After These Kind Words, It Was My Turn To Speak and I was Already Crying
In September of 2016, my brother — my only sibling — died of an overdose. His two nephews, my sons, will grow up knowing him only through the stories that I tell them of our shared childhood and the many times he made me laugh.
About four and a half months after XXXX’s death, I attended Chi Omega’s Firesides with our chapter leaders. Dennis Gillan was the keynote speaker for that event, which was focused on mental health and emotional well-being.
As I sat there listening to Mr. Gillan’s talk that Friday night, I truly understood for the first time how people could walk away from immense crisis and unfathomable loss in a positive direction. I was especially touched by his honesty and his remarkable ability to take his own grief, turn it around, and use it to help others overcome theirs. I started to see that there was a light at the end of the dark tunnel I was walking through.
The morning after Mr. Gillan’s talk, I stood in line for breakfast in the hotel lobby. I looked up and saw him standing several people ahead of me. I debated whether I could hold myself together enough to talk to him and thank him. I thought I could. It turned out that I couldn’t. But as he hugged me and I wiped tears from my eyes, I realized that while I still grieved — and I still do grieve — my brother would live on in those stories I tell my boys and in whatever it was that I chose to do to use my own pain to help others. Mr. Gillan helped me see that there were still ways I could make my brother’s life matter.
Several months after Firesides, I joined the Board of Directors for Roads to Recovery, a local organization that provides support for people as they focus on and sustain their recovery. Mr. Gillan’s presence at Firesides in 2017 changed my life, and I will be forever grateful to him and to Chi Omega for that.
You never know who is listening…..you just never know. Now I ask you—what’s your story that needs to be told?
#mentalhealth #suicideprevention #growth