by Elaine Newman
Originally published: January 25, 2017
Practicing the art of inclusion in everything I do is an integral piece to my everyday life. I am deeply committed to being there for others in any and every way I can. It is because of these strong convictions, I will never forget that the start of 2013 was especially difficult for me from a personal standpoint. Much to my deep sorrow, my mother had passed that January 1st. I had a special bond with her and we were each other’s companion, confidant and best friend. And I was extremely blessed to have her until the age of 88. But as much as I will miss her, it was her time, and I take comfort in the memory of a woman who lived a complete and joyous life, full with those who loved her.
However, it is the news that I received the week after the passing of my mother that truly rocked me to my core. A very dear friend of mine had taken his own life and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I had known my friend for almost twenty years, and never once had I ever seen a sign of despair from him. We weren’t just casual acquaintances, we had a strong connection and so with this news came a wide range of emotions; emotions that have been associated with those who are left behind after a person commits suicide.
Initially I was in denial; how could this have happened without my knowing that he was in need? Then my feelings progressed to intense grief, mixed with an element of anger that he hadn’t reached out to me for help. And then finally I was left with true emptiness mixed with some component of guilt for not recognizing that I had a special friend who I might have been able to help if only I had known or looked hard enough to see the signs. All genuine emotions when we lose someone we love under such circumstances.