The sights and smells of fall are upon us. We are witnesses to the wonders of our natural world as farmers begin harvesting that which was sown earlier in the year. All that hard work performed in planting the seeds and nurturing the growing plants, leads to the joy of a bountiful harvest. God’s gift of this world is an amazing thing to experience. We see this gift in the relationships that we grow with each other.
Our senses allow us to enjoy more fully the bounty of persons we are connected to as we plant the seeds of each relationship. We nurture those relationships over time and treasure the harvest of our experiences. Sometimes, the seed that is planted sprouts quickly and the time to harvest is short, but the sweetness of the fruit remains.
It is often difficult for us to comprehend why the gift of life in some circumstances may last for a very short amount of time. In one instance, the joy ended before we met. For another close to me, the joy lasted 11 minutes. The profound impact that those short lives had on us continue and it is up to each of us to harvest the beauty of that life sown by God and part of the harvest that is Heaven.
I know the impact those 11 minutes had on me over 20 years ago and have learned to appreciate the harvest of eternal life through the short life of a little angel. Whether it is 11 minutes, 14 years or 104, each life is sown by God and it is up to each of us to nurture that seed and harvest every moment until the final harvest of eternal life.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
Although autumn officially begins on Wednesday, September 22, it is safe to say that fall, defined as the season between summer and winter, has arrived. September has brought us the splendor of fall leaves, bountiful harvests, cooler weather, students returning to school, Friday Night lights, and … plenty of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!
If we are talking about the many reasons why September is so great, we need to add one more reason to the mix. My hope is that by the time you finish reading this blog, and after you have clicked a few links and read the information, you will feel empowered and more confident about starting a conversation with a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance. And this isn’t just any conversation. No, it’s a conversation regarding a topic that was once considered too taboo to mention, and usually involved people whispering. Now, there is a worldwide effort to bring awareness, action and support services to affect change and save lives. September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Organizations in the US and around the world are raising awareness on suicide prevention. This worldwide initiative is one that will de-stigmatize the topic of suicide and challenge all of us to make a difference in someone’s life, simply by having the compassion to ask, to listen, to give support and to stay connected.
The current year is a time where many of us are feeling extra anxious or troubled. Undoubtedly, the anxiety is exacerbated by following 24/7 news or social media outlets. With all the craziness in our world right now, it is even more important for mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members to unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. We need to spread the word that if someone is in crisis, there are many options available to help them cope. Just starting the conversation and asking “Are you OK? Are you really, OK?” is a small, but compassionate effort that could save a life. Reach out to organizations such as Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is available confidentially and 24/7 for everyone in the United States at 1-800-273-8255. To know the risk factors and to learn more about the warning signs, visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Healing, hope and help can happen. Suicide is preventable for everyone. By starting the conversation, listening without judgement, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicide and save lives.
Catholic Cemeteries Association provides services to those who are struggling with grief due to the loss of a loved one. This month, our September 2021 Bereavement Bulletin highlights the topic of Suicide Prevention and Awareness and can be accessed on the website www.clecem.org under the Information tab- Bereavement-Grief Support Newsletter, or by clicking here:
Also- to learn more about the signs of depression and how to help a loved one dealing with depression, read our blog:
“3 Things to Keep In Mind if You or A Loved one may be Battling Depression”- Click Here.
For more information or ideas on how to take action to help prevent suicide- Click Here.
Thank you for doing your part to start the conversation, and to help bring awareness to suicide prevention and ultimately, to save lives.
Post written by Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, Marketing and Communications Manager
Nearly one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and depression is one of the most common. With the considerable rise of depression rates due to COVID-19, mental health awareness is becoming increasingly imperative. It’s important to be able to understand and recognize the symptoms of depression and know where to turn for help. Also, it can be helpful to be aware that depression may not look the same in everyone.
1. Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression
Whether you or a loved one may be battling depression, being familiar with the warning signs is a necessary step in the right direction to recovery. Although depression looks different in everyone, some of the most common symptoms are:
Feelings of prolonged sadness and emptiness
Being easily frustrated or irritable
Eating too much or too little
Extreme lack of energy
Sleeping too much or too little
Loss of interest in most activities, especially those you used to enjoy
Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
Frequent or recurrent suicidal thoughts
It’s important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms now and then doesn’t necessarily correlate to a mental illness. Determining a diagnosis depends on the severity and duration of these symptoms, as well as how much they interfere with daily activities. If you or a loved one thinks they are depressed, it may be beneficial to consult a professional.
2. Be Aware that Depression Looks Different in Everyone
Depression is a tricky disease. It doesn’t look the same in everyone, and some depressed people are more functional than others. Since some symptoms may be more severe than others, you shouldn’t compare one person’s mental illness to another. You may never know that a loved one is struggling with depression just by looking at them. Some don’t even know that they, themselves, are struggling with depression. In fact, it is common for people to try to convince themselves that they aren’t depressed, or that the way they feel is normal and they are overreacting. This is normal for people battling with mental illness: they may be in denial. But, the first step in recovering from a mental illness is recognizing and accepting it. The next step is reaching out for help.
