A very hard week.

Cameron black and white

Hey everybody. I was working on a different post for this week but it was sidelined when our family got hit with a devastating event.  The hubster’s nephew, an extraordinary, loving, and gifted young man, took his own life Sunday night and everything since then has been aftermath.  His parent’s did everything conceivable to get him help and prevent this from happening but in the end his illness overpowered all the rest.  My mind is whirling with all the things that could and should be said about what’s happened…the desperate need for people to be more aware of how profound a danger this is to our children, the desperate need for everyone to be more willing to talk about suicide instead of hiding from it, the desperate need for better funding for our hotlines and mental health infrastructure and suicide education for the school staff who often serve as first line of defense, and the desperate need to break down the current stigmas associated with mental illness…but for today I’m still too heartbroken.

Here’s a link to Cam’s obituary that just came out today. If you’d like you can take a moment to read it and, in your heart, celebrate the beautiful life of someone who did tremendous good and helped a lot of other kids during the short time he was here, and perhaps say a prayer for him and all those who loved him, it would be more deeply appreciated than you know.  His parents felt very strongly that his cause of death should not be hidden or spun in this notice of his death as they know…better than most now…just how critical it is for all of us to start talking about this more openly.  This from the obit:

“But through all the laughter, Cam suffered from depression. He tried to disguise his pain and put to use the deep empathy, love, and compassion generated from his own life’s survival experiences to help as many other people as he could. In the end, he took his own life but he would have wanted everyone to know it was not the outcome he longed for.” 

I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievably brave his parents have been or how, even in the midst of their own devastation, their concern for the many, many other kids reeling from this loss has been uppermost in their minds.  There was a prayer vigil the other night that Cam’s dad helped organize where four or five hundred kids and parents showed up to grieve and sing and tell stories and also talk openly about suicide and the things we can do to watch and help one another to prevent this from happening again.  Everyone in that hall wanted to know.  Everyone there wanted to hear it discussed openly.  The kids especially needed the evening to help them understand and try to come to grips with what’s happened, and the way they came together and were holding and supporting and loving one another through their grief was one of the most extraordinary and moving things I’ve ever witnessed.  They’re so much stronger and courageous and wise, our children, than we tend to believe.  We grown-ups owe it to them to face into our own terrors and finally stop hiding from this.

But enough.  Today I just wanted to say I love you all, even if I don’t know you, and I can’t tell you how glad and grateful I am that you’re out there right now and still alive.  Because that one simple thing gives me more hope than you can possibly imagine. Really love one another today and reach out to someone nearby just because you still can, and do something kind or make someone smile because thats how Cam used to live every single day and why, even with all the turbulence right now, the most lasting legacy of his life will ultimately be one of laughter, love, compassion, and song.

Important links for those considering suicide or those who know someone having suicidal thoughts:

NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness)

List of National Suicide Hotlines (Scroll down a few inches to list)

 

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18 responses

  1. I am very sad to learn about your loss and about Cam’s challenges with respect to depression. It is indeed a serious threat to health. I have known people who claim to have never known a moment’s depression despite suffering and people who rarely have felt hope even though depression appeared to be the only condition causing their suffering. The difference between such people covers territory most of us travel without ever figuring out its landmarks. We need to be gentle with each other because this is one of those situations in which we can stumble without meaning to do so. I will pray for Cam and all people suffering without tools to help them cope. Hugs! Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and prayers, Cheryl. Depression and indeed mental health issues in general are still so misunderstood. I think part of the vast misunderstanding that still exists with depression in particular is the confusion that arises between simply feeling depressed as an emotional response to events, and the different and far more serious state of clinical depression. Clinical depression involves physiological brain chemistry that makes it far more difficult for a person to process outside events in a healthy, constructive way. An event that an average person could take in stride, resolve, and move on from, can overwhelm a clinical depressive’s brain chemistry in the same way that a power surge can take down a local wifi network, to some extent isolating the person from communication with the outside world. This allows a downward spiral of obsessive thinking to take root that’s very difficult, if not impossible, to break unless some kind of outside communication can be reestablished. I’ve been navigating clinical depression for over two decades now and I love your reference to a landscape with landmarks. That’s such an apt metaphor for the my internal experience throughout the journey. It really has felt like getting transplanted into a new territory who’s terrain I then had to learn all over again from scratch. It was by far and above most dangerous in the early stages when I had no idea what was happening and had not yet developed the necessary maps and skills to survive and eventually thrive here. I can’t express how lucky I feel to have made it through those years as it was touch and go a few times for me, too. All love and thanks. Dia

  2. Dia, I am so sorry about your sweet nephew. What a talented young man, his singing of “Why God” brought me to tears, but only after the tears I cried when I first saw his photo–with his sweet smile. You would think I was tough, having been a facilitator for bereaved parents for the last 8 years, having lost a son at an early age myself. I’ve consoled parents of children who died of all different ages, and all different causes, it never gets easier. But your blog, the photo, the obituary, and the song, all were so heart wrenching. Thank you for the link to leave a condolence to the family which I will do. I am thinking of them, Cam, and of you and your husband as well. Take care.

