Gatekeeping (1st Edition)

by Kathy on January 14, 2012 · 17 comments

in Bereavement, Coping, Family, Gatekeeping, Grief, Hope, Life, Loss, Love, Pain, Peace, Suicide Prevention, The Future

How are you feeling?

What are your plans for tomorrow?

I shared the back story of these simple and yet powerful questions in this post.

In 2011 I lost two loved ones to suicide. I realize that there is likely nothing I could have done to change the outcome of their lives, but it is something that I struggle with as I continue to work through my grief and try to make peace with these women taking their own lives.

I know that many of us suffer in silence when we are going through difficult and uncertain times in our lives. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I am not asking you to tell me your secrets or your problems, unless you want to of course. But I invite you to check in here periodically (you can also email me or send a Facebook message) and let me know how you are feeling and what plans you may have for tomorrow.

Here’s an excerpt from the post I referenced above called Gatekeepers:

My favorite line in Meg (Hutchinson’s) song (called Gatekeepers) is, “maybe every day, in ordinary ways, we hold each other on, we keep each other here.”

I think that is so profound and it certainly rings true for me.

There have been countless people throughout my life that have been “Gatekeepers” to me. Though I have never seriously considered taking my own life and strongly believe that I will never do so, I have survived some very rough patches where my self esteem and self worth were severely challenged. 

I love the idea that in “ordinary ways” we can make extraordinary differences in the journeys of loved ones and even strangers that we meet throughout the course of our day-to-day lives. 

Kevin “the Gatekeeper” Briggs has done so by asking those two simple questions of strangers he has met contemplating jumping (off the Golden Gate Bridge), Meg Hutchinson has done so through her music and song, Bob Edwards has done so with the stories he shares on his radio show and you all have done so for me over the years through your comments here, your caring ways, your love and your support as my readers, fellow bloggers, friends and family members. 

Thank you so very much.

I will be posting “Gatekeeping” blog entries now and then and hope that they will present the opportunity for anyone who reads them who is having a hard time coping with challenges they are facing in life to share. That said, you are certainly welcome to comment about the things you are feeling good about too. I believe that being able to recognize and name the things we are grateful for is essential to help us find peace and joy in our lives. That is part of why I love participating in Lori’s monthly Perfect Moment Mondays.

Sometimes it’s the little things than can help keep us a float when we feel like we are drowning. Just knowing that others care and want to know how we are feeling, as well as being able to think about what we might do tomorrow has the power to help us get through tough times.

Thank you for reading. I hope that however you are doing today that you know there are people in your life (I am one of them) who care about how you are feeling and want to know what your plans, hopes and dreams are for tomorrow and the days to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I will start us off by answering the questions myself:

I am feeling…

Glad — that it is the weekend (and a three day one for Bob and Sean at that). 

Tired — because I didn’t get enough sleep this week and need to “catch up.”

Motivated — to get the rest of our Christmas decorations put away (which is always bittersweet after our home looks so nice and colorful during the holiday season).

<Relieved — that we didn’t “over-program” ourselves this weekend (as we have a tendency to), which will allow us to spend quality time together as a family, relax some and also hopefully get things done around our house.

My plans for tomorrow are…

To go to church with my family in the morning, celebrate one of our friend’s birthdays at his home with his family and friends for an early dinner and then wrap up the day relaxing on the couch watching Red Carpet coverage followed by the Golden Globe Awards on TV.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Esperanza January 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

I don't know how I missed that last post, the one you linked to. Maybe I wasn't reading you regularly then. I live in SF. I voted for them to add the net to that breathtaking but deadly bridge. I believe it passed but I don't think the net is up yet. Evidently people come from all over the world to jump off that bridge. I can't quite wrap my head around it.

My very good friend, my sister's very best friend, jumped off that bridge in November of 2005. He had dinner at my parents' house the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He talked of applying to UC Santa Cruz so he could join my sister there the next fall. The following Tuesday, not two full days later, he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. My sister and I drove his car home from Marin County morgue. The following summer we spent two weeks in Guatemala with his extended family. I think about him every day. I miss him very much.

