"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Out of the Darkness

Julie & Amy joining me when I picked up my race packet - May 14, 2010
There used to be three of us and we ran.  Now there are two of us, and we walk.  I never would have taken up running if it wasn’t for my sisters.  Amy and Julie ran many races together over the past several years.  In 2009, tired of cheering from the sidelines, I took up running so I could join them.  When the three of us ran our first half marathon together in August of that year, I imagined it was the first of many races we’d do together over the coming years.  Our joke was that we’d all be running races together as old women just for the free beer at the finish line!

Hugging Amy after she finished
the Ogden 1/2 Marathon - May, 2011

As it turns out, that was the only race the three of us ever ran together. The following Spring, Amy and Julie cheered me on from the sidelines when I ran the Ogden Half Marathon.  The year after that, Amy and I ran the Ogden Half together.  Julie was gone by then, her cheers from the sidelines only imagined as we carried her spirit with us down the winding canyon course and across the finish line. 
Next month, one week apart from each other, in two different states, Amy and I will be walking in Out of the Darkness Community Walks to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  We’ll walk to remember and honor our beloved Jules.  Most importantly, we’ll walk, along with the other suicide survivors who will join us, to call attention to suicide and its awful aftermath, in hopes that by bringing attention to suicide we can save lives.  We’ll also be walking in solidarity with other survivors, showing our strength in numbers, proving, simply by putting one foot in front of the other, that despite the almost incomprehensible pain that comes after someone you love kills themselves, life does go on.  It is possible to survive such a devastating loss, especially when other survivors are there to lend their strength, support, understanding and love.
Until recently, I didn’t understand how important and healing the support of other survivors could be.  In May, I started going to a weekly support group for suicide survivors.  As I wrote in this post, I wasn’t optimistic about how much I would gain from going.  My how things change!  When the group ended, I was sad to say goodbye to people that just six weeks earlier had been strangers.  Like soldiers who’ve done battle together, we bonded, forging connections through our shared experiences of loss, grief, depression, confusion, anger, sadness, and questioning.  Together we talked, cried, and laughed, learning about each other, our families, and those we lost to suicide. 
One day I struggled to explain to my mom how and why I thought the group had been so helpful and comforting to me.  I think this poem by Eloise Cole explains it best. 
Borrowed Hope
Lend me your hope for a while;
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily.
Pain and confusion are my companions.
I know not where to turn.
Looking ahead to the future times
Does not bring forth images of renewed hope.
I see mirthless times, pain-filled days, and more tragedy.

Lend me your hope for a while;
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Hold my hand and hug me,
Listen to all my ramblings.
I need to unleash the pain and let it tumble out.
Recovery seems so far and distant,
The road to healing, a long and lonely one.
Stand by me. Offer me your presence,
Your ears and your love.
Acknowledge my pain; it is so real and ever present.
I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.
Lend me your hope for a while.
A time will come when I will heal,
And I will lend my renewed hope to others.
The healing power of hope should never be underestimated. I’ll wake on September 8, knowing Amy will be walking in Colorado that day, taking an important step on her journey towards healing.  On September 15, I’ll be walking in Salt Lake City, lending my hope to others.  Every step I take that day will be a step out of the darkness, towards healing and hope, for me and for so many others. 

*If you’re interested in participating in an Out of the Darkness Community Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, go to www.outofthedarkness.org to find a walk in your area. 


  1. Always ALWAYS a tug on my heart when I read about Julie. I pray for continued healing. As you stated, "The healing power of hope should never be underestimated..."
    Love to you and your family,

    1. Thank you Jackie. Writing about Julie helps me. I'm grateful that you take the time to read what I write.

      Thank you for sending your love.

  2. What a great way to honor Julie's memory and help yourself and others. Good for you! You never know how your willingness to share your experience with suicide will impact someone else. Thanks for making the effort.

    1. It's true that I don't know how sharing my experience will help others. I have met so many wonderful people that I wouldn't have otherwise, just by sharing my experience as a survivor. We all help each other, which is a really nice thing.

  3. Keicha, this was a post I needed to read right now. I am copying the poem to share with a friend whose son recently took his life. Al was Greg's friend since kindergarten and it's been hard to watch this young man deal with his grief. I think this poem will help Rachel. I so admire how you are honoring and remembering Julie with this. Thank you for sharing it and letting us walk with you.

    1. Jeanie, I'm so glad you saw this post when you did. I hope the poem helps your friend. Please let her know I'm here for her if she ever wants to talk to a fellow survivor. You have my email.

      Take care. XO


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