Saturday, November 21, 2020

Grateful for the Ocean


My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; 

I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean.

- Anne Lamott

Every year, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day takes place on the Saturday before the (U.S.) Thanksging holiday. For some, the timing of the event might seem odd. But for many of us who have suffered a loss, it makes sense.

As we move toward a holiday that encourages an entire country to express gratitude, suicide loss survivors often feel invisible. If we are new to our loss, we might feel as if we are expected to pretend that we are ok, when we don't feel ok. However, Suicide Loss Survivors Day allows us to express our feelings, just as they are. Perhaps more than anything, the day reminds us that we are not alone. Infact, feeling connected to others who share this type of loss serves as one of the most important foundations of gratitude.

So, I decided to ask fellow suicide loss survivors what they are grateful for this year.  I received responses from all over the world. I received facebook messages, texts, emails, and even handwritten notes. The words were varied and poignant. I am happy to share them with you now.

I am grateful that I am surrounded by people that I love and that they are aways there for me. ~ Gianna C., Oakley, California

I am grateful for my family, my dog, Eli, and all of the resources I have to help me at home to learn. ~ Emily C., Oakley, California 

I am grateful that my boys are no longer struggling and suffering, but I still wish they were here not struggling. But there is this thing called life, which is never perfect and everyone has struggles. I'm grateful that God has given me the graces to deal with the things I've had to deal with, and to be able to engage with people in this world. ~ Jo M., Brentwood, California 

This thanksgiving I am grateful for my wife and daughter, for helping to keep me out of the abyss after Peyton’s suicide. ~ David J., Conroe, Texas

I am grateful for my fur babies who bring me comfort when no one else can.  ~ Becky A., Jefferson, Georgia 

I wouldn't trade my time with my two loves, for anything. (One was a suicide, the other a heart attack). I am SO grateful for the time I was able to spend with each one. The things they taught me, too. I feel I have a greater love, even though losing them hurts, still. Even in their death, they have taught me so much. About life, grief, love and even myself. ~ Shalene T., Utah

I am grateful for the unconditional love of friends and family who give me incredible support and make me laugh! ~ Teresa C., Oakley California

I am grateful for my soul sister Heliana. She’s been there for me all the way for the past three years. I lost the love of my life, but I gained a sister.  ~ Martha B. , Weston, Florida

I'm grateful for my friends who continue to show up. I'm grateful for my cat who shows me love every day. ~ Tartine C., France, Europe

I am grateful for my beautiful family who are a blessing to me every day. ~ Pete C., Oakley, California

I am grateful for the love of God, and the strength He gives me each day to keep going after losing my son. ~ AnneMarie S., Santa Fe, New Mexico 

I’m grateful for my loving husband and my two dogs, Bennie and Luna. ~ Margie W., Alicante, Spain 

I am grateful for my Mum and partner. ~ Abbi W., Penworthan, United Kingdom

  • I'm grateful for the 21 years that we had with her. ~ Katie G., United States

I am grateful for a great, strong friend who has my back at every bad turn. ~ Hazel S., Chesterfield, United Kingdom

  • I am grateful for the memories I have of my son. When he was 5 and sat on Santa’s lap, he asked Santa to bring his mommy a special gift because she didn’t have a husband anymore. (Santa pulled me aside to tell me this.). I’m grateful for the heart shaped rock he found while on vacation with his dad and stepmom - he was 10. He saved the rock and brought it home to me as a token of his love. To this day, that rock goes everywhere I go. I’m grateful for the adult conversations we had and that he felt safe with me to share his innermost feelings. I’m grateful he shared his first heartbreak with me. I’m grateful for the times he visits me and guides me in the spirit. I’m grateful for every poem he ever wrote to me and every special drawing he made for me. I’m grateful that he thanked me for being his mom and taking good care of him. ~ Nancy VL., Dublin, Califonria

I am grateful for the memories we have is all I have left of him. ~ Teresa P., San Antonio, Texas

I am grateful for getting to be his happily ever after... He had a hard life, right from birth on. I'm grateful I got to show him true love and loyalty, before he left... Doesn't make it hurt any less...but I'm grateful that he got to know unconditional love before he returned 'home'. If that makes sense...  ~ Sharon E.V., Northern Ontario Canada

I am grateful for long conversations I got to have with my friend after meetings, and how he always reminded me what a good mom I am. ~ Victoria G., Walnut Creek, CA

I’m grateful for the path I’m on that has enabled me to feel like I am enough and that I’m worthy.... it’s been a long road. ~ Sheree GK., Carrollton, Ga.

I’m grateful for having the strength to endure this grief, for knowing that there would be a rainbow at the end of this tunnel. I didn’t have family support, but I did have friends support and for that I am truly grateful. I’m still trying to find myself, let’s just say I’m a work in progress and I’m good with that. I find that not playing the victim truly helps and knowing that it’s ok to have bad days, but to embrace the good days. And, I’m grateful for the special friends that I have made through my grief from losing Greg. ~ Debbie W., Camus, Washington

I am grateful for my kids. They have been the ones to keep me going when I have just wanted to give up. ~ Shelly H., Willow Springs, Missouri
I’m so grateful that John took the time to visit me whenever he was in my neighborhood. I was grateful for the opportunity to make lunch or a snack for him, and learn about some of the things that were important to him. I was also grateful for the chance to drive him to where we’d go for vacation on Cobb Mountain. That time was so precious because we connected on a different, more meaningful level. David had just passed, and John was still very young. He was filled with sadness, fears, and insecurities. My mom and I spent our time encouraging him to be more independent. We loved watching him gain enough confidence to interact with the other kids. ~ Mimi O., Chico, California
I am grateful that since the virus, I am learning to appreciate the little things; the most important things. I am grateful for the gift of family and the opportunity to show my love in new ways. ~ Grace M., Tea, South Dakota
I am grateful for my fiancĂ©, friends, family, and pets. A less common thing I'm greatful for is my Nintendo Switch, that little machine has kept me sane through the wild ride that this year has been. ~ Kerri S., Winston-Salem, North Carolina 

I am grateful for my family, friends, wonderful loving co-workers who are like family. ~Amanda CB., Mantua, New Jersey

I am so grateful for the years I got to spend with my partner and the relationship that formed with his daughter. ~ Clarissa B., York, South Carolina

I’m grateful for my overwhelming inner resilience to life’s difficulties. My willingness to fight the fight and to never give up; to stay in the game no matter what for as long as I’m able. Rather than focusing on only the stigma perceived by those who think they know something, knowing instead that mental illness runs rampant through society and the world, where people suffer silently unable to be reached by those with even the greatest of intentions. And I’m grateful that, as a result of chronic depression handed down to me from my mother, my unrelenting struggle with addiction, and the constant never-ending challenge to keep going even when I’m no longer really interested in doing so, I possess an inner truth and depth that constantly reveals both the beautiful and tragic elements of human nature, where nobody is above suffering no matter what one’s circumstances. I’m grateful to be one of those individuals with depth and connection with self and the spiritual. ~ Mike G., Pleasant Hill, California

I am grateful that I’ve learned to use the pain, loss, and grief to help others. ~ Laura C., New South Wales, Australia

I am thankful that when I think I am weak, I manage to overcome my insecurities and accomplish things that I thought I couldn't do on my own without him here, and I feel good about myself.
~ Susie W., Crowley, Texas

I'm grateful for the years I got to spend with my daddy, I'm especially grateful for the laughs we shared over the years.  ~ Breonna C., York, South Carolina

I am grateful for the honesty and bravery of my fellow survivors of suicide loss. Their courage inspires me every single day. ~ Chelise S., Concord, California