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April 10, 2013

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* something new *

May 25, 2011

I know I have been gone for a while and I apologize. April and May have been incredibly busy months full of lots of clients and lots of writing projects leaving me, once again, too exhausted to do very much of anything except veg out and recoup in my spare time.

I am excited to announce that I’ll be graduating next month (on June 18th)!; And at the same time, this upcoming rite of passage has been bringing up a lot of grief, both consciously and unconsciously. You see, I met my former partner John at orientation for school, on the very first day of our Phd program in psychology. I remember standing by a buffet table in our school’s zen-like courtyard, talking to two new classmates. I looked away for a second and in that moment I saw John standing across the way; in classic John style, he had arrived two hours late. With his dirty blond curls and bright orange t-shirt, he looked sunny like a fresh summer day.

It was that same day at orientation that they told us to look around the room because 1 in 4 of our classmates, they said, would not make it to graduation day. Of all the reasons they gave for why that could be, what they didn’t mention was death.

It’s been a long, hard road these last five years. I can’t even believe how far I’ve come and how much I’ve endured to get it all done. After John passed, I swore I would finish the program on time; I’d be damned if after all the heartache and loss, I didn’t walk away with a phd. Now as graduation day approaches, I’m amazed at my accomplishments and deeply saddened and angry that John is not walking with me. If only he could have held on; if only we could be graduating together. I know he will be there in spirit, shining down in his summery way,  it’s not the same. The day still holds bittersweetness. Just when I thought my grieving was over, here’s another layer. It feels kinda nice actually; just letting the naturalness and realness of it and the love and humanness of it be as it is, as it needs to be.

 

So without further ado, let me get to the final two aspects that make suicide grief a unique type of loss.

5. Loneliness, isolation, alienation (disconnection from the norm and from peers)

When a partner or close loved one dies by their own hands, we as the closest survivors, have been thrust into a new paradigm, a reality without any signposts. Suddenly a fissure’s appeared in the way we used to see and experience the world and now nothing can be trusted. The structures we normally held onto for conscious or unconscious support have collapsed. Our minds have been fucked by the unnaturalness of the sudden and terrifying suicide of our loved one. But the structures are still in place for everyone else; their minds are still in tact. We are forced into this new reality alone. This reality shift, unfortunately, creates an empathic barrier between the immediate survivors and everyone else. Months after the death, other people’s lives have gotten back to normal, ours haven’t and may never in fact, be normal again. Unless they’ve gone through it, it’s impossible for anyone to know what this death (yours and your beloved) is like. Nothing anyone says or does helps; they’re offering help from another world- a world that no longer has any bearing on where we are. The old world goes on around us like nothing’s happened. But for us, time stands still on the day our beloved left. We are left alone in darkness trying to make some sense of a tragedy we didn’t ask for. Four months after John died, I was rudely awakened by the fact that it was my 3oth birthday. I couldn’t believe it; time had actually passed, life had continued, and somehow I had aged. And aged I had. While my friends were going about the humdrum of their  normal twentysomething/thirtysomething lives– work, school, partying, career planning, family building— as was appropriate for their stage in life, I felt like I was a hundred years old wrestling with emotions and facing my own mortality in ways beyond my 30 years of age. While I was figuring out how to breathe without my beloved or how to express my volcanic rage at my fucking life, my peers’ carefree chitchat, ironic joking, and conversations about pop culture, current events, or relationships seemed meaningless, frivolous, and insignificant. It was old world stuff. And I was too old to care. I had had a firsthand trip to hell and back; battling through my grief and scrounging up strength to find a will to live gave me a perspective about myself and about life that most people don’t quite find till later on or perhaps when their own parents pass on and they have to confront death.

As time goes by though, and the months turn into years, the sense of disconnect from others fades as the rawness of the wound has subsided and it’s no longer a bleeding hole front center on my chest. My trip to hell has faded somewhat into the background and I can choose to enjoy material world frivolity, play, and most importantly feel joy and humor in any capacity. In fact, the sense are heightened and the capacity for connection to life and its endless pleasures, and to people living with all ranges of suffering is deepened and expanded.

