The following is part of a series of “I Walk Because…” posts. To find out about joining one of AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks, click here.
April 5, 2017 – I walk the Out of the Darkness Overnight for so many reasons.
I walk because I want others to know they are not alone on this journey. I will always be there with an understanding hug and support for my fellow walkers.
When I lost my brother to suicide, I thought I was the only one who had experienced this type of loss. I felt alone and abandoned by the outside world. I was blindsided by his loss and totally unprepared to deal with the aftermath. I don’t want others to feel that isolation, so I walk.
I walk because I wanted a way to honor my brother’s memory. Each year, my brother’s name is proudly displayed on the back of my shirt and he stays through the long night with me, and keeps me strong. When I see the honor bead ceremony each year, and the sibling survivor comes out with the orange beads, I know what they are going through. We share a common bond. Honoring our sibling matters.
I walk because I want to end the stigma of mental illness. My brother thought of his illness as a weakness in his character. He was too ashamed to reach out for help. Illness of the brain is no different than an illness of any other organ. I want others to know: you matter, you are strong, you can get through this, and there is always hope.
I walk because we need to raise money for AFSP. I see firsthand all the good that AFSP does and the programs they have developed such as Talk Saves Lives™ and More Than Sad. When a suicide does happen, AFSP provides resources to help those in need. The rate of suicide can be reduced. We need to continue the fight, and we need funding to do it.
I walk because I want to be the voice for those who cannot speak.
I walk to help heal my broken heart.
I think back to all those years ago, when my journey began. I connected with another sibling suicide loss survivor and we began an online support group for siblings: thus, SOLOS-Sibs was created. This online support group lasted for many years. I met hundreds of siblings who shared a similar story as mine. We became a family. In 2005, the first Overnight SOLOS-Sibs team was created. I was unable to do a walk until many years later, but after my first walk, I was hooked. We later changed the name to TEAM SOLOS, and made it open to any type of suicide loss. While I might only see my team once a year, we share a bond that only we can truly understand. We walk for each other.
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