The holidays are upon us once again and I’m feeling generally festive. But I am hugely aware that this time of year can be especially hard when dealing with loss and grief. For those who lost someone to suicide, the Saturday before Thanksgiving is recognized as International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. Events are held around the world and in the US to allow survivors to come together for healing and support, to share stories, and participate in memorial activities. An easy way to find a program in your area is through afsp.org.
An article in psychiatry.org cites several studies that show how talk and support play critical roles in recovery and growth after loss, while staying silent contributes to loneliness, difficulty coping, detachment, and other depression-related symptoms. My personal experience of staying silent about my mom’s suicide for 30 years and then meeting and talking to other loss survivors has shown me first-hand the truth behind these studies.
Being able to share my grief and talk about my mother has also taught me the importance of remembering and honoring the lives of our loved ones, not just always being focused on the way they died. Telling my story helped me heal. Perhaps most importantly, the simple act of talking allowed me to join a community of strong, resilient people who are loving and empathetic and who bring strength and hope to each other even in the face of tragedy.
My mission with The Silent Goldens documentary is to try and open and normalize the conversation around suicide loss. Very few people are not touched by these deaths at some point whether it is someone close, an acquaintance or co-worker, a community member, or an admired celebrity, yet it still is a taboo topic. For the last couple of years, I’ve been recruiting other suicide loss survivors who have gone public with their stories to share why they feel it’s important to do so and how it has changed their relationship to their grief for my YouTube Series Talking About Suicide Loss With…
This month I am proud to feature Rob Barnett. I met Rob over 30 years ago when we were colleagues at MTV in NYC. We recently reconnected regarding my projects when I learned that he, unfortunately, lost his brother to suicide. While we didn’t know each other well way back when, talking to him was like talking to a long-lost friend because of the bond of shared traumatic experience. Unlike many of my guests, Rob spoke out very publicly immediately after his loss and since then has been finding creative ways shine a light on this important topic and support others who have lost someone.