Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There is Always Hope

My dad has been gone for over eleven years now. We’ve all gotten used to the “new normal.” 
There are still days though when I wish he was around to do some things with us. Or to see how much one of my kids looks like him. Or to hold hands with my Miss Pretty Pretty. Boy would she have him wrapped around her little finger.
When my dad died, it wasn’t because he had a long drawn out battle with cancer, or because he suffered diabetes which slowly claimed his body over time. It wasn’t a stroke that surprised us or even a car accident which suddenly ripped him from our lives.
When my dad died it was because of suicide. I’m not going to tell you how he did it because you don’t need that visual in your mind any more than I ever did. It took a long time and the help of more than one professional to work that image out of my mind.

Has suicide touched your life?
Did you know that 34,000 people die by suicide every year in the United States and approximately one million people in the world die by suicide each year? (Statistics from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) I would imagine the reasons each person would give (or we would assume) would be vastly different based upon many factors but to me there would have to be a common thread throughout. No hope. 

There is Always Hope
In my mind only someone without hope would decide that suicide is the best solution to their current situation. Only someone unable to see hope would make a plan and go through with it believing that things will be better afterwards.
We can’t know what happened to my dad when his life on earth ended, but I can say that my life was not better because of him being gone. I was already a grown woman with a family of my own at the time but this event rocked our world. Everything changed. I won’t speak for my sister or my mom as to how their lives changed. That’s their story to share if they will.
One thing I do know is this. Most days I don’t really think about my dad much. Once in a while though, something happens and it’s like he’s not been gone a day.

Making Memories
Recently Sarah and I were in her bedroom while Jon was finishing up his bathroom routine. We couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see us, but we could hear each other. When Sarah said, “Daddy’s combing his hair,” I could immediately hear my dad walking in the back door of our house, dropping his lunchbox and keys on the counter. Next he stopped at the sink to wash his hands, then moved on to his bedroom to get ready to take a shower. I could hear all of that inside my head like it happened yesterday. If I had allowed myself to follow the memory long enough I could probably even have conjured up the smell of his deodorant.
For a long time these memories made me sad, but now I cherish them. When they come to me I share them with Jon or my kids so that they are more real. So that he is still real. 
They also make me stop and think. What memories am I creating for my kids to store away? What smells will remind them of me? What songs? What places?
In addition to taking a look at my own life, it makes me want to share hope with people wherever and whenever I can. There is always hope. For the pain you might feel today, for the hurt we inflict on each other and ourselves every day. No person is immune from pain but none of us lives in a world without hope either.

Find the help you need.
One more thought before I wrap up this post. My Dad has been gone almost twelve years. In that time I have seen five different therapists, been prescribed more different anti-depressants than I can recall, and learned more about myself and life than I ever would have otherwise. 
I would gladly have him back in a heartbeat, but because my Dad left us the way he did, I started down a path of self discovery that has made me the person I am today. I wouldn’t choose to go back to day one.
If you are in a place of hurting, don’t give up. The mourning and the confusion lasted several years for me. Then there was trying to figure out what exactly my own issues were. It’s really been only in the last several years that I believe I truly have a good handle on that.
When you hurt, share it with someone. When you celebrate, share it with someone. If you’re reading this, then I call you friend. You can let me know about your hurt. I’ll do what I can to help or I’ll help you find someone who can. Whatever you do, don’t give up. There is always hope.
If you need more encouragement to just keep walking through the pain, watch this weekend service from Granger Community Church

1 comment:

  1. Such a powerful and important post, Jennifer. So sorry you lost your Dad.