6. Suicide temptations.

One of the biggest factors that makes experiencing the loss of a loved one to suicide unique is that it inspires suicide ideation in its survivors. It is not widely known by most people, but in fact, according to the suicidology literature, if you have survived a suicide, you are at risk for your own suicide. On the suicide hotline where I worked, we specifically ask our callers if they are survivors to find out how likely they are to make their own attempt.  If you are a survivor, there’s a greater chance you might take your own life. The grief is that acute, that intense. Additionally, widows in general, are a group of people notoriously at risk for suicide. A suicide widow, therefore, is even more at risk for her own suicide.

Suicides in general, give others who are suffering permission to take their own. If someone else goes first other people in pain are more apt to follow. Hence the copycat suicide phenomenon. According to the Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles, suicides occur more frequently than homicides, however, the media doesn’t report the amount of suicides because of the tendency for people to mimic them. The more suicides are reported in the news, the more people make attempts.  And so too with the death of a very close loved one, especially a partner, spouse, husband/wife– the temptation to follow our loved one through the opened door of death is magnified and highly dangerous. In facing the suicide of a loved one we are confronting our own mortality. How badly do we want to live?; how badly do we want to die? Which desire wins out? Which carries more weight? If a beloved or child has died by suicide, half of our being has been murdered. The lingering question is how can we carry on with half a self? How do we repair and rebuild the missing half? It’s an enormous task and requires much strength, tenacity, and will power. And in the early days and weeks after a suicide (especially after funerals and memorials), when life feels so dark and cold, so lonely, we barely have the energy  to hold our bodies upright let alone rebuild. We have to somehow try to survive this danger zone until we find sufficient reserves within us to propel us forward and until we find deeper meaning to our loss and greater reasons to live. But until that time comes, the haunting, the desire to reunite with our loved ones, continues.

I hope these last three posts have resonated with all the survivors out there reading this and it helps you make some sense of what you’re experiencing and why it’s so painful. This is not an easy road. Please remember you are not the only one walking this path. Others around the world are going through their own grief and feeling the same kind of bleakness and suffering you feel. You must hold on. The pain does lessen, and in time, as you continue with your healing process (whatever form that may take – dance, prayer, meditation, writing, horse back riding, therapy, grief groups, meditation….) you will emerge a stronger, more whole version of yourself. So stay with it.

Sending much love and strength………………………………..xoxox

Sarah

As I wrote in the last post, I’ve noticed  6 aspects, from my experience, that make surviving the suicide of a close loved one a wholly unique grief process, different from other kinds of losses. Those 6 aspects are 1. terrifying, mind-blowing shock. 2. darkness. 3.  confusion. 4. guilt. 5. loneliness, isolation, alienation (disconnection from the norm and from peers). 6. Suicide temptations.

We covered the first three in the last post. And I don’t want to overwhelm you with so much writing (I know I can write too much and blog posts are supposed to be short, so i hear) here we are going to explore the fourth aspect of suicide grief, the big one- GUILT. Before we go there I just wanted to say that I have been extremely touched by all your comments, be it through this blog directly or through Facebook. I am deeply grateful for all your repostings and “Likings” on Facebook and it moves me tremendously to hear from you. So thank you and please always feel welcome to comment or send me a message!

 

4. Guilt: The guilt we experience in the wake of a suicide of a loved one feels like a 100 pound boulder suffocating and clamoring down on our chest. The instant we hear of our loved one’s act, our minds snap to thousands of thoughts about what we could have done to save him/her. without a seconds hesitation, we take our loved one’s choice onto our own shoulders. “Why didn’t I do this…?” “I should have done that….” “If only I had done…..” or “If only I hadn’t done….” The inner wrestling begins immediately. Everything somehow becomes our fault. The “if onlys” can go on forever, haunting us and torturing our waking and sleeping realities. We can play out the last weeks of our loved one’s lives over and over again and each time revise and tweak something we remember having said or done that maybe, quite possibly, if done differently, could have reversed their fate, and reversed our own. This mental editing is torture. In some ways it is a form of bargaining. It’s a way of blaming ourselves, taking over-responsibility for another’s fatal choice, and it reinforces a lack of self-forgiveness, over and over again. It also subtly tells us that we are somehow more than human; that somehow we could have played god, had more control over another than in fact we had, and super-imposed our version of what we think should have happened for another person’s destiny or soul’s purpose onto their life.

 

 

We are merely human: It’s a stark and sobering lesson to unpack, and may come with time (certainly not in the early weeks after a suicide). We do not have the power to save another in such a way; our hands are tied.