I think this is a great series. I have been in a place in my life when things were so bad that I could understand that someone would take their own life, where the days seemed stacked before me like dominos and I instead of the opportunity for joy and life I saw the opportunity for misery. I never actually planned any suicide attempts but I thought of how freeing it might be. Depression is a dark and mangled lens to look through.

How am I feeling today:

Underwater: I have so much to do, around the house, for work, and I feel there isn't enough time to get it done.

Grateful: I can hear my daughter stirring in her crib. I know when I go into her room I will be greeting by the biggest smile and most genuinely happy rendition of 'Hi Mami!' possible and I will quickly be reminded that the work stuff will get done.

Sad: remembering my friend and always, always, always wondering if there is something I could have done differently. I love you Johnny.

My plans for tomorrow are… Take my daughter somewhere fun in the morning, get work done during her nap and go to yoga in the evening. A very nice Sunday, to be sure.

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2 Hope January 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I'm only an occasional reader of your blog, but I stumbled on your post today, and it was just what I needed. I went through some really rough times as a teenager, and I did contemplate suicide once, and ever since then, I've had an interest in helping people find a reason to go on living. What helped me at the time was the idea that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But I like these questions.

How I'm feeling today: Mostly sad and resigned. Something I thought was going well has taken a turn for the worse, and I'm disappointed about that.

My plans for tomorrow: I'm teaching Sunday school and my church's children's choir, then having an afternoon at home doing chores.

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3 Kathy January 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Esperanza – Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your personal experience, including living so close the bridge and having lost such a dear friend there (I am so very sorry for your loss).

I have great difficulty wrapping my brain around how anyone is able to follow through with taking their own life, but I understand how one's thoughts can lead them to consider doing so and realize that for many this life and this world is too much too handle (either because they struggle with mental illness or for some other reason).

Thank you for your validation about this series. It's always a little nerve-wrecking for me to put something like this "out here" and seeing your comment today, so soon after I posted this means so much to me. I feel very blessed and lucky to know you and so appreciate the way you cheer me on in so many ways with my writing and my ideas. Thank you. xoxo

Thank you for sharing how you are feeling today. I hope that you come to the surface soon. Keeping up with household and work responsibilities can feel so overwhelming. Are you still using that housekeeping app you told me about? My mom has this goofy expression (not sure where she heard it/got it) that "the way to eat and elephant is one bite at a time." It sometimes makes me smile when I have a lot to accomplish and am feeling overwhelmed.

I am glad that you are feeling grateful for your daughter knowing how much she means to you, how adorable she is and how freely she shares her love and adoration for you.

I empathize with your feelings of sadness and wondering if there is something you could have done. I often think and feel that way when I think about the deaths of my two loved ones who took their own lives last year. I love and miss them too. I believe that Johnny knows how much you love and cared about him.

I hope that you have fun with your daughter tomorrow, get some things done during her nap and enjoy your yoga class. Namaste, my friend.

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4 Kristin January 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm

This post and the original one are so beautiful and powerful. Thank you.

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5 Kathy January 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thank you for your comment Hope. I am glad that you stumbled on my post today and that it spoke to you. I love that what you took away from your experience considering suicide was wanting to help others find reasons to go on living. That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing what helped you at the time. That idea makes a lot of sense to me.

Thank you for sharing your answers to these questions. I appreciate your candidness. I am sorry that you are feeling sad and resigned. It really sucks when something we are feeling good about doesn't turn out as we hoped and thought it might. (((HUGS)))

I hope that you have a peaceful and inspiring morning tomorrow teaching Sunday school and your church's children's choir. I also teach religious education and know how rewarding that ministry can be. The children may not always let us how much they care or appreciate our teaching/leading them, but I believe we have a significant/very positive impact on their faith journeys. Best wishes with your chores.