3. Know Where to Turn for Help
Turning to someone for help is one of the most significant things you can do while battling a mental illness. Most importantly, if you think you are going to hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately for help. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you think you might be struggling with depression, make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible. It may be hard to reach out for help, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. You do not need to go through this alone, and there are people who care about you and support you. If you aren’t comfortable seeking treatment or professional advice right away, consider talking to a friend, a loved one, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. Recovering from depression can be a demanding commitment, but once you choose hope, anything is possible.
“For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The season of summer, which follows spring’s bursting forth of new life and growth, brings to mind nature’s strength. July is filled with warm sunny days (except in northeast Ohio), summer fun, family vacations and camp. Graduation parties are winding down and thoughts of the new school year are slowly making their way into the conversation. As these events come and go, those who are suffering a loss are reminded that life continues regardless of the broken heart they carry along the way.
The renewal and strength that is associated with summer can also bring hope. Let us try to accept the responsibility of bringing that hope to our neighbors. As we continue the steady march toward some level of normalcy, we are called to renew relationships and to open our hearts to each other. As we renew our relationships, let us place an emphasis on renewing our relationship and devotion to Jesus. Our Lord and Savior became Man to renew our relationship with God, and with the shedding of his Precious Blood, He opened the door once closed. Jesus willingly gave Himself over to shed His blood in a supreme act of love. This love He has for each of us, most evident as we celebrate the sacraments, is the true roadmap we use to find Him in paradise.
Throughout the season of summer, while we slowly return to the ordinary lives we enjoyed pre-pandemic, we find ourselves reconnecting with friends and loved ones. We realize that many will be dealing with the pain of loss. At those summer parties, we smile despite the pain from the death of a loved one, but it is in the Precious Blood, shed for us, that our relationship with God is renewed and the path to paradise established. By accepting that His death and the shedding of His Precious Blood renews our relationship with God, we gain the gift of hope and the peace of knowing that paradise is within reach.
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to recognize July as Social Wellness Month. During this month, focus on nurturing yourself and your relationships. Social wellness and keeping a strong social network play a role in almost every aspect of your health. There are many forms of social support that affect the strength and security of your relationships. As we begin to reconnect with loved ones following the pandemic, there are a few things you should focus on regarding social wellness.
What is social wellness?
Social wellness involves giving and receiving social support. It’s about nurturing yourself and your relationships to have a strong, fulfilling, and uplifting social network. The three main forms of social support are emotional, instrumental, and informational. Giving and receiving emotional support helps you feel cared for and balanced. Instrumental support refers to physical support such as money, helping around the house, or providing care during sickness. To give informational support, you would provide information or advice to help someone. These forms of support are all important for social health, especially as the world is opening up after the pandemic.
Why is social wellness important?
Social wellness has many benefits on your mental, social, and even physical health. Having strong relationships and feeling supported by the people you’re surrounded with correlates to a positive self-image. Your confidence and personal wellness will carry over into your relationships and make you want to be a better friend, parent, child, sibling, etc. Social wellness is also important because it affects your physical health. Your body and mind work together, and it’s important to focus on taking care of both. People with healthy relationships literally have a healthier heart. They respond better to stress, and they even tend to live longer than people with weaker social networks.
Reconnecting with friends and family after COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been deprived of social contact the past year. Being alone has become part of our lifestyle, and it can be hard for some people to go back to social situations after adapting to isolation. One way that may make it easier to reconnect with people after the pandemic is making commitments that won’t overwhelm you. It’s okay to ease back into social situations at your own speed and comfort level, but only make commitments you can stand by. Being honest about your availability and staying connected and committed is a very important part of nurturing friendships and relationships. It may be difficult to step out of your comfort zone after the pandemic, but there are steps you can take to get yourself out of isolation mode. Exercise with a group, go out for a meal, or take up a new hobby with a friend. You can even join a club that interests you, which may lead to making new friends. Reach out to your family and friends to see if they want to connect. If you aren’t comfortable connecting in person due to COVID-19, you could go on a relaxing walk, engage in a new individual hobby, and video chat with friends and family.
In this day and age, it may be difficult to be present in your relationships due to the existence of social media. Social media can be a blessing and a curse: it can help you stay connected with people online, but it also distracts you from what really matters. During the pandemic, it was easy to get addicted to social media. Throughout this month and going forward, focus on what matters and start each day with a new attitude. While spending time with friends or family, be present in your conversations. Keep an open mind and appreciate the time you have with the people you love. Showing love and appreciation keeps relationships healthy and open. As the pandemic settles, focus on nurturing your relationships and remember to love often.