Yet the guilt can fester indefinitely. It can eat us up alive; casting a shadow on our own sense of worthiness. Unfortunately, this a “normal” and common after-effect of suicide. We all feel this in some ways after the suicide of our loved one. There are many lessons to learn in resolving our sense of helplessness and guilt over the deadly choices of another. Like with an alcoholic family member; everyone around him takes responsibility for his drinking, except him. So too with suicide. It’s a hard truth to see for a long time, but the one who took his own life is the one responsible for his choice. No one else.

I wish you the eyes to see this truth and the surrendering of any anger and self-hatred at the things you innocently did or said, or didn’t do or say in the weeks that led to your loved one’s departure. May your heart be filled with kindness for yourself and for all you’ve had to endure.

Gonna get to the last two aspects on the list in the next couple of posts.

Sending strength and self-forgiveness………………xoxo

Sarah

 

 

In response to last post’s comments I’ve been wondering about why it is I feel that not all human pain can be shared and empathized. Some experiences take us to a place that’s so foreign, dark, and alone; unless you’ve visited yourself it’s hard to know what it feels like. However, people who have experienced and overcome suffering from severe traumatic loss share a similar look in their eyes – a wounded twinkle; they stand with a warrior-like presence as they’ve fought the invisible horrors of existence. There’s an unspoken camaraderie a Knowing that’s shared about what it’s like to wander through hell and return alive.

Experiencing the death of a loved one to suicide, especially a partner and beloved, is a unique kind of loss with unique features for grieving. It’s an existential nightmare that rocks our very existence to the core. While as human beings we all have a shared language of emotions from which we can empathize feelings such as love, anger, guilt, heartbreak etc., experiencing the mind-blowing, heart shattering devastation and agony of surviving a suicide is a pain that cannot be imagined or fathomed unless you’ve experienced it yourself. It is not akin to breakups or deaths of other kinds; it is a Trauma and needs to be recognized and framed as such.

My intention is not to minimize anyone else’s pain, heartbreak or loss. As we meander through the trip of life, we each have our fair share of suffering; no one can determine whose pain or loss is the gravest, most painful, or most “special.” Ultimately, it’s how we handle and overcome our suffering and life challenges that makes us who we are and creates a life full of beauty, strength, and character. However, since this is a blog about suicide and I have experienced sudden loss of a beloved to suicide, I’ve come to know that surviving my beloved’s death was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever experienced and will ever experience. I am asserting, both on a personal and professional level, on behalf of myself, my readers, and my clients, that surviving a suicide of a close loved one, and the grief that ensues, is unique, different from other types of grief, death, and loss.  And here’s why:

Based on my own experience and reflection (these are not clinically researched findings), I’ve identified 6 aspects of survivor grief that make this type of loss specific and different and color the experience with a unique intensity that unless experienced firsthand, the magnitude of the pain and intensity is quite unimaginable.

These  6 aspects are 1. terrifying, mind-blowing shock. 2. darkness. 3.  confusion. 4. guilt. 5. loneliness, isolation, alienation (disconnection from the norm and from peers). 6. Suicide temptations.

I’ll explain the first three here and elaborate on the rest in the next post.

1. Terrifying Mind-Blowing Shock: The death of anyone or any traumatic life changing event causes shock. The actuality of the disappearance of someone you just saw, spoke to, touched or hugged does not make sense. One day they are here and the next day they are not; they have vanished into the ethers never to be seen or return again. While this concept can be understood conceptually and intellectually, it has a very different effect when it happens, in real life, to you.  That alone is unfathomable and mind-blowing. With a suicide, however, the fact that your loved one conspired behind your back, presumably for quite some time, to take his/her own life and murdered his/her own body is a terrifying reality (and betrayal) that challenges the very biological/physiological, moral, social, intellectual, psychological fiber of our being. We are hard-wired to survive and the fact that a person over-rid this programming a) speaks to the amount of pain he was in, and b) is horrifying in the unnaturalness of this act. And even if you have an open mind about suicide and can understand on an intellectual or empathic level why someone would choose to take their life; even if you understand that being here is a choice and so too leaving here is a choice, it does not take away, minimize, or soothe the shock and terror of the reality that someone you knew and loved succeeded at crossing the huge invisible boundary between life and death. All the constructs we’ve held onto in order to make sense of the world come crashing down into darkness. All we thought we knew about life is over. Nothing is stable. Our minds are blown out as we try to make sense of a reality we no longer recognize.