Thanks again for checking in here and I hope you will visit my blog again sometime. I clicked over to your's tonight and enjoyed reading and commenting on some of what you have shared there.

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6 Kathy January 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

You are welcome Kristin and thank you for your kind words and support, as always. xoxo

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7 Jjiraffe January 15, 2012 at 2:50 am

Thank you for directing me to that post. I live in Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge has an unsettling beauty to me: almost everyone around here knows of someone who lost their life jumping from there. It's hard to reconcile the beauty with the tragedy. I had not heard of Kevin Biggs and will keep an eye out for him. I love his story.

How Am I Feeling: Sick, but supported by my family. That's a nice feeling.

What are my plans tomorrow: If I feel better, a birthday party and a family dinner. If not, well back in bed I suppose.

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8 Lavender Luz January 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

What a fantastic series. I'll be Stumbling this. In the last three years, two people I know have done what I cannot fathom — made and executed (I use that word with purpose) a horrible, irreversible plan. I feel for them both profound sadness and also anger at the aftermath they left behind.

To answer your questions…

I feel:

Busy! I'm running a most fascinating adoption book tour. I'm learning so much from the people who are generously sharing their viewpoints.

Hungry: I suppose I should get off the couch and eat something.

Happy: It's a 3-day weekend and I'm with my family.

My plans for tomorrow:

Yoga class. Prep for the final day of the book tour. Take the kids on an outing with my friend and her kids. Eat a family dinner. Check in with my online friends.

And thanks for reminding me to get started on a Perfect Moment Monday post, due in a week!

Namaste, my friend.

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9 Kathy January 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Jjiraffe – You are welcome. Thank you for sharing about your experience living so close to the Golden Gate Bridge and knowing people who know people who took their own lives by jumping off of there. I agree it is "hard to reconcile the beauty with the tragedy," as you said. I love Kevin's story too. Please let me know if you ever meet him.

When I was a child I remember hearing about a neighbor's wife who committed suicide by pretending she was taking a picture of a train coming towards her on the track and then she didn't move and it ran her over/killed her. It is my earliest recollection of learning about someone taking their own life (which was hard for me to understand) and ever since over the years I have sometimes thought of that when I am standing next to a train track with a train approaching. It gives me chills and I feel sad as I recall the story.

I hope you feel better and get to attend the birthday party/family dinner. I am glad that your family is supporting you. If not, I hope you are able to relax and get well soon.

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10 Kathy January 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thank you Lori! I am sorry that you have lost two people in your life to suicide in recent years. It is so painful to be "left behind." I appreciate your words about the sadness and anger you feel. I think those are common emotions for those of us trying to make sense of what happened.

I used to think taking one's own life was a very selfish thing to do. After my friend died last April and I was trying to work through my grief I came across a woman named Cristi's website and specifically this post: http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com/2011/08/23/is-suicide-selfish/ You may know her already from Twitter/the Blogosphere. She is an advocate for suicide prevention and support and opened my eyes to a better understanding of why and how people are able to follow through with such horrible and irreversible plans.

It is still hard for me to accept that my loved ones took their own lives, but reading many of the resources that she shares and links to on her blog, including that particular post, was very helpful for me.

Thank you for answering the questions. I am glad that your book tour is going so well, I have enjoyed some of the posts I read and commented on (even though I didn't read the book myself yet). I hope you enjoyed whatever you ate (assuming you got off your couch) and have a nice weekend with your family.

Sounds like a fun today you have planned for tomorrow and I look forward to participating in your next Perfect Moment Monday blog hop a week from Monday! 🙂

Namaste

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11 Beautiful Mess January 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm

OK Blogger…no eating my comment this time!

I had a friend commit suicide in high school and while it was awful, it didn't impact me as much as when my mom died. I'm sure it has to due with age and the fact that when my friend committed suicide, I didn't find it "personally" offensive. What I do know is that if it weren't for his mom telling us (his friends) that it wasn't our fault and there was nothing we could have done to stop him, I'm sure we all would have blamed ourselves.

