By Michelle Wells, Alumni
I had been discharged from my treatment program for a year and was in the ups and downs of early recovery when the call came. My husband’s voice cracked when he said my name, so I knew before he told me that my father was dead. There were no details yet, but I did not need them. The coroner’s report would later confirm what I already knew. My dad, like his twin brother twenty years before him, had taken his own life. There is much I could write about his life and perhaps some day I will, but as I sit here today contemplating World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2017) all I have to share with you are the pieces of my heart.
“Grief is like the ocean, it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All one can do is learn to swim” - Vicki Harrison
Loss and grief are two inescapable emotions that humans must experience at some point in their lives. The ability to cope with these emotions varies in accordance with the different stages of a person’s life.
In addition to the basics of food and shelter, children also need stability, consistency, and emotional care in order to thrive. Typically, at a young age, children form an emotional attachment with their caregivers and this has an influence on their development. The most important emotional attachment for a child is usually their parents. Children learn from their parents how to behave, how to function in life, and how to form other healthy relationships. When children grow up in unstable environments, it can disrupt normal development and lead to difficulties, such as mental health conditions.
Baby boomers are growing older. They are now entering the aging population and for the first time, a population associated with high rates of drug and alcohol use during the 1960's and 70's is entering the Medicare rolls, bringing high rates of drug and alcohol use along with them. The need for addiction treatment in older adults has never been more present.
Recently, someone I greatly admire celebrated her 60th birthday by jumping out of a plane… on purpose! She had decided that she wanted to live her 60th year as a ‘year of experiences’ and not let the number define who she is capable of being or what she is capable of experiencing. The week of her jump, she found herself second guessing her choice, wrestling with her fear and the constant voice of ‘what if’—that, however, did not stop her and on August 26th she approached the open door of the plane and with nothing else but faith (and a push from the tandem jumper attached to her) she jumped; showing the world, but most importantly herself, that age is just a number and fear is no reason to stay on the ground.
By now you have seen the news accounts and photographs regarding the situation in Texas. News reports have stated there are least 10 people are dead, with many more injured, as parts of the Houston area were inundated with more than 40 inches of rain, with totals possibly reaching 50 inches as the rainfall continues.
Social media has become a place for mourning. As people search for ways to reach out for solace, websites such as Facebook have become a platform to express grief and bereavement through the creation of Memorial Groups. Now, it has become easier than ever to mourn a departed friend or family member with a click of a mouse. Instead of sending flowers, we offer condolences and comfort to grieving friends who live far away with a simple post on your friend or the deceased person’s profile. However, while we mean well, there are things that we should remember while mourning someone on social media or connecting with our grieving friends online.