2. The Darkness: There is nothing light about suicide. The act of suicide speaks to the amount of pain, darkness, and suffering our loved one felt. People who love life and who feel good simply do not kill themselves. Unfortunately, when our loved ones take their lives, they leave behind a legacy of their pain and suffering. We inherit their darkness. And it’s like a never-ending night with no dawn, no twilight; like a vortex of pain that swallows us up. And each time we try to understand the whys and the hows of what they did we get sucked into the vortex of pain that instigated their attempt and remains to haunts their act. Every time I imagined John walking to the train tracks and laying down beside them wearing his sleep mask, I was wracked with waves of terror and agony that plunged me deeper into the dark, deeper down into hell. In my quest to understand why he took his life I couldn’t help but review his death march in my mind over and over again. I must have relived the morning of his death thousands of times. This is a kind of darkness, existential and cutting, that knows no other. I’ve mentioned before in other posts, the darkness we experience is proportionate to the light and brighter sense of aliveness and joy we will feel when we come out of the darkness.

3. Confusion: The confusion following a suicide is tremendous. What happened? How did this happen? How could he really do it? Why didn’t he tell me about any of this? Why did he choose that method of all the ways to kill yourself? How much pain and suffering was he in? Why didn’t anything I/we did or said help? Why wasn’t I enough? What more could I have done to help him? How could I have saved him? How could he do this? How could he really do this? How could he actually f*ing doing this? How did he do this? The stream of unanswered questions is endless. And will be, forever. Even if our loved ones leave a note, it barely answers our questions; questions that will never have answers. The confusion and terrifying mind-blowing shock reinforce one another until our minds become complete blanks and nothing is known anymore.

Added to the confusion about the motivation and execution of the suicide is a deeper layer of existential confusion. Who are we now that the limits of our own mortality have violently been challenged, erasing our minds into nothing? How do we actually have the capability to stop our hearts from beating? And what the f*ck does this mean? How important is our life, actually? Is it precious or expendable? How do we go on living without our beloved? How do we make it through the day knowing there is a way out, a pathway our loved one forged, and if we just follow it we can be with our partner/loved one again? Why do we bother going through the motions of life? Why do we bother trying to help ourselves, trying to function, or maybe one day healing and living a so-called “happy healthy life?” What’s the point? What’s the use? Why bother getting back to the world of the living when no one understands? Why get involved in another relationship when it won’t compare to the one you lost, no one can compare to the person you are permanently and involuntarily separated from? Why get attached to people when at any moment your beloved can disappear into thin air? How do we make meaning of this kind of loss, this kind of abandonment, and the irreversible permanency of what has been done? How do we assuage the gaping wound of missing someone we can never see again?

If you are a survivor, I’d love to hear about your experience and if what I’ve written rings true for you. I hope this helps give you a context for some of what you are experiencing. I hope you know you are not the only one in your own existential hell. If you are a therapist, healer, or friend of someone who has lost a close loved one to suicide, I hope reading about the experience offers you ways of being supportive and understanding that perhaps you hadn’t considered before.

In the next post I’ll expand on the other aspects of suicide grief, so check back.

Sending strength……………………………xoxox

Sarah

(P.S. Thanks to blog reader John’s comments for prompting me to think about these things in-depth )

Claiming the Will to Live

February 23, 2011

How can you use your anger to empower and fuel your will to live and help you feel driven to actualize in the world?

I’ve mentioned before in this blog that my biggest breakthroughs in healing my grief over John’s suicide and my own longings to take my life to be with him in death, happened through my anger.

Back in June 2009, I was at one of the lowest points in my grief. I desperately did not want to continue on another day without John. I was too tired and in too much agony. It was a series of  things though, that collided at the same time and snapped me out of my depression and my longing to die.

