April Showers…

This week has been a specifically hard week for me. Actually the month of April is always a bit much for me emotionally. I spend much of April being mindful to stay busy so that I do not sit around idly thinking about why April is so difficult for me. However, this week, I was forced to slow down a little & address emotions I have spent the past 6-10 years avoiding. April signifies a sad period for me. Every year I am faced with the realization that in 2009 & 2013 I have lost 2 people very dear to me to gun violence. Both were too young to not be walking this earth so many years later. Although they were not perfect or without sin, they both were overall amazing people. Neither one of them lived a life that was expected to turn out this way; however, both lived a life that was left behind for those who loved them to mourn over. As often as I have tried to move past it; oddly enough, the recent death of an impactful visionary, rapper & community activist opened up the wound of emotions I had barely scabbed over all these years. To be honest, the passing of a loved one is always hard on those left behind but there is a different type of emptiness & vulnerability when the person is murdered. It is as if someone has robbed you of more time, more memories, more interaction– a feeling that never goes away. I would never wish what I feel on my worst enemy because although life does go on; so do the unanswered answers to questions on how it could have been prevented What is crippling though, is that this violence that often leaves families in mourning, children without parents, lovers without love & parents burying their children will never end.

My heart aches.

There are not enough rest in peace t-shirts, social hashtags & media posts to erase the reality that too often there is “another front step with flowers” & too many premature tomb stones to be visited. Despite this, the message does not appear to come across clear enough that we must stop killing each other. This violence has to stop. Someone’s life is being taken as easily as it is for most of us to wake up & breathe each day. There is no regard for the lives of others or those they leave behind. We are losing each other for things that can be settled outside of irreversible violence & definite ends. There are too many egos and broken spirits walking around, sharing & spreading that energy. We are a broken generation that only knows how to be broken & to pass it on. When a life is taken there is a continuation of generational misfortune– the children of the murderer & murdered both have to experience their lives without their loved one, which forces them to be influenced by other examples that are not their parents; both sides of the family lose someone to gun violence whether the people directly involved were the victim or perpetrator. Why does this keep happening to our babies & our families? Why must this be the example set for our communities? It crushes me to my core that the only solution to correcting a disagreement has been to take someone’s life. Someone’s life, no matter how sh***y they have chose to live it, is still valuable.

Oh, so valuable.

I can assure you that the people left to mourn for them agree. Because my goodness, the riches I would pay just to bring them back to live their lives the way they were supposed to has no max. I would pay the financial price, if I could– even if it put me in debt. Unfortunately though, there are no shortcuts in heaven & someone decided to take it upon themselves to send them there early. This continues to happen. I am disgusted that this is what it has come to. I am discouraged because no matter how many “stop the violence” messages are shared, the impact of these messages are temporary. I mourn because as my life continues, there is another part of their lives that they will never get to see. I thank the lord that this is not an experience I have felt often, but others are not so fortunate. As this continues to happen more people are faced to live their lives without someone they never imagined they would have to live without. Yet some how the realization that we are oppressing ourselves continues to be missed. We cannot take a moment for granted. We have to pray hard over our loved ones because they will never tell us everything they experience, the interactions they may or may not have or the people they encounter on a day-to-day that can end up being the reason we have to say our goodbyes. The ache I feel as I write this weakens me. I struggle because the realization settles in reminding me that this behavior is not going to get better. People are barely even living their lives before seeing the inside of a casket & we act as if this is the normal. This is a disgrace! We should want more! We deserve more! They deserved more!

As a people, we have more to do with our time on this Earth. Yet, some are not even allowing people to get into their purpose or make the impact they could before deciding their time is up. We have to diligently encourage others to do better- to want more, to make strong impacts while they are here. We have to remind them that their life is not only for them but that — we, as their loved ones, live for them too. We need to work on generational healing– depression, poverty imposed hardship, PTSD, toxic masculinity, deep rooted aggression, failure to recognize worth, egocentric desires— by promoting — talking about our issues, seeking help from capable professionals, & reminding each other that it is ok to love & walk away.

Most importantly, we need to understand that all actions do not require a reaction, especially reactions that are so definite.

Rest in Heaven:

Sergio Rivera
(2009)
&
Alvin Tyree Cushion
(2013)


“They hope the example I set ain’t contagious”- Nipsey Hussle (2019)

I am sorry that someone did not value your lives like the way we, who loved you, did. You deserved more than what you received.

