Written By: Sarah Voss, LOSS Team Coordinator
The end of the year is generally a time for all things red and green, especially our plants. We see poinsettias, amaryllis, fir and evergreen trees, and maybe even red roses or zinnias. Most people would not associate a sunflower with the holiday season. And yet that is where I want to lead you as we prepare to leave this especially trying year behind.
Helen Keller once said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” She knew what many of us fail to remember when life is difficult – we cannot go at it alone. Our human nature requires connection to survive. In this way, we are like the sunflowers that connect to the sun, their source of growth and strength.
In 2020, we have adapted to new ways of gathering. People who considered themselves technologically ignorant are now savvy in the ways of video chat. We have learned how to hold parties, conferences, and weddings online. Schools have used hybrid models of learning. Doctor and therapy visits have taken place via telehealth. And while some connections have been helpful, joyful, or even glorious, others have brought much pain and sorrow. People have said goodbye to their loved ones without the touch of a hand or the feel of a warm embrace. Burials have often occurred without a funeral service or required social distancing to ensure safety. Through it all though, we see that by joining together in any way possible we may avoid the shadows that threaten to consume us.
The members of the Metro Area Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team have continued to offer support and connection to those bereaved by suicide loss this year. Surviving the loss of a loved one by suicide is an experience our volunteers have endured. Our wish is that no one must endure suicide loss alone, so we offer comfort and support to others as well as one another. We choose to act like the sunflowers, facing away from shadows and into lights of hope so that we may heal.
As the coordinator for the LOSS team, I am once again embarking on a healing journey following the suicide death of my father-in-law this past summer. I want to express my most profound gratitude to The Kim Foundation team, LOSS volunteers, and advisory board for the support given to me and my family through this extremely difficult process. Despite the hardships of the year, I continue my fight against suicide. I face the sunshine by looking to all of you, finding strength to grow through pain. My wish is for you to do the same.
You are not alone. We are here to help. If you are interested in a call or visit from the LOSS team, please contact us at 402-891-6911 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.