Sam is a mom to 2 boys and 2 golden retrievers. After the tragic loss of her brother to suicide, she is on a mission to normalize mental health conversations. She believes changing the way we speak about mental health and suicide can change the narrative around this. She's run several fundraising for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and talks about mental health in her pet account @growingupgoldens on Instagram and TikTok along with heart-warming and super cute videos of her & her golden retrievers.
My brother lost his battle
Ten years ago, I had to let go of plans I had for the future.
I had to let go that he wouldn’t be standing next to me while I married my best friend.
I had to let go of giving a toast at his wedding that brought the crowd to tears and filled the room with laughter simultaneously.
I had to let go of watching our kids grow up together, hopefully having a bond like we shared.
I had to let go because my brother lost his battle with depression.
We can't stop living
But, we can’t live our lives in fear of the next goodbye.
We can’t stop living.
That’s not what they would have wanted for us.
If you have been through losing someone to suicide, I stand by each and every one of you. Only someone who has been through losing someone to suicide, understands that kind of grief.
If you have personally struggled, if you have attempted and survived… thank you for being alive. Take it one day at a time. Use your voice to reach out to others. You are going to be ok.There is no shame in being broken, but we need to pick up the pieces and start re-building.
I want people to know how he LIVED, not how he DIED
There are two forms of measurements of time for me now. The time before TJ died and the time after. The people I met while Tj was alive, know him. They had experiences with him and memories of him.
The relationships I make now will not know him.
They won’t ever get to feel the warm embrace and sense of security with one of his big bear hugs.
They will not understand why we see hummus as an “inside joke”.
They will not burst into laughter at the sign of unwrapped food in his pockets.
I don’t want his death to be the last thing people talk about. I want people who didn’t know him to know it’s ok to ask questions and I want people who did know him to share their stories with me.
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one to suicide. I don’t want my brothers life to have been in vain. If there’s anything I want people to know about my brother, it’s not HOW he died… but rather how he LIVED.
Healing is not linear
My family and I are still deep in the process of healing and dealing.
Is each day microscopically better or easier than the previous day? Sometimes.
Do I regress at all? Absolutely. The anniversary of his death, his birthday and the holidays are chalk full of regressions.
Does the pain get any easier? It does not.
Is the void created by his loss any smaller? This year marks 10 years since my brother left us and I can tell you that the black hole he left behind is as big as ever.
I hope that you know...
Even though the inspiration of hope is probably beyond my ability, I do believe that I am a positive person and because of that, I am comfortable saying;
For the families that have not lost a loved one to suicide, I hope that you never will.
For all our loved ones taken by suicide, I hope you are all in a better place.
For the families that have suffered this devastating life event, I hope that this brings you closer as a family. I hope that you can find the strength that you didn’t know you had.
It is well documented that most adolescence and young adults think about or worse yet contemplate suicide at some point in their life.
Regardless of your age, if you are thinking about or contemplating suicide, I hope that you know you are loved.
I hope that you know, you matter.
I hope that you know, your life matters.
I hope that you know, your life is worth living.
For each and everyone one of us here today, I hope that you cherish and hold hope in your heart each day.
I hope that one day in the very near future, someone stands up and announces that suicide is no longer an issue.