There is no shame…

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Days until Walk: 9
Why I Walk…for my mom.

My mom spent the better part of her life helping others and searching for answers as a psychiatric nurse. Most people probably do not know this, but she also spent a significant amount of her life feeling shame and keeping secrets.

My mom lost…
her father, William…
her son, Brian…
her husband, John…
to suicide.

When planning her husband’s funeral, she said to me, “I don’t want to do this…I don’t want to be around anyone because people will blame me.” It made me so incredibly sad to think that she would ever feel that way. I told her right then that people wanted to be there for her, just as she had always been there for others (and that if I overheard even one person say something like that, I’d go RP all over them!). She decided to move forward with the service and there was a line of people waiting to see her that went all the way out the door.

When planning the Walk later that year, I asked if I could add her father’s name to the team t-shirt. She said, “No, I don’t want it to affect my professional career.” I did not know that for years she had only disclosed how her father died to very few people because she feared that her employers and colleagues would think his suicide would cloud her judgement and/or ability to work effectively with patients. She called me back two days later and said, “Add his name.”

When talking about her son, Brian, she would not acknowledge that he died by suicide. She said that she thought his death was accidental. However, she let me put his name on our t-shirt because “he suffered from extreme anxiety, which lead to severe depression.” That she even acknowledged this mental illness so openly, was a huge step of healing for her.

This summer, when I first received the devastating news that my nephew, her grandson, Patrick, had died by suicide, I immediately wanted to call her. I just wanted to talk to my mom! Just that quickly, I realized that I couldn’t and thought with relief, “I am so glad that she is not here to experience this pain again.” I sometimes try to imagine that she was the first of many in heaven to greet Pat with open arms…

So…I walk for my mom. I walk for the pain she felt all those years. I walk for the pride that she expressed when she put on the t-shirt the first year Choosing Grace became a team. I walk because my mom did the best she could do given the cards she was dealt – and she did a damn good job. I walk because the stigma of suicide ruins too many people…and I walk because my mom had faith that this could change one step at a time. There is no shame…only HOPE.

#wearechoosinggrace #NoochieRAKs #OOTDCW

For more information on the AFSP and/or the Chicago Out of the Darkness Walk, please visit this website: http://www.chicagowalk.org

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