Suicide is a tricky thing. Initially I was so angry and guilt-ridden that it was practically eating me alive. How could I not have know? How could I be sitting next to him on Thursday and on Sunday he be gone? Why, oh why could I not save him? How could he do this to his family and friends? How did he not know how very much he was loved by so many? Why did he do this? All these questions, and more, continue to swirl through all our heads. We may never know the answers to any of these questions, and we need to learn to be at peace with that. At some point we have to change our focus from the Whys and Hows and move toward making his short life meaningful by turning away from the anger and guilt and toward a way to honor his precious memory.
While we are making moves to honor his memory, what I truly feel now is a deep sadness and an almost stifling need to protect those around me from the sadness that seems to have taken our precious Diego away. Diego left us no clues, so I find myself overanalyzing my family and friends to be sure I won't miss anything. I am not sure my heart could handle another loss like this, but I know in reality that life is full of sadness and that I will need to persevere despite my heart feeling like it might break.
These feelings of sadness have also driven us all to find a way to ensure that no other family has to go through what Diego's family is experiencing right now. We know the reality is that we will most likely not be able to save everyone, but we can certainly try, right?
Through this grief process I was comforted by educating myself. I knew nothing about suicide before this experience, so I sought to find out more in an attempt to comfort Diego's family and friends. The most helpful book I read was My Son, My Son: A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss, and Suicide by Iris Bolton. Hands-down the best resource I found to help me understand the grieving process. The most incredible workshop I went to was called SafeTALK, a three hour training that helped me to feel more prepared to deal with this issue in the future. But being a teacher, I know the answer is going to lie in not only educating myself, but educating the students in our community. They need to understand not only the devastation this decision causes, but they also need to be empowered to identify signs of suicidal tendencies and to know how to find help for an at-risk person. My hope is that the foundation we create in Diego's name will provide this safeTalk training to our Middle and High School students so they can work as a team to tackle the issue of suicide.
Happy birthday Dear Diego! We miss you more than words can ever articulate, but we will try to carry on without you by helping other students understand that nothing in life is so bad that you cannot ask for help. We wish we could go back and save you, but our birthday gift to you is helping your friends and family see how precious life is--#playfordiego #playforlife