, September 16, 2019

Peg Entwistle - DAY 16

Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle was a British stage and screen actress. She began her stage career in 1925, appearing in several Broadway productions. She appeared in only one film, Thirteen Women, which was released after her death.

Entwistle had a difficult childhood. She was estranged from her mother, and her father died when she was fourteen years old.
On September 16, 1932, just under ten years from her father's death, Entwistle gained notoriety when she died by suicide by jumping to her death from the "H" on the Hollywood sign. Peg Entwistle was twenty four years old when she died.

Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle 
February 4, 1908 – September 16, 1932

Sunday, September 15, 2019

And So I Wait - DAY 15

And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to me feet once again 
so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.

― Jack Canfield

For my fellow survivors of suicide loss, this is a reminder, and an important one.

There is no timetable for grief. There is no 'you've been doing this too long' about grieving. There is no 'you need to move on' that is applicable.

How long you grieve and when it is that you are ready to move forward, is up to you. No one else. No well meaning friend, no frustrated family member, no impatient employer. No one. You are the one who gets to decide when you are ready, and in what ways you are ready. No one else.

Sometimes, we get confused about what our grief is supposed to look like. Many of us have heard about Elizabeth Kubler Ross's five stages of grief. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think those stages should be renamed. I don't think they are stages at all. They are components. They are not linear. We do not move from one stage and toward another as if we have left the former stage permanently behind. That is not how it works. Sometimes we are angry one minute, then in denial the next minute and then we sit in acceptance. But then a few days/months/years later, you return to anger and depression.

Here is a graphic. The image on the left breaks down the stages of grief into subsets of stages. You move down into certain stages, until you are ready to begin climbing the road back to peace and total healing.

The image on the right however, is far more accurate in terms of my experience of grieving, and of the experience of many others.

On the WYG (What's Your Grief) website, in the article The Myth of the Grief Timeline, the author says this:

Grief is not a race with a start and finish line, it’s a labyrinth of twists and turns and dead ends. Grief is like trying to swim past the break in the ocean – you wade in but every once in a while a wave comes up and knocks you back a few feet. You’re still deeper than when you started, but not as deep as you were before the wave hit.

So please be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. And move through your own grief on your timeline, no one else's. Understand that all the components of grief take time.

And that is perfectly ok. The way you are grieving and the time you are taking to do it, is perfectly ok.

You are perfectly ok.

I promise.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Owning My Story - DAY 14

If we can share our story with someone who responds 
with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.
Brené Brown

I am a survivor of suicide loss. I have written about that. I am addict and alcoholic in recovery. I have written about that. I have an eating disorder. I have written about that, too.

But, until last year, I didn't write much about my own suicide attempts. Actually, I did do some writing in 2013, following my second and last attempt. I made some of that writing public, but within a month or two I removed the writing from public view.

I removed the writing for the same reason that I rarely write about my attempts now. I was ashamed. At that time, people contacted me and told me that they disagreed with my point of view, others contacted me and told me that I was being disrespectful toward my son by violating his privacy. Not that I was writing about him (I wasn't) but because he would undoubtedly be ashamed that his mother had attempted suicide. Out of respect for him (he was 16 at the time) I needed to hide the fact that I'd had an attempt. That is what I was told.

Every reluctance to write about my suicide attempts had been grounded in shame. The stigma in our culture is so strong. We are routinely told that those who attempt suicide are selfish, attention seeking, weak, sinners, inconsiderate, cruel, etc.. Those who die by suicide are taking their pain and without giving it a second thought, they are handing all that pain to someone else. That's what our society tells us.

Those who attempt suicide are everything that I don't want to be.

I can write about a lot of stigmatized issues that are close to home, but writing about my suicide attempts is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I am not alone in this. In Jamie Brickhouse's article Overcoming The Shame of a Suicide Attempt (New York Times, May 2016), he says:

"As a recovering alcoholic I know that admitting to my behavior and owning my story is the only way it can no longer own me. I’m not ashamed of being an alcoholic, but I’m still ashamed of trying to kill myself."

For me, despite having feelings that were similar to Jamie Brickhouse's, there was a point about a year and a half ago, when I knew it was time to share my personal story. I was knee deep in suicide prevention advocacy, and I regularly bemoaned the stigma that deterred people from reaching out for help. But that wasn't my primary reason for talking about my own attempts. I was frequently exposed to people who were angry at those who'd taken their life. But, that wasn't my reason for talking about my own attempts, either.

I decided to write about my experiences with being suicidal, because in my suicide loss survivors groups, I kept hearing people say: "How could they leave me like this? Why wasn't I enough? Why weren't our children enough? How could they not have told me what they were planning to do?" These questions were agonizing for the people who were posing them.

I wrote about my attempts because people who didn't understand the complexity of  suicidality were in excruciating pain. And by and large, this pain reflected a general misunderstanding of what it is like to be suicidal. I wrote about my attempts because my fellow survivors of suicide loss, who were already in so much pain, exacerbated their grief by tormenting themselves over the possible answers to their questions. And I knew, most of the questions didn't actually apply to the circumstances under which a person loses their life to suicide. I knew I wasn't going to speak for all who have attempted suicide, but I also knew I was speaking for an awful lot of us.

I wrote about my attempts with the great hope that my story might help someone else who was suffering.

So today I will share my story again. It's long. (I'm 'wordy' as someone once told me.) But, it is thorough. Others have told me that my story was very helpful as they processed their loss. I am so glad. If you would like to read what I wrote, simply click on the picture below:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Feel Free To Share - DAY 13

Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.

