Lori Nunnink-Taylor: Facing loss during the holidays
While working for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office more than a decade ago, I remember hearing a story told by a sergeant who had, years previously, responded to a suicide call.
When he arrived at the home of the victim, the sergeant learned the deceased man had chosen the moment his family and he sat down to the Thanksgiving Day dinner table to end his life.
The vision of that moment and every subsequent Thanksgiving from that day forward, undoubtedly, became an indelible memory that will remain in the minds of all those who had the unfortunate experience of witnessing such a tragedy.
My heart breaks, as I imagine that the holidays for this particular family lack the joy, beauty and hope that’s meant to accompany this special time of year. Unfortunately, this family is not alone, nor is our community immune to the impact suicide has on society as a whole.
Whether the loss of a loved one at that individual’s own hand is recent or occurred decades ago, we have all been impacted by suicide. Its impact is felt not only by those immediately affected, but is experienced exponentially throughout our national landscape and beyond.
When I was 12 years old, I lost my uncle to suicide. He was an accomplished chiropractor, friend to the masses and by all accounts, a unique and caring individual who contributed greatly to the Nevada County community. John “Jack” McKenzie, was not merely another casualty of suicide or a statistic; he was an uncle, he was a father, a husband, a brother and a son.
Today he would be a grandfather and great grandfather to many.
Jack’s death still pains those who loved him. Yet, at such a young age, I could not fully appreciate the magnitude of or extent to which his death would impact the entire family for years to come. Nonetheless, through time and acceptance, healing and hope continues to abound. Today, Jack’s presence in our hearts and minds now rivals the pain that once occupied every breath of those who had the privilege of knowing and loving the precious man he was.
The holidays can be a time of remembrance for those whose loved one has left this earth. Those memories can be tragic and immobilizing. Still, we can make a conscious choice to cling to the good and beloved memories that are too often overcome by the negative.
For those who are motionless as you face the memories and the depth of your loss during the holiday season, I encourage you to seek help. Pursue that source of support that will carry you through. Strive for healing through the love that continues to surround you. Seek out avenues that offer hope for your journey ahead. Find your strength in a faith that promises a day of redemption.
Demand — for yourself and those who love you — a future not wrought with tragedy, rather, one founded on an expectation of hope, and one day, absolute healing, unconditional reconciliation and a long-anticipated indescribable reunification.
Lori Nunnink-Taylor is the executive director at Anew Day. For more information, visit http://www.anew-day.com.
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