Saying goodbye to save a life

Today, March 1st, has been emotionally charged as we said goodbye and bid peace to someone whose life ended too soon from the completion of suicide. He suffered from his own demons, which included depression. I know this story too well, our neighborhood grieves again. In December 2008, the neighborhood grieved the first time after my husband, Russ, passed away from the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness: bipolar and auditory hallucination, which associates with schizophrenia.

My neighbor, Michael, passed away on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 as a result of a gunshot after dealing with troubling times in life. His life has me reflecting back to the date and time of Russ’s death and how far I’ve come since. I not only survived, but I thrived.

As I sat during the funeral, I pictured Russ and now Michael Goetzinger in Heaven sitting in the yard and talking. They’re both released from their pain and looking down on their families and friends giving encouragement and making sure we’re all healing and moving forward. One of the songs played at the service, Wideness in God’s Mercy, hit home because it played at Russ’s funeral six years ago. Even in death we’re all connected.

The service composed of music, readings, and poems that found their place into people’s souls. From the poems, The Journey by Mary Oliver and The Farewell by Khalil Gibran, to music of Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, Everything’s Not Lost by Coldplay and If You Lead Me Lord I Will Follow, and an anointing of essential oils to aid in healing and hope created voices in song, hugs in hundreds, and tears of sorrow.

I’m thankful to all the neighbors who came together to support each other and for making sure that I’m doing alright and offering lots of hugs. Connected by love, connected by sorrow, all of us have a brighter tomorrow. Rest in Peace Michael and to all of people who have lost their lives to the completion of suicide.

Once again we’re reminded that suicide’s real and we must break the stigma that surrounds it. If you’re contemplating suicide, preventing suicide or support others, please see: AFSP.

If you are in crisis, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
With your help, we can all save lives.

THRIVE!

Thrive! Thrive! Thrive! Thriver! Thriving! Thrival!

What amazing words revealing a deep concept! And yet the words have only recently revealed their shine and impact in the world.

I’ve been using the words for a good length of time now thanks to a friend who showed me the wrong way of using the word “survivor”. After the tragic loss of my husband, I became informed that I was a survivor (of suicide), but when I shared this on an Authentic Self~Kosmic Consciousness retreat, a new friend said something that it makes me sound like a survivor of cancer–that I survived it. This had me thinking that she’s right, it did sound that way. I came out alive from a tragic loss, but I wasn’t the victim, I didn’t merely survive, I thrived as a result. Since then, I’ve noticed thrive in so many places. I even used the word “Thrival” in the subtitle of my book and submitted the word with definition to the Merriam Webster online dictionary and they posted it!

thrival:
(noun): the state of thriving

Submitted by: Karen E Voss from Wisconsin on Apr. 15, 2014 16:21

—————————

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, thrive means:

Definition: thrive

intransitive verb \ˈthrīv\ : to grow or develop successfully : to flourish or succeed

Full Definition of THRIVE

1:  to grow vigorously :  flourish

2:  to gain in wealth or possessions :  prosper

3:  to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on <thrives on conflict>.

—————————————————————-

In 2014, I started listening more to a contemporary christian radio station, K-LOVE. At the time, I required music to connect me spiritually and to keep me balanced. They played a song titled Thrive by Casting Crowns. I immediately connected to the song and downloaded the song from Amazon.com. Liking the song so much, I created my own Thrive radio station on iHeart Radio, which not only plays the song, but other songs by Casting Crowns, and other related Christian music. This station calms my mind, any stress at work, and for when I need to reflect. I found out a short time later, Casting Crowns has a CD called Thrive and so I placed it on my Christmas wish list (my older brother bought it for me). Not only did I receive the CD, but the CD contained a Thrive poster.

100_4773 100_4774

A visit to the Milwaukee Public Library Bay View location to pick up a requested book led me to browsing other selections. I discovered a book titled Thrive by Ariana Huffington. I couldn’t resist picking it up and taking it home. The book has a subline of “The third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well=being, wisdom, and wonder”.  I had no clue what the Third Metric entailed so google revealed the book website with the following:

“WHAT IS THE THIRD METRIC?