  3. Dia, my heart goes out to all of you. Cam touched so many lives, I have a feeling he will continue to do so for decades. Souls like his leave an indelible mark on those around them.

    Hug your hubby and his family tightly. (My way of hugging you from this end of the state.) Cam’s parents did the right thing in celebrating his life without dancing around his depression. The only shame in mental illness is in our desire to push it into the shadows.

    Much love to you all.

    • Thanks SO much Sweet…it’s funny, I can feel the hugs from here. Once again I’m reminded of how much more complex and profound the interconnections are that exist between us and bind us together. The ability to somehow touch and lend strength to and through one another is mysterious but very real. All love, Dia.

  4. What more can I say besides what Sweetmotherofmars said in her last sentence. The only shame in mental illness is in our desire to push it into the shadows. Cam’s family deserves a Medal of Honor for rising from their grief to push this issue to the forefront. Would that someday there will be some sort of antidote to the nightmare of mental illness.

    Blessings to all Cam’s survivors.

    • I know, that really is such an eloquent summation of the problem. I so often feel like secrets do more damage than everything else combined. And again, thanks SO much for your support through this Linda. We’re all fighting feelings of helplessness through all this but it turns out every layer of support feeds through and is helping to sustain Debbie and Stewart. It really is profound, the kindness pouring in from everywhere and how powerful a tool it is in fighting back against the feelings of isolation that threaten to overwhelm otherwise. Every thought, every message, every impulse of love really does help.

      • I’m sure the way in which they’ve reached out to the community has much to do with what comes back to them. Another lesson in all of this, Reach out. You will always get more in return than what you are able to give.

  5. An eternal candle burns bright for Cam somewhere, everywhere, and for all those who loved him and always will. I grieve when I hear of the death of someone like Cam and I grieve for all who were close to him and those whom he touched with his love and compassion. Know that I am with you and hubster, Dia, and Cam’s parents and family. The world has lost someone obviously beautiful.

    • Thank you Bob. It’s been amazing to watch the outpouring of love. Through all the things that other kids are sharing on the Facebook Memorial Page they set up, Cam’s parents have been learning amazing and beautiful and profound things about him that they might have never known otherwise. He harbored extraordinary grace, that boy. All love, Dia

  6. It saddens me to hear of your loss. My prayers to your family, and all that were close to Cam. I thank you for putting Cam’s story on your blog, as it brings attention to a real problem that many families are dealing with all over the world. For those that are suffering with issues like Cam’s, please Google “NAMI”, a national, state, and local non profit group that offers family to family support in this area. They help us to understand mental illness, and provide much needed support and more importantly, resources. There are NAMI Walks taking place all over the country at this time. Please look one up on the internet, and donated to their walk. The money that is donated pays for the much needed materials ect. that is needed for the training classes that can help families to deal with, if not, curb this from happening to their family… or yours. Sincerely Jim

  7. Moved to tears. My niece’s best friend took her life three years ago; it was high profile as her dad was the assistant coach to the Ottawa Senators hockey team. He and his wife and the girls of the hockey team she belonged to, started a huge fundraising organization here to raise awareness for mental health issues in teens. It’s called DIFD – do it for Darron. Millions have been raised since and it brought a lot of awareness to the young people in the local community. Kudos to you nephew’s family for being brave enough to make this tragedy more than just a horrible loss. Lots of love to all.

    Laur’

    • Thank you so much Laurie. It’s been staggering actually, the number of people coming up to reveal that they’ve been through the same kind of loss. And yet the stigma keeps it from being openly discussed most of the time. I read an interesting article yesterday that mentioned celebrity suicides are the only kind of death that doesn’t inspire public service announcements and 5k runs, etc. I wonder how many lives DIFD altered for the better because of Darron’s parents’ efforts?
      I hope you’re doing well and thriving in your new circumstances my friend!
      Love,Dia

  8. Pingback: Should a family suicide be mentioned in a Christmas card? I could use some help on this one. | The Odd and Unmentionable

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