― Ursula K. Le Guin

Periodically, Lighting Up the Sky will share quotes, on our Beauty of Grief feature.  Many times I have been asked by readers if they can copy the graphic and use it as a meme on their social media or for other purposes. The answer is yes! Please do share. Here are copies of all of those quote images. Please feel free to copy and share any of them.

(If you have a favorite quote that is related to grief, loss, healing, or support, and you would like it to be included as a future Beauty of Grief post, leave the quote in the comments below.)

Quotes about healing:

Quotes about grieving:

Quotes about loss:

Quotes about supporting one another:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

George Washington Maher - DAY 12

George Washington Maher was an American architect during the first-quarter of the 20th century. He is considered part of the Prairie School-style and was known for blending traditional architecture with the Arts & Crafts-style.
Maher was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1916. During his lifetime, Maher designed over 270 projects; from houses to parks to public buildings. 
Maher suffered from frequent bouts of depression and was hospitalized for this reason from 1924 -1925. On September 12, 1926, George Washington Maher died by suicide. He was 61 years old.

George Washington Maher
December 25, 1864 – September 12, 1926

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Purpose - DAY 11

Place your hand over your heart. 
Can you feel it? 
That's called purpose. 
You're alive for a reason, so don't ever give up.
- Joyce Meyer

If you are considering suicide
please remember you are needed in this world.


If you have a plan and the means to carry it out, and feel that your life is in danger - call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, immediately. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, there is help available, 24 hours a day, every single day. Reaching out is is the brave thing to do. Your voice matters and there are people waiting to talk to you.

Asking for help is an act of courage and it may be one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself, your friends, and your loved ones.


Other resources:

Thank you to the International Bipolar Foundation for their list of worldwide crisis/suicide prevention hotlines.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

World Suicide Prevention Day - 2019 - DAY 10

Reach out to someone today.

If you are worried about someone who struggles with mental illness or suicidal thoughts, contact them and tell them that they are important to you. Let them know that their life matters.

If you know a friend or family member who has survived a suicide attempt, reach out to them and let them know how glad you are that they are alive.

If you know a friend or family member who is enduring the loss of someone they love to suicide, reach out to them and let them know that you care about their pain and that you are there to listen, if they need to talk. And then be there, if they do want to talk.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Reach out to someone. And be there.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Philip Loeb - DAY NINE

Philip Loeb was an American stage, film, and television actorHe worked in a number of plays throughout the decade.
In 1948, Loeb portrayed the role of Jake Goldberg on Broadway in Gertrude Berg's play Me and Molly which was based on Berg's long-running radio show The Goldbergs. After the play, he reprised the role on the television adaptation of The Goldbergs on CBS. 

In June 1950, Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television, named Loeb as a Communist. Loeb denied being a Communist, but the sponsors of The GoldbergsGeneral Foods, insisted that he be dropped from the show's cast. Berg refused to fire Loeb, but Loeb soon resigned.

He was blacklisted under McCarthyism. Loeb was described a going into a major depression as a result of the blacklisting.

Philip Loeb died by suicide on September 1, 1955. He was 64 years old.

Philip Loeb
March 28, 1891 – September 1, 1955

Sunday, September 8, 2019

World Suicide Prevention Week - Sept. 8 - September 15 - DAY EIGHT

What is one of the most important components of effective suicide prevention? Educating yourself. Read, research, and learn how to have the conversations that will begin to save lives.

You can find lots of links to suicide related organizations and resources, here on the Lighting Up the Sky blog, by clicking on the image below.

*If you know of a link that should be included, please leave a comment here!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

End Stigma Now - DAY SEVEN

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular 
circumstance, quality, or person.


Learn to pronounce
A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Today, the seventh day of Suicide Prevention month, I want to offer a reminder that stigma has a profound impact on mental illness and suicide.

In the Forbes article The Rise and Rise of Suicide: We Must Remove the Stigma of Mental Illness, author Margie Warrell says this about stigma's effect on suicide prevention efforts:

Fear of social rejection, ridicule, discrimination and judgement often keep people from sharing their struggle. While we may not all suffer from mental illness, we each have a role to play in ensuring that those who do suffer feel less afraid to reach out and get the support they need in the moments when they need it most. If people felt as comfortable talking about their PTSD, bipolar or anxiety as they did talking about their eczema or tennis elbow, it would markedly reduce the suffering of those those with mental illness and the ability of those around them to support them.

There is more. The truth is, stigma is a barrier to critically needed research. This research has the potential to identify more effective treatments and even cures for mental illness. The need to remove this barrier is urgent. Mental illness is potentially fatal. Until we eliminate stigma, the many incorrect and negative assumptions about mental illness will remain. These assumptions contribute to the lack of a prioritization of funding, a lack of resources, and a lack of effective treatment.

Reducing stigma has been a constant goal of this blog. Over the past two years, there have been several posts that have a significant focus on reducing stigma. Among these posts are a poem by a fellow survivor of suicide loss, articles about CTE and Traumatic Brain Injury, interviews with other experts in the field of mental illness, and my own personal essays, including What I Want to Offer, an essay about my experience of being a suicide attempt survivor.

I urge you to help dismantle the stigma around mental illness and suicide. Your voice will make a difference. The first step is to educate yourself. Read about mental illness and suicide, Talk to people about the ways in which mental illness and suicide have touched their lives. Make an intentional effort to humanize the mentally ill and those who have lost their lives to suicide, as well as those who have survived a suicide attempt. And when you hear anyone misrepresenting these topics or sharing their negative views of those who are dealing with these issues, speak up and correct the misconceptions.

In order to work towards effective suicide prevention, we must end stigma.
And, as with all suicide prevention efforts, we must begin now.