HOPE Lights the Night 2019 comments by Susan Marine

HOPE Lights the Night 2019 Comments

Susan Marine

Welcome, and thank you for coming and braving the elements this snowy evening!

While the HOPE Coalition organizes this event, we are grateful to the many diverse organizations that sponsor this program to show their concern about suicide in our community.

We are also thankful for the singers, speakers, and others who give freely of their time and talents to make this night possible and meaningful.

Many members of the HOPE Coalition have survived a suicide loss. I lost my son, Kevin, in 2003, and our daughter Alice died of suicide in 2007. One of the ways I coped with the devastating pain of these deaths was to create tonight’s program. For each of eleven years I have lit this one candle before me– as a symbol of HOPE. Some who have attended this program over the years find that the ritual helps to move us toward wholeness and healing.

Death by suicide is sudden, usually unexpected, depriving us of a  chance to say good bye. We struggle to understand why, asking ourselves what we could have done differently. But suicide is complex, each death caused by a many factors – some of which we may never fathom.

We are left with memories, and often wondering what might have been if our loved one had lived on. While the trauma of losing someone to suicide is not something you ever truly “get over,” – slowly, over time, we heal. The human spirit is resilient.

Tonight we remember and honor those who ended their lives with suicide.  We come together because we have survived a suicide loss, to join in community with others who understand,  and to reach out in support one another. Some here may have considered or attempted suicide. We honor your recovery.

Many are here to remember one who died years ago, but for the loss may be recent and very raw. Wherever you are on your grief journey you are welcome to this gathering. There is no right or wrong way to mourn these losses. This time of year, as we approach the holidays, can be a difficult time when we miss the happy times we spent with those now gone.

This Saturday will be International Survivors of Suicide Day when people all over the world join together in their local communities to find comfort, healing, and hope.

Last year 61 Boulder county residents died of suicide Each of those deaths had a significant impact on at least 125 others – that means over 7,600 of our friends, neighbors and relatives, co-workers have been touched by suicide in just one year. The ripple effect of suicide reaches even further in ways we sometimes don’t know.

None of these survivors should be isolated, left alone to deal with her loss. Unfortunately, some survivors don’t reach out to get the support they need because of the stigma that  can be associated with suicide. By joining together this evening we say NO to this stigma. My wish for each of you is that you find HOPE here tonight – and that you feel the comforting embrace of a community that cares.