Check On Your People

RoseGood morning conglomerates! Happy Sunday! Today I want to touch base on a topic I have been wanting to discuss for a few months now but I was unsure how to approach the topic. Today, I decided the message has to get to someone & awareness needs to be spread. A few years ago, beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams committed suicide. On June 5, 2018, fashion designer Kate Spade did so as well. A few days later, a 61 year old celebrity ended his life prematurely. Although not new, the revelation that celebrities are commiting suicide has taken social media by storm. Suicide is not a new pandemic but in a society like the one we live in, it is treated like a taboo. Suicide is a topic that is not discussed or remembered unless it is committed by a figure in the public eye.

Today, I want to remind you that suicide is VERY real. It is not a situation that only occurs to people we do not know or on television. Sadly, suicide can hit really close to home; even if we do not know it. The thought to commit suicide plagues the lives of people often. A few months ago, I wrote a memoir reminding you all to Nurture Your Mental Health.  I expressed the importance of not being ashamed to speak up when you are not feeling like yourself or if assistance is needed. I encouraged you to ignore the judgemental statements of those who contribute to the ignorance of society.  I asked that you mindfully & gently put the care of yourself & your loved ones first. I reminded you not to be ashamed of your mental health status & to remember that despite how you feel or your diagnosis that you are “normal“. Sadly, people’s mental state has led them to  pursue a definite & irreversible fate, if accomplished. It is heart wrenching that the only way people feel they can pursue peace is by making such a final decision that does not allow them to keep living.

To give you an idea:

  • Nationally, 44,193 reported suicides
  • Rate 121.1/day
  • 33,984 of all male deaths were by suicide
  • 10,199 all female deaths were by suicide
  • A person has committed suicide every 11.9 minutes
  • For every one suicide, there have been 25 attempted suicides
  • Though men are 3.5 more likely to successfully commit suicide than women, women attempt 3 times more than their male counterparts

So to fullfill our moto & live our best lives we have to understand that living our best lives does not only apply to our own personal lives but to the lives of our loved ones. Today, I ask that a group effort is made to actively check in on one another. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget that people are fighting internal battles that they may not express to us. What we may see as outlashing or withdraw may actually be a cry for assistance. Often, those who are suicidal feel they are a burden in the lives of others & fail to reach out on their own. Therefore, we can save them, what seems to us as a a small step, & reach out to them instead. Many times we allow our pride to get in the way. We write a person off as “attention seeking” or selfish when we do not hear from them. We never stop to think that maybe their struggle has nothing to do with us but everything to do with their inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Though we have not all had suicidal ideation; we have all had periods when we have felt alone, unloved & unwanted. So gently checking on them can save us alot of heartache in the future & get them the help that they need in the long run.

Though the signs may not always be evident. Certain indicators can alert us that an individual is in acute danger & may urgently need help.

  • Talks about wanting to die or kill themselves
  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness or having no purpose
  • Expresses feeling trapped or being unbearable pain
  • Concerned they are a burden to others
  • Increase in substance use (alcohol & drugs)
  • Anxious, agitated or reckless behavior
  • Little or too much sleep
  • Withdrawing & feeling isolated
  • Exhibiting rage or expresses a need to seek revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

With that being said, make a conscious decision to “drop a line” to someone you have not heard from in a while or you feel may be acting differently. Though their behavior may effect you negatively or you simply may be overwhelmed with your own life; some people have a harder time doing stepping away from their misery. Although they may not thank you now, I have no doubt that they will thank you later. You never know how your small gestures can help someone finally see the light they are so desperate to see. Calling in & acknowledging we are thinking of them can be the first step to the intervention they desperately need. For this purpose, I will ensure to include resources at the bottom of this memoir if you feel they can help save someone’s life.

Now, if you are the person who I am referring to in this memoir & you feel that there is no way out of your predicament; I want to assure you that you can get through it. Though you may not feel like it, the world will be a very different place if you were not here living in it. Your life is valuable. You are not a burden & there are people on this Earth that love you & will miss you desperately if you were gone. Your story & your life matters. Despite feeling how you feel, you are worthy of happiness. Unfortunately, joy & pain are realities of life so please try to understand that your pain & sadness will come to an end. Even if it feels like it, it will not last forever. You are a SURVIVOR & capable of so much more than you think. Seek help. There are people who are trained to care for you & provide treatment that is made specifically for you. Please do not give up. Do not be ashamed. You deserve everything you want for yourself & more. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Please refer to the resources I have included below. There is someone that will be more than willing to help you.  To remind you that your life is worth living, I have included the story of a suicide survivor who describes feeling much like you do at the lowest point of his life. Use it to remind yourself that you are not alone.

