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There is a time for everything.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. –Ecclesiastes 3

This is always my November quote. Every year, it means something different to me. For example, what jumped out at me was:…”a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…” We’re not supposed to hug are we? Covid rules that are practical and follow science, take away from all of us, hugs. For survivors who need MORE hugs and human interaction, this makes grieving even harder.

As new survivors, our emotions are all over the place. The very things we need we cannot have. The person we need is no longer there. How do we then connect? We are going through lock-downs, masks, social distancing. As part of the human race, every person in every country is feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and, often, defeated. Did we ever think we’d be living as we are today?

SOS meetings were held outdoors during nice weather but then we had to make the decision to meet via Zoom. Are any of us happy with this? NO! And, yet, it’s still a way to connect. We need one another. WE need hugs, conversation, a hand on a hand. Right now, to be safe, it is advised that we deny ourselves – and others – this. In its place, we have Zoom. We can still talk, see faces, and share our thoughts. This is not ideal but just think how joyful we will be when this is all behind us, and we meet at the church meeting room again.

Many people have enjoyed the summer of warmer weather and outdoor gatherings. Many, if not all, of us have dreaded the darkness and chill of winter. I’ve said many times that when we are new grievers, we are in the winter of our soul.

How are we to manage? We can talk on the telephone and Zoom with one another. We can write letters. We can offer ourselves and what we’ve learned and gained through our experience as survivors. New survivors continue to call the office and come for sessions or set up video sessions online.

“Outreach” will be a phone call or a Zoom meeting or a letter written. We still have those things! “A time to weep and a time to laugh”. New survivors wonder if they’ll ever laugh again. The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” The beginning of this journey is filled with days and days of tears; our eyes burn and out hearts ache. The midpoint of this journey is softer but we still cry, we still yearn, we still ache.

There IS no endpoint to this journey we call grief. Life returns to something different than it was before our loved one died but it isn’t the same as it was. It’s been 41 years for me. I still ache at times, I still cry at times, I continue to remember with sadness. But joy is also a part of my life as it is yours.

“A time to tear and a time to mend.” Our hearts broke. Our hearts split right down the middle. Our hearts are mending but just as a bone that was broken heals, that break still shows in x-rays. Picture your hearts ripped apart and then haphazardly and awkwardly sewn back together.

The holidays are upon us. Those will be strikingly different as well. You have survived the worse that can happen: someone you loved died by suicide. You will survive this horrible, unpredictable pandemic. We are all grieving things as they are now. Take care of YOU. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t judge yourself. Cry, laugh, stomp around. Take walks. Listen to lively or soothing music. Cry. Rejoice in what you still have while mourning what you don’t. People are still dying by suicide. New survivors need those of us furtherdown-the-road.

Our “family” is strong together. Reach out. Write someone a note today. Give someone a call today (yes, a REAL phone call, not a text or email!) Facetime or Zoom someone.

My hand, as always, is reaching out to you-grab onto it and grab onto the hands of your fellow survivors (virtually, of course!) We have not gone away. We are still here. Remember the love that was and that continues to be. “They” are not physically here with us but they are always with us….

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