This past week someone who was very loved within our community passed away, sadly by taking his own life. I personally didn’t know him, but many of my close friends did. As they were consoling one another, my friend Diane Iannacone posted her thoughts on Facebook and it really touched my heart.
She said, “I know we all can feel down but please friends, if you are depressed, reach out and don’t feel like you have to take everything on yourself. I know for myself, I would never want to bother anyone, but tonight we lost a friend who didn’t want to bother anyone, and we all wish he would have bothered one of us. We will never know why, we will just miss him forever.”
After consoling Diane, I told her how powerful her words were. She then told me more details of the story. She went with a friend to see him just a couple days before the tragedy, and although he made some depressing comments, this person still seemed to be in good spirits.
So no one was the wiser.
That’s why in retrospect it was so sad because he didn’t fully open up or show his true feelings, which maybe would’ve helped him deal better with the emotions he was going through at the time.
I asked a few of my friends for their opinions on this topic and I got some great responses.
“As you may know, my philosophy is to share,” said my friend, Marilyn Kleinberg. “Not to complain, not to seek sympathy, and not to dwell on the negative. It is to share so that others that have no voice [for fear of sounding foolish or a failure] find one. So that others that are mired in negativity find an opening in all the muck that lets new light and new opportunities be shared. I am an open book and I hope that my pages are read and shared by others. By sharing my mistakes, I have gained the wisdom and support of others.”
What Marilyn said is spot on. Being open about your feelings and sharing your life experiences, chances are there are others in the same boat and by hearing your stories it can help them get over their own issues and realize that they are not alone.
I try to remember that the idea of sharing your feelings before a tragedy is just as important as sharing after the tragedy happens. At that point, it is also a rough time for us to open up to one another because we all want to be strong inside or even be strong for someone else, but according to another good friend and colleague of mine, Janet Garraty, allow yourself to express your emotions. Her quote says it best:
“As part of my family’s Irish Catholic traditions, we are taught at a young age not to share our feelings so as to not burden others with our grief, as well as always reminding yourself that the person who passed is now with the Lord, and therefore better for it. Irish wakes epitomize this tradition with trying to create a party atmosphere around the occasion. While I follow those traditions and have even taught them to my children, they can also inhibit your own grieving process by denying yourself the right and need to mourn. This can have destructive consequences, i.e. depression, alcoholism, binge eating and neglective treatment of other loved ones in your life. So please share when you lose someone. It’s not a sign of weakness and please listen to others. You never know to what extent that can help.”
If you take away anything from this column, just know that when you are feeling depressed or down, try not to internalize too much. Find a friend to share your feelings with and ask for good advice. Because after all, as Suzanne Hazlett put it matter-of-factly in response to my Facebook question, “Friends are those who are there for us without having to be asked. If someone is ‘bothered’ by your troubles, that person is not your friend.”
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.