The questions are an amazing thing to say to anyone going through ANYTHING! Coming from a place where depression was a huge shock to me (after I came out of it) I see now that hearing those questions would have made me stop and think. Come out of myself for a minute or two.

To answer your questions…
I am feeling sad today. It's been 6 years today that my mom passed away. Every year I hope that this day won't knock me to my knees, but it does. This year however, I did hope this day would be kind, but I just gave in. I cried into my husband's chest and felt a bit better.
Tomorrow I am going to hang out with the family. We got some snow today and I'm hoping for more so we can make another snow chick and have another snowball fight.
Thank you for your words, they're beautiful, as always 🙂
*HUGS*

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12 loribeth January 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

This is such a great idea, Kathy. Just knowing that someone cares enough to ask how we are (& really mean it) it a lift to the spirits, no matter how good or bad we're feeling.

When I was in Grade 5, a boy in Grade 6 died over the Christmas holidays. He went out hunting with a rifle in the woods & they found his body later — an accident, or so we were told. I can remember some of my classmates went to the funeral & saying the bullet went under his chin. In the years since then, I have often wondered whether he committed suicide. He was slightly older than his classmates (held back a grade or two), very quiet, shy & sensitive.

How I'm feeling: Tired & almost ready for bed. Glad to be inside with the wind howling outside. : )

My plans for tomorrow: head from the train to my family dr's office before work to get my blood pressure checked (it's been a few months…). Finish off a few projects at work, & get them out of my hair. ; )

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13 Kathy January 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Beautiful Mess – Yay! I am glad this one stuck! 🙂

Thank you for sharing your experience and what your friend's mom said to you and your friends. That was very thoughtful and sensitive of her. I think it is so common after losing a loved one to suicide to allow ourselves to question whether there was something "we could have done" to keep them from taking their own life. Also, I appreciate that your mom's death hit you a lot harder, which is totally understandable. (((HUGS)))

You are always great about thinking outside the box… I agree that these questions can be helpful to show our love and that we care to anyone in our lives, not just those who might be contemplating committing suicide.

Thank you for answering the questions.

Sending lots of love, thoughts and prayers your way. Six years is a long time and yet I imagine in many ways your mom's passing may feel like it was just yesterday. I am so sorry for your loss and appreciate that though the pain may lessen over time, that we never get over the death of our loved ones. We just somehow learn to adjust the best we can to our "new normal" and go on living without them here.

I hope you had a nice time with your family and got to enjoy some more fun in the snow.

You are welcome. I really appreciate your kind words and validation, as always. xoxo

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14 Kathy January 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Thank you Loribeth. I agree that no matter how we are feeling that being asked these questions genuinely can be very meaningful.

Thank you for sharing your memory of your classmate. As I have been working through the deaths of my loved ones who took their own lives, I have reflected on how I learned about suicide when I was younger. There were other people throughout my life who I heard of having taken their own lives, including a distant relative, and even then it was hard for me to understand and accept. I find it especially heartbreaking when young people commit suicide, as I wonder if they had been able to hang on if things would have/could have gotten better and more bearable with age and maturity. But I get if people are mentally ill, time and aging may not make a difference in their emotional stability and well being.

I hope that you had a good night's sleep, that your blood pressure was normal and that you got your projects at work completed. Thanks for checking in. It always warms my heart and makes me smile when I see you have commented here. xoxo

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15 April August 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Kathy, I somehow missed this first edition of Gatekeeping, but almost every other time you’ve posted one, they’ve been times I desperately needed someone to ask, and to care, and to help me think about tomorrow. Thank you for doing this, for being a light in the darkness.

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16 Lori Lavender Luz August 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Revisiting this post fro Time Warp Tuesday. After meeting you in person and knowing the reasons you began this series, I am even more supportive of your efforts.

It was fun for me to see what my answers to the questions were 7 months ago. I’m still here on the couch and I’m still hungry 😉
Lori Lavender Luz recently posted..Time Warp Tuesday: Left BehindMy Profile

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