The first thing was that I had been working with two different therapists. One was a transpersonal therapist trained in grief and loss, and the other was a Jungian expert who helped me understand the imagery behind the vivid dreams I was having. For several weeks, with both therapist, we talked about the patterns I have in relationship with men: my tendency to overextend myself to take care of and to meet the man’s emotional needs while my partner rarely tends to my feelings. We explored how this was the case with John, as I was always trying to rescue him, and this was the case in other past relationships. In relationships, I was rarely attended to on an emotional level and we fleshed out what it might look like otherwise. As an exercise in tending to my own needs, the Jungian analyst had me call a friend at the end of the day and tell her about every little thing I did that day, and every piece of food I ate. She told me to baby myself to someone else in this way. {Me being the overly self-reliant independent person that I am- of course I didn’t bother a friend with the minutiae of my day (we have Facebook for that), rather I journaled about it to myself…}

The next thing that happened was my friend Ben came over and played a recording he’d found where he interviewed John and me about our relationship for a Couple’s Therapy class. At first I was nervous about hearing John’s deep rumbling voice again, thinking I might lose it and never find my way back to wholeness again, but as we listened to the audio together, something shifted. I listed with a clinical distance and rather than being absorbed in the pain and loss, I was able to observe the process of John and my communication and the subtle nuances in our dynamic that I had never noticed before. In hindsight, given his death, I, ironically, had a better understanding of his words and the gaps in between his words. What he didn’t say spoke more to me than what he did say.

It was quite an awakening to observe and really hear in the recording how passionate and committed I was about our relationship. I could hear the love and enthusiasm in my voice. But what about John? He said some nice loving things but for the most part his answers were short and guarded and seemed to be dancing around really saying what he truly felt. I could hear his fear. I noticed he avoided making a direct or complete and honest statement about us; I noticed his lack of commitment to me and avoidance of planning a future with me. As I had been talking about in therapy, I was giving 100% and he wasn’t matching that, let alone meeting me halfway.

I had been willing to give up my life- to kill myself, for a man who could not honestly tell me what he was feeling, and speak with vigor about our relationship while he was alive. Clearly he would not have reciprocated my passion and given up his life to be with me, as is evident by the very fact that I was not enough of a reason for him to stay. How’s that for overextending myself? How dare he take his life and leave me behind in so much pain? It was then, hearing me talk with such love, that I realized how worthy I am, how I deserve so much more than what I’d received. I resonated with the self I heard on the audio and felt appreciation and compassion for her and all she had given to her beloved, all her love and efforts that had gone in vain, and for the pain John’s dishonesty and fear had caused her. I saw clearly how all the qualities that he lacked: passion, honestly, courage, commitment, devotion, dedication…. are the qualities that I have. All that time, I had been idealizing him and imbuing him with qualities of a saint, when the evidence in front of me did not accurately reflect the truth. Hell no was I going to throw my life away for someone who did not meet me half way, who did not consider my feelings when he took his life, and left me behind to deal with the devastating aftermath.

The third thing that happened, and this one is kinda quirky, was that that very week Michael Jackson passed away. I was shocked to hear he died, but I was also more shocked because three months earlier I had a dream that he died. In my dream he died in a football stadium due to a heart attack. I have this dream written down in my dream journal from March 2009. It is plainly documented in between other dreams. And as it turned out he died of a cardiac arrest and his memorial was held at a stadium.

So it was like  “holy shit, what the –?” And then *snap- I felt fired up, confident, and refueled with my own self-worth. I do have gifts! I do have talents. I always knew I had some psychic abilities, and during the course of that year I had several very significant dreams that came true, but Michael Jackson’s death was confirmation of my abilities for me. Maybe there is some reason why I’m here, why these things are happening, that I’m of value. And if I have these  extraordinary kinds of gifts, am I really going to go giving this all away, continue my negative patterns with men, overextend myself to meet them and be with them, and in the extreme version of this- give up my life? Hell no!

These three revelations slapped me back into life, cementing my boots to the ground. As much as I love(d) John, there was no way that what he did was going to take me down too. I had too much to lose, too much I had been given, to much to give and too much that he didn’t have. I was not going to give it all up to be with a guy. I knew I deserved to be with a man who could match my qualities of love, commitment, passion, and care; a man who would willingly meet me half way or even overextend. A man who would never leave me this way. This I knew I wanted and owed myself.

And it was with that, that I got serious about myself and about my life. I got focused, disciplined, and rolled up my sleeves to get cracking on using my gifts to do whatever work I can do.

So ladies (and men – if relevant) – if you’ve been left behind by suicide, or broken-hearted in other ways, get self- righteous, get self-indignant. I bet the qualities lacking in your men who left you behind are the very qualities that you embody and the gifts you offer to the world. Do you also have the tendency to give up whatever you can for the man you love or to be with the man you love even though knowingly or unknowingly- he doesn’t meet you half way? And in fact walked the other way? Is it really worth sacrificing all that you are to follow a man into death? Don’t you think he should have at least stopped to consider your feelings for just a moment before he did what he did?

