Do you ever have one of those moments where you want someone to just tell you what they want you to say? I mean, I want to say what the other person needs me to say in that moment. Most of the time, when faced with consoling a person who is grieving something, I seem to shy away in a sense not because I don’t care – because I genuinely care about what the person is feeling – but because I want to say the right thing to help them and not do them harm. I don’t want what I say to effect that person negatively.
I have often thought about my communication with others, verbally and non-verbally. When I smiled at the person in the grocery store, how did it effect that person? What was on their minds at that time when a stranger smiled a goofy smile at them? Or when I engage in conversation with one person, am I giving good advice, helping, or would just listening be the better action in this moment? I am often reminded of the finality of the end of our lives. With having cancer, that threat of an earlier death than I had anticipated has brought me to a place in my life where I am reflecting on my impact in society.
Earlier in my life, B.C. (before cancer), I was very shy and introverted. I was extroverted at work, but outside of work, I rarely communicated with anyone new. The few people I knew outside of work were the people I communicated with, even with a quick smile. When I was out in public running errands or just traveling, I kept my eyes forward or down, I kept a straight, emotionless face, I tried to draw as little attention as possible to me as I could. And I know why I did it, but looking back on it, I missed out on some good conversations, lessons, and relationships. Now, I smile at everyone, or say hi.
About a month or two ago, my nephew’s best friend unexpectedly took his own life. He was 18 years old. He was getting ready to graduate high school. He had a full scholarship to college to be an engineer. He was an intelligent and funny young man. He was bright, kind, and the best friend my nephew could have. And yet he thought this was the only way to communicate himself. That hit me hard. What damage has my communication done to others? How have I helped or hurt a decision making process of someone else?
I know that the decision he made was his and no one else’s, and he had other options. We always have an option other than that. But there are sometimes that we don’t see the other options because that option overshadows and hides the others. But if there is any take away from this post, it’s these two things: (1) there is always a better way than taking your own life – call 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK); and (2) how you communicate with others – verbally and non-verbally – effects others. Just because I am mad at myself for locking the keys in the car doesn’t mean I can be snippy to the locksmith. Just because someone was rude to you doesn’t give license to being rude to someone else. And I find myself hoping that the impact I had overall was more positive. I hope my words built someone up and not torn anyone down.
If someone you know is having a hard time or struggling emotionally, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need. It’s important to take care of yourself when you are supporting someone through a difficult time, as this may stir up difficult emotions. If it does, please reach out for support yourself.
Some warning signs may help you determine if someone is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the number above.
*Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
*Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
*Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
*Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
*Talking about being a burden to others
*Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
*Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
*Sleeping too little or too much
*Withdrawing or isolating themselves
*Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
*Extreme mood swings
It can be difficult and often scary when someone reveals to you their plans of suicide, or you see these some of these signs. Call the Lifeline for help. (800-273-8255) or (800-273-TALK). Also, don’t keep it a secret if someone tells you about a plan to hut themselves.
I know that this one got a little deep, and it is not the typical post. However, this has been weighing on my heart for a while and I went ahead and shared this piece of my heart with you all. I hope you have an amazing day today.
Gotta go fill up my cup…
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