When you stop … if you ever do…you sense something isn’t quite right. You have a long list of accomplishments that bring great satisfaction – deals, causes, and outcomes that are better because you poured your heart into them. Yet you’ve been giving and giving to every other good endeavor but yourself. You’re depleted. There’s no rest. There’s no respite. There’s no end. It doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN redefine your life to include a Third Metric — your well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

The book shows great guidance and insight revealing how we can thrive in our daily lives:

“We have, if we’re lucky, about thirty thousand days to play the game of life. How we play it will be determined by what we value. If we worship money, we’ll never feel truly abundant. If we worship power, recognition, and fame, we’ll never feel we have enough. And if we live our lives madly rushing around, trying to find and save time, we’ll always find ourselves living in a time famine, frazzled and stressed.

While the world provides plenty of insistent, flashing, high-volume signals directing us to make more money and climb higher the ladder, there are almost no wordly signals reminding us to stay connected to the essence of who we are, to take care of ourselves along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place from which everything is possible. To quote my Greek compatriot Archimedes: ‘Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.’

So find your place to stand—your place of wisdom and peace and strength. And from that place, remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us++women and men—can thrive and live our lives with more grace, more joy, more compassion, more gratitude, and yes, more love. Onward, upward, and inward!” –from Thrive by Ariana Huffington

The world around us continues to thrive, but it’s what you do with your ability to thrive that can change the world. I read an article by Gregory Ramsey and he states, “change your way of thinking and you can change your world”. He’s absolutely right! The way we think leads us to the choices we make in life for ourselves and for the lives of everyone around us. I could have chosen to just survive, making my way through the muck left over from my husbands completion of suicide, but I chose and live to thrive! It’s my job now to help others and that creates an impact on people’s lives.

What will you choose…survive or thrive?

“I do not consider myself a survivor anymore, but rather a “thriver”, a warrior moving forward after tragedy.” -K.E.Voss

“We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive”
-Thrive, Casting Crowns

Today, I made the bed…

Today, I made the bed…

What may seem insignificant to some represents something bigger to another.

Today, I made the bed. Exactly six years ago today, my husband made the bed that morning. I didn’t sleep in the bed for two months. Not doing so allowed me to hold a piece of him because you see he passed away that morning.

Today, I balanced the checkbook. Balancing the checkbook and keeping track of that account became my job. I always did it and tracked down the missing check or two. I had stopped this. Sure, I knew the day-to-day after all there’s online banking. However, this morning I made sure the numbers were correct and then wrote a contribution check for church and listed the balance.

Today, I changed the plan. My original plan today started with going to church, visiting at the cemetery and arriving home in time for the start of the Packers game. That’s until I received a text from a good friend asking to get together to catch up. I replied sure. We met up after church for hot chocolate, a pastry, and conversation before I headed to the cemetery. I missed the first quarter of the game and that’s OK.

Today, I visited the cemetery. This isn’t unusual for me to do on special days or just because. Today while there, I wrote a bit inspired by God and influenced by my faith for God takes care of us no matter what’s happening in our lives.

Today, I mailed the Christmas cards. This isn’t unusual or something new, but the time frame changed this year from years past. I’ve been good about sending them out early, but this year life got in the way. I realized it’s the same weekend six years ago that we sent out Christmas cards containing our wedding photo. Most everyone received those cards on Monday, the day after my husband passed away; a bittersweet photo.

Today, I heard a siren. The siren stopped on the next block to the south. Six years ago, the sirens stopped at our house. They left with a physical body whose heart stopped beating and his lungs stopped breathing as a result of asphyxiation. There’s nothing anyone could have done.

Today, I watched a movie. Not just any movie, but a special one, The Muppet Christmas Carol. This movie holds a special place in my heart because during this movie, Russ changed the words of the song, “When Love is Gone” to when love is found and then told me that he loves me (less than two months into our relationship and yet my heart knew that I loved him at two weeks). I shed a few tears during the movie and even if parts of it weren’t special, I’d still shed tears. The night continues with a movie he became attached to and to the song, “Hot Chocolate”. It’s time to board The Polar Express.

All this and more, all because

Today, I made the bed.

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day resides this year on November 22, 2014.

