writer: Jason is the pastor of Storied Church and feels a tad bit vulnerable about sharing this personal story about his family.


Ten years ago my Aunt Trisha committed suicide. You try to use logic to map out what happened and how someone you loved so dearly could do something to themselves.


Trying to understand suicide is like putting puzzle pieces from different puzzles together.

She was my favorite aunt. She was funny, quirky, silly. I looked forward to her visits growing up.


Ten years ago my aunt entered a very dark season in her life. She was probably wading in darkness for a while before then. I remember a few years prior to her death going with my mom to visit her and her stove and fridge looked unused and broken for years. Normal things that normal people would get fixed-left unfixed.


In this darkness, she sought out different medicines prescribed by a range of doctors that spiraled her into deeper darkness. And she attempted to take her life. She had written a long letter about how her work had taken money from her over a period of years and that she just couldn't go on. So she attempted to take her life but someone found her before she was able.

She promised never to try again. My 80-year-old grandmother at the time stayed with her and tried to keep watch over her for weeks. It exhausted my grandmother. And one day my grandmother, exhausted, went to lay down for a nap only to wake up to my aunt gone. She had left. She was missing.


For the next few days, my aunt's picture flashed on the news. I remember thinking of all the countless people missing that flashed on the television screen and I just moved on with my day like it was nothing. And yet now this new reality was that person… isn’t just another person… that was my aunt. The one I grew up riding my bike around the neighborhood filled with excitement at her arrival.


We hoped she just ran away.


A few days later search and rescue people had scoured the woods and came across her body.


She had taken her life.


And so here I am ten years later. And I still can’t put the pieces together. The truth is that you never get over it. Or that their memory doesn’t evade you.


A few months ago I went to visit my grandmother. The last time I visited was 10 years ago right after my Aunt committed suicide. Her house was frozen in time. Pictures of my aunt were in every room.


Most people who commit/think about suicide feel hopeless… and/or think that the world will be a better place without them. Both of those things are not true. My aunt was just a few months from retiring. Retiring! And her family thinks about her often and misses her so much.


I know for my own family members have struggled with depression, drugs, and anxiety. There has also been an aversion/demonization of psychotherapy. I remember a few years ago I told a family member that I was in therapy and they got very concerned about what was going on in my life. Why would I be in counseling if something wasn’t seriously wrong? I think for my family we have waited until things get really bad to seek help. So I seek counseling for my well being and I also knowing the struggles of my own family.


I don't have THE answer to suicide but I know for me and others prevention and community are key. Here are ways that are so good for our well being.


  • Seek out counseling regardless of your situation. And if life is going well…this is a great time to start counseling. This is so vital. Our own barriers to counseling negatively affect those around us. Leading to people in our families suffering by themselves. If you need help let us (Storied Church) know whether you think counseling will be great well-being care or if you are at the end of your rope and you need someone right now. We will help connect you.

  • Check-in with people in your network… and ask “How are you?” Let people know you are thinking about them.

  • Follow-up… so often we think a non-response personally but sometimes reaching out a second time shows how much you care.


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I haven’t heard anybody say lately that they “love” their job. Everyone (even if pre-pandemic loved what they did) is now stressed to the max and wallowing in busyness. 


I feel it too. I love what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. But I have felt that weight on me and the struggle to stay passionate and engaged in what I do. 


The unfortunate gift of the industrial revolution is the celebration of being “busy”. 


Our jobs became our passion and the place we expended most of our energy.

Like then and now let's confess we love telling people we are “busy” because for some of us that give us some sense of value and purpose in our lives. It makes us feel somewhat significant and important when others feel that they have to fight for a little bit of our time. 


In the background of all these are real relationships, partners, kids, parents, friends, neighbors. 


We put such an emphasis on what we do that the investment of our time into real, deep relationships falls by the wayside. 


A few months ago I was watching a Netflix documentary that showed people are the unhappiest in their 30-60s. You do the math those are the prime working years. The years when most of us have kids. 

But they are also years where many of us struggle to maintain real community and friendship. We become somewhat nomadic. Not really dwelling in one place for long. 

As a pastor, I have done quite a few funerals. Sometimes family members will stand up to say a few words about their loved one. These words typically revolve around “he was good dad, my best friend, loyal neighbor… there when you needed him.” 


I am struck… that I don’t hear anything about the “career”. About the things that kept this person busy the 30-40 years of their life. 

I don’t even know what they did because no one ever talks about it. 


When we tell people that we are “so busy” it isn’t to say at the end of the day that work doesn’t matter. Because it does. 

But in terms of the fullness of our lives what matters at the end of the day is our family, our community, our friendships. 


Maybe this is a note to those who are walking the same path as I am. Realizing like me the deep need for community and deep friendship. 


At the end of the day to make space for community… doesn’t mean that I am less busy… but it does mean I have to work to put myself at the table. What stands between me and who I want to be will always be work. Nothing is given to us. 


Friendship and community aren’t built by showing up once or twice or by a click of a button (thanks Facebook). Friendships are built upon consistency, work, and being there for one another. Showing up when it matters most. 

Because at the end of the day… what matters… well… that when life was chaotic… or during the 2020 pandemic… “they showed up.”

writer: M. Leslie Snyder Eaves works with schools and educators across the country on developing STEM and Project Based Learning experiences for kids. She is recently widowed with one pre-teen daughter who keeps her humble. Between work and parenting, she loves to read, paint, embroidery, and whatever kind of craft that flips her fancy.

Drawing by Leslie Eaves

On Dec 31, 2019, I walked into my husband’s office to find him slumped over, cold to the touch, blue lips, not breathing. In that moment, my life exploded. There will forever be a before and an after.


He died.


I have only just begun using other euphemisms for death. Partly because I don’t want to trigger other people’s emotions. But the simple truth is one minute my husband, my life partner, the father to my daughter was there, and the next he wasn’t. Euphemisms can’t capture that reality quite as succinctly