The Walk

I celebrated my birthday this year by participating in my first walk to raise funds for suicide awareness and prevention.

It was a sunny September Sunday. It was held in a beautiful park like setting. There were many, many people there. It felt like we should all have been apple picking or going into a corn maze or feeding chickens, but instead we were all grieving.

There were beads hanging on a display in the middle of the gathering area. Many, many beads for people to choose from and wear. There were white beads and dark blue beads and light blue beads and green beads and orange beads and my color was red. I was to wear red beads, to signify to everyone at the walk that I had lost a spouse to suicide.

I put my beads on. I walked through the crowd with my co-worker and friend who lost her brother to suicide. I looked around, in this vast crowd of people who had lost friends and relatives and co-workers and parents and children to suicide. We were all standing in the sun. Everyone had lost someone. But I couldn't find another person wearing red beads. I looked hard. I found noone.

I had volunteered to get up on stage during the opening ceremony, and to represent all those who had lost a spouse to suicide by pouring red sand from a cup into a jar. I did that, and I cried in front of a crowd, and I felt like I was representing myself in front of a big crowd of other people.

This is how it feels sometimes. At social gatherings, at family get-togethers, at the grocery store even. It feels hard. It feels like even in a world that is full of loss, you are one of very few who came home one day to find your husband hanging in the basement. It feels like maybe you are the only one who is struggling like hell to make things work, and who doesn't have a person to go home to talk to at the end of the day, and who, while listening to your children talk about their days at school, or cooking them dinner, or putting them to bed by yourself, is still constantly trying to figure out why it all happened because nobody is there to tell you why. You feel like the world understands marriage, and divorce, and sudden illness, and military loss, but the world does not understand suicide. The world says "I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through," and you know the world is right.

The walk was fine. It was fine. It was meaningful, and I was there and I wasn't there at the same time. My mind kept going to different things. My mind was confused by the feelings of sunshine and friendship and support and immense loss and loneliness.

It was fine. I was fine. But I definitely felt like the only one wearing red beads.


  1. Such a strong one knows how they would react if in your shoes but I'm pretty sure you're a guiding light for those in need..i truly hope you find happiness and love

  2. Yep, I knew it would wreck me. People ask me all the time if my BFF and I were lovers, because I am so destroyed over her stroke and death.
    I'm 54 now, we were BFF's for 24 years when she died. I ransacked her house for a will because we had had "those" talks. I fought (along with w/ her children) for her right to remove life support even though her brother and mother wanted to keep her on life support.
    I wasn't lovers with my BFF, but I loved her more than any man I had ever been with. Maybe it was because I have never had a successful relationship, or maybe it was because she loved me unconditionally for 24 years, while we had marriages, kids, divorces ups and, downs. She was my very first loss of someone so close to me that losing her was like losing my air. I don't think any loss will ever compare.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I find it oddly comforting to know other people who grieve because I hear them say things I feel and no one else says. I also find it horribly painful to know you understand grief like I understand grief.
    Thanks. (Rick_Kitty on the Twitter)


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