I realize it has been some time since I posted so I wanted to fill you guys in on what has been happening with BrandBEAST.
Let me start off with my decision to retire from the automotive industry after 7 long years. It was nerve-wracking but by far the best decision I could’ve made. Events that have transpired within the past year have made me realize that my talents are best served in doing good so I have dedicated myself to volunteering for causes that are close to my heart.
The first has been my work with Survivors of Suicide Hampton Roads, a branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here locally. Their resources have been invaluable to me in this first year as a suicide bereaved widow and mother. I participated in their Out of Darkness Walk last year just 6 days after losing Tony and was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of survivors like myself. It was an enlightening experience. Unfortunately this year I was physically unable to participate in the walk as the grief was just too much; thankfully, I was lucky to have friends who attended on my behalf. Between these two years I have been able to raise over $1000 benefiting local resources for suicide prevention here in Hampton Roads but, more importantly, I have finally managed to be able to openly speak of Tony’s suicide, the loss, and how I am picking up the pieces in the hopes no one else should have to feel the despair he did or be left with the pain that I carry. I look forward to expanding my work with them entering 2016 as this upcoming year’s walk will take place on September 10th, 2016, Tony and I’s mutual birthday, coinciding with National Suicide Prevention Day and National Suicide Prevention Week.
In October of this year I joined another cause close to both Tony and I by becoming the Marketing Coordinator Volunteer for Samaritan House VA. They are a trusted resource for domestic violence victims here locally with services including education and training on preventing violence, safety planning and court assistance, as well as resources to promote healing for victims and their families. Samaritan House is Virginia’s largest emergency housing provider serving the community since 1984. In this short amount of time I’ve been able to coordinate my first donation drive which resulted in over 20 bags of clothing/shoes and household items, over 5 bags of canned/boxed food items for their pantry, and 2 boxes of toys! I have another holiday drive already in the works and have been actively participating in collecting raffle items for their Tacky Holiday Sweater Party, which will be their final fundraising event for 2015, taking place the first week of December.
I think it’s safe to say I’ve been busy! But amazingly this is a different kind of busy. I no longer wake up dreading the tasks ahead but rather find myself excited at the possibilities. I am networking more and making connections I never did while in the corporate world. Plus, I’m spending much more time with my son and it’s amazing how much I used to miss out on. I don’t know what the future holds for BrandBEAST but I certainly hope that it keeps me feeling the way I do right now.
Modeled after the military buddy system used on the field, participants were asked to reach out to a Veteran today to “check in” on them and see how they’re doing. Via call, text, Facebook/Instant Message hundreds took time out today to lend an ear to those in need. So what’s with the 22 you ask?
Well, statistically 22 veterans A DAY end their lives by suicide plagued by the wounds of war and the difficult transitions into civilian life. I was invited to the event by my very own best friend who is a veteran herself. She’s overseas currently so I messaged her through Facebook. She’s had a lot going on in her life and, without hearing her voice, I could tell she appreciated the gesture. And that’s just it…
One call, one text, one message, one visit, one small and simple moment can change the course of someone’s day… Someone’s life even. And social media helped make that happen. Social media as a tool for connection and inspiration?
After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death.
In 2011, it was the 5th leading cause of death according to the CDC.
I see a problem here.
Now, it’s the 3rd. But it is severely underfunded and, despite such a prominent loss of life to suicide like Robin Williams’ tragic death just last year, still doesn’t get the attention it desperately deserves.
Sure, it’s a touchy subject. We still don’t understand how immense and overwhelming the pain must be to cause someone to see death as the only viable option to its end. We don’t know enough about the mind to truly help those in need and, there’s the stigma that plagues mental health.
"It's all in your head..."
It’s become perfectly acceptable to joke about it (shoot me now… I’m so bipolar… You’re so mental …) But please don’t think you can actually ADMIT that you really do have a problem because, well, that’s a problem.
Thanks for the help?
See, we don’t know how to deal with the issue and it’s too tough to tackle so we’d rather ignore the issue altogether and pretend it doesn’t exist until something tragic happens. Then, and only then, will we accept that mental health and suicide is a real viable issue.
It’s #sinceriously time for #meaningfuldiscussions about #mentalhealth and #suicide prevention. #speakup #giveavoice #bethelight #endthestigma
Today marks a bittersweet day in my life. It’s my birthday… One I used to share with my husband Tony. But today, one year after he ended his life, I celebrate it alone… Again. This isn’t his first birthday in heaven but it feels different from last year’s.
This day last year was the first time I found out there was a World Suicide Prevention Day. It struck me that it fell on the same day as our mutual birthday and I couldn’t bear the thought of their connection… The day he was born with the means by which he died. In anger I didn’t acknowledge the day and instead chose to ignore it.
This morning was different. I woke up with purpose and posted a tribute video to Tony and all those who, like him, suffered through immeasurable pain and despair. I wholeheartedly believe that Tony, as well as those like him who end their lives much too soon, did not want to die. He wanted to end his pain, pure and simple. The difference is that, like him, death was the only way to escape.
And that to me is the most heartbreaking burden to bear, but I’ll carry it with me until my last breath… For him.