Across the world, people gather as one. We all have something in common. We have lost someone to the completion of suicide. It’s a day to share journeys, hope, and healing. I found out Monday afternoon that I’ll be hosting a resource table for my book, That’s All I Got! at the Milwaukee event sponsored by the Mental Health America of Wisconsin. On this day, I am inspiring, sharing, healing, and strengthening.

If you aren’t able to attend a local event, there’s a 90 minute live video feed at 12 pm CST/1 PM EST so you too can take part in this day. Follow this link to join: Survivor Day Live

Survivor Day Website

Milwaukee Event

Re-living a tragedy

“As the world grieves, may more light be shed upon mental illness and the prevention and education of suicide”. -K.E.Voss

It’s been over a week since the world learned of the passing of Robin Williams. Since then we have learned the cause of his death by suicide — he hung himself and had attempted to slit his wrists. I apologize for my bluntness, but it’s not something to hide behind, it’s truth. We also know he had the beginning stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which may have caused his depression or added to it.

There’s so many questions and there may never be answers. He may not even know.

I do know, like many people who have lost someone to the completion of suicide, may have been affected by Robin’s death; I know I have. When I heard the details of how he died, I had an immediate flashback to the moment I found my husband. It sent a wave of emotions into me. Your breath is a powerful tool to calm the mind down. I had a visit scheduled to my chiropractor who doesn’t just assist with physical ailments. Talking about it and getting adjusted, which helped my emotional and mental health as well as physical, made for a better night. Seeking support from friends geared thoughts to other things. This created only a bump in the road for me that became smoother.

Others affected may not have had it as simple as I did. Reliving tragedies isn’t fun especially if you still have fresh wounds. Depending on what you witnessed, it takes a good amount of time to heal and even then the memories can resurface.

Death opens wounds for those affected by suicide

Remember to call upon and check on those who maybe re-affected by worldly or local/national tragedies. Show you care. Be there.

Don’t be quick to judge

A recent Dear Abby post (from Tuesday, August 5, 2014) reminded me of something I wrote in That’s All I Got. The lady who wrote to Dear Abby mentioned that no one outside her immediate family knew she suffered from depression or a suicide attempt.

When Russ and I were dating and then married, we never shared the information about Russ’ mental illnesses with anyone in my family. We wanted Russ treated without judgement, as a regular person and not someone seen as a victim or a special case. This was our mutual decision.

After Russ died and the details started to emerge, I heard or maybe asked about why we didn’t tell and that maybe they could have helped. My first thought was: How? Can you take the illnesses away? When I gave the reason behind not telling, I heard, we wouldn’t have done that (meaning judged him based on him having bipolar disorder and auditory hallucinations). Really? It’s 2014, everyone is quick to judge. How many times have you heard about someone committing (completed is the correct term) suicide and thinking they’re crazy when in reality they suffered from a mental illness known or unknown to someone else. I used to do this myself until suicide affected me. Can you say the same? Do you want to?

Think about it. Don’t be quick to judge.

A simple pair of skates

Years ago, skating as a teenager, I discovered the art of rollerblading for recreation and exercise. I remember purchasing my first pair of roller blades with saved up money from my paper routes. I wore the first set of wheels down to the bearings. The frames became so beat up that Play-It-Again Sports scrapped them for me. I replaced that pair with a better design. I still have these.

20140720_125800

 

Up until I married, those blades rolled places. Then, tragedy occurred and I hadn’t touched them since, that is until Sunday, July 20th, 2014. A week or two before this I saw someone flying down my street on roller blades. That got me thinking, why don’t I blade anymore? I couldn’t give myself a good response; I had given up. Another time in the garage, I saw my blades poking from a storage can.This must have been a sign.

I dusted them off and located my protective gear after all, a writer doesn’t need a broken wrist. A day or two later, I suited up and started out slowly, gaining my balance on two legs and wheels. Then it was like I had never stopped rollerblading (except for remembering how to navigate curbs. I headed to the quiet park with paved walk ways and an adjoining school parking lot. At first, I straight up skated working my way to downhill squatting and attempting turns. Turns were easy to remember, but harder to do especially backwards. As I practiced and nearly fell on my butt, I had a thought I’ll finish with.

“Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward. Sometimes you need to fall in order to succeed”.-K.E.Voss