Kevin Hines, Suicide Survivor

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Please be advised, if assistance is needed you can receive initial assistance from your primary care provider. If there is an urgent situation, calling 9-1-1 can assist you with getting what you need immediately. Also, other resources to assist are listed below. Please feel free to reach out to them for assistance.

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727)

Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

I know many of my subscribers are located in NJ. I have also included resources that are available in the South Jersey area.

NJ Hopeline Call Center 1-855-654-6734

Camden County Screening Center 1-856-428-4357

Gloucester County Screening Center 1-856-845-9100

Second Floor Youth Helpline 1-888-222-2228

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Image obtained from: https://www.owlcube.com/products/beauty-and-the-beast-rose-easy-3d-diy-diamond-painting-kits-owlcube-canvas-wall-art?variant=52901646724

Statistics: Foundation For Suicide Prevention: More Than Sad

Dealing with Loss

Dealing with LossIn one way or another we hope that at some point in our lives we do not have to experience losing a loved one. Though it may cross our minds briefly, one never truly is prepared to deal with losing someone dear to them. In 2009, I had my first experience. I lost a friend to gun violence at a local community center to someone he never met a day in his life. In 2013, I fell into a deep depression when I lost a brother figure to another senseless act of violence. In December 2016, my family dealt with it’s first blow when my uncle lost his sudden fight with stage IV cancer exactly a week after his birthday. Though I can say I have been blessed not to have a lot of final losses in my life; it still hurts me just the same.

In all three of these scenarios I have gone through what they call the grieving process; however the order of the process, I have been through it. As ugly as it has been, I am getting through it. Because truth is, from my experience, the grieving process never ends. As life goes on without my loved ones, I have learned to accept that they are no longer with us. Though with time it gets a little easier & I may not think of them every day as I did initially; their absence rings loudest to me during celebratory events they are no longer here for. Eventually pictures of them start to age & all we have left are the memories. With that being said, in all 3 scenarios, at some point, I was riddled with regret wishing there was more time to spend with them & tell them that I loved them with a wish that I could have done something to prevent the inevitable.

In life, unfortunately as we get older we start realizing that death is not so uncommon & that loss gets closer to our hearts. The passing of our grandparents, friends, siblings, parents & children start to plague us but some how we are expected to get through the day. Our jobs gives us 3 days & we are told by whomever, with whatever letters behind their names, that generally the true grieving process, from start to finish, takes about a year. Bless the soul this is true for because it surely is not true for me. Sometimes I am crushed thinking of the experiences they may never get to experience or the things they will never get to see. I get moved to melancholy or joy when I hear certain songs or if the weather is a certain way.

I tell myself often that had I known I would lose them when I did I would have prepared myself. I would have cherished every moment & though I was as good as I could have been while they were here on earth, somehow I often feel I could have been better. But then I realize, I truly gave them the best version of myself I could have because what I gave them was me; genuinely. They got all of me even if it was for a shorter period of time. They saw the real, the raw & the ugly. They have seen the good & the bad. Shoot, sometimes they even felt it. But it was authentic. They got the sides of me that I do not believe they would have seen if I prepared myself for them leaving so soon.

So today, I tell you that if you have not dealt with loss yet, sadly, one day you will. If you are dealing with loss please keep this in mind. Despite what may cross your mind, I want you to know that there is nothing you could have done to prevent this. I also want you to know that regardless of how hard it is you can not stop living because they have; they would not want it that way. Instead, we have to live in their memory. Live for them. Have the experiences they would not be able to have but relish in your moments to your fullest. It is not realistic of me to tell you not to be sad & I will not bore you with cliches telling you why you should not be sad. Instead, I say be sad; feeling every emotion, whether sad or happy, it keeps them alive. It is ok to feel out of sorts & it is ok to miss them. It is also ok to wonder if life’s little miracles are small gestures from them telling you they are ok. It is ok to be hopeful that they are with you & watching over you. Most importantly, it is ok to LOVE them more each day they are gone because it is YOU who keeps them alive. I urge you though, do things at your own time. Do not rush your healing by the timeline of someone else. Instead, accept the pitfalls & the lows. If you need assistance getting through the hurdle it is ok to seek it. Strive to do anything that allows you to be your best self, even if your best self seems so far away. You will come around. It is hard now, it will be hard later but it is how you evolve in these moments that will make those who have passed on proud.

XO.

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