When my dad ended his life, it felt like I arrived somewhere I had been dreading for a very long time. I was 13 years old when I first saw the signs. I was 15 when he was hospitalized for his first attempt. I was 26 when—after a long and healthy recovery—things began to spiral downward again. 27 when we intervened and began therapy. And then, I was 28 when I stood in front of his house last year—just 5 days before Thanksgiving—and learned that he was no longer with us.
My father’s depression spoke out loud without embarrassment. It stared me in the face, and made itself plainly seen. After a while, it refused my help. It quit therapy and told me it had had enough of trying things my way. It requested my respect, and with unspoken words it told me what lay ahead. My father’s depression didn’t hide, but for a while, I did… because I was crushed by my own inability to help.
When that day I dreaded for so many years arrived at my doorstep… or more accurately, when I arrived at its doorstep, I came to understand that forgiving my dad wasn’t so much the issue as learning to forgive myself was.
Since I’ve begun to do that, I can now say it: I am one of the many whose grief is complicated by suicide. But I am also one of the many who feel deeply inspired by the powerful conversation that has been sparked by the collective voices who aren’t afraid or ashamed to speak out. To close your eyes and feel yourself linking arms with millions of loving strangers—holding the same candle of hope—is more moving than words can express.
And what’s more—There’s a powerful conversation out there for everyone, and taking part—whether it’s in thought or in action—helps us to exercise the highest of all human values: compassion. Com·pas·sion: the word literally means feeling—or suffering—together. With one another. Realizing that we can bear our own heavy loads with others increases our capacity for empathy—it makes us human. It strengthens our ability to love, and shows us that even in our darkest moments we can heal. Together.
Learning how to forgive myself through my loss—to show myself some compassion—has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. But I’ve found that sharing my journey with others who are also on theirs can help us all to heal. My upcoming book is my way of doing just that—of sharing my path to self-discovery and self-forgiveness through my story.
And then, of course, there’s this blog—the part of my journey that takes my readers beyond my book and into my everyday life. And it’s a good complement to Flight & Song (which brings you on a journey through my past) because a big part of my healing has been learning to express myself in real time, too. What’s the trick? I’ve always appreciated the small things in life. In fact, almost everything that crosses my path I find to be inspirational and instructive. Through my posts, you’ll learn more about the things I see, say and do on a daily basis to continue my path to healing. After all… It’s the simple things that keep us going. Don’t you think?
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Have a question for me? Contact Dana Mich.