Saturday, I was privileged to attend the first annual Out of the Darkness Walk held in Richfield, Utah to raise awareness of suicide prevention efforts and to offer support for “suicide survivors” – those left behind – family members and loved ones who must try to piece together their lives after their hearts have been shattered.
The tiny community of Richfield is home to about 7500 people. Since the year 2000, seventy-four people in Richfield have died by suicide – seven so far this year. Nearly 200 people joined together to honor those lives lost. Many wounds were still fresh and tears flowed down the cheeks of young and old alike.
As the group gathered together, they heard messages meant to give courage and hope – hope to save the next life, hope to remove the suffocating stigma of suicide, and hope to heal hearts. The group then began their 3 mile walk through that little town while a few of us stayed behind.
My heart was drawn to one older gentleman who I will call Rick. Rick stood in silence at a temporary memorial of 74 wooden stakes planted in the ground – one for each life lost. He found the stake marked with his son’s name – Rick. And he cried. He clutched his heart and told me of his excruciating pain. And I cried.
Rick wore white beads that day to honor his son. He asked me how long it would take before his heart no longer hurt. As I wore gold beads in honor of Mom, I told him there is no timetable for grief. It’s been nearly forty years since Mom died.
And though I cannot imagine the pain Rick must feel losing the son he loved more than life itself, nor can I help piece together his shattered heart, I can tell him with the utmost surety that HOPE is real – that healing comes – for God has gathered up all the pieces of my own shattered heart and has patched it together with His love. He has filled my heart to overflowing with His light – GOLD – the color of sunshine, the color of stars, the color of Mom.