Dig in to your life; investigate the truth. Get angry and stake your claim in this world. You deserve to get what’s yours. Don’t give it up for anyone. Get what you came for.

rock bottom choices

February 22, 2011

There seems to be two kinds of people in the world: those that when they hit rock bottom contemplate suicide, and those that when they hit rock bottom would never even consider it in a million years.

I’ve always wondered why that is. Does anyone have any thoughts?

 

May love continue to flow through the cracks in your heart

 

 

 

the trashed schoolyard

February 2, 2011

My Wednesdays are spent channeling my inner teen (not hard to do given my penchant for Taylor Swift and boy-talk), and counseling some pretty amazing teenagers at a public high school here in Los Angeles. A colleague of mine calls it “working in a war-torn country.” I arrive home in the evenings, bedraggled, shoulders in knots, and thirsting for a glass of wine. Some days I’m so beat I have to nap in my car before I can drive home.

I don’t know how teenagers today deal with the chaos of our increasingly disconnected and fear-inducing world. By definition, teenagers are far more emotionally sensitive than most people, as they are still emerging from the emotional openness of birth and childhood; they’ve either learned to protect themselves and adapt to the unfairness and abuse around them by shutting down, withdrawing into their shells, becoming someone they’re not, or raging outwardly. They’re so vulnerable to the media and far more impressionable, sensitive to the moods and rhythms around them, then they realize. Throw in cell phone/texting addictions and junk food, the situation is a mess.

Walking into the high school each week is like entering Crisis Central. You never know what’s going to happen. The energy is scattered and explosive like a bomb could go off at any minute. Just knowing some of the student’s lives and what they deal with every day, it’s no wonder. Multiply that by the thousands of students enrolled at this one school and you have an emotionally and energetically dysfunctional, counterproductive, scary, stress-inducing environment to try and thrive, learn about who you are, and maybe figure out what to do when you graduate, if you graduate. By the end of lunch, the campus is covered in plastic wrappers, empty milk cartons, styrofoam plates, and leftover food scraps as seagulls swarm to feast. Multiply this image by thousands of public schools around the country. Is it any surprise that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24.

I’m inspired by my brave students slugging through the overcrowded fluorescent lit halls day after day, doing the best they can to play the shitty card of hands they’ve been dealt.

Adriana: eldest daughter of seven, brother in a gang, mother doesn’t speak English; she was innocent, but beaten to the ground by cops outside her house for their mistake. Honors student, working overtime since jr. high school taking extra course work every Saturday and summer to guarantee her a college scholarship, now has to contend with the possibility of a permanent mark on her record for a crime she didn’t commit.

Amber: sassy, warm mother-hen you want as your girl-friend. She’ll be right by your side the second you need her. Dad on death-row at San Quentin for murder, mom passed away from drug related suicide. First time I met her she wore her mother’s green felt blanket around her. Now lives in an abusive house with her dad’s relatives: they have black skin, her’s is white. She sleeps in her great-grandmother’s bed every night for safety. She stays in this house to make sure her great-gran is ok.

Deshaunna: smart and determined, her parents were killed in a car accident this past New Years Eve by a drunk driver while she was at church with her friends. A month out, she hasn’t registered the loss; she lives with her 24-year-old sister. This week she was promoted to captain of her cheer team.

Shamiul: 15-year-old prodigy going on thirtysomething from Bangladesh whom I talk to with like a peer; actually, he talks with more depth,  self-awareness, spiritual and psychological sophistication and insight than most people my age. Musical genius, so cool, but he doesn’t know it, yet. Father walked out on his mother, shaming the community. He and his mom lived in a homeless shelter for some time. He has a park bench in his bedroom.

I could go on and on, as I have other students as well. I’m in awe and want to send a huge shout out to all you teenagers and “young adults” out there internalizing the burdens of our society, the burdens of your parent’s ignorance, and shivering yourself into form each day, holding on, and making it through this often-time gruesome stage of life. My teenage years were filled with depression and drug use, but that’s another story perhaps for another time; I can’t imagine how the pain of being a teenager has magnified as the future has rushed forward. My heart goes out to you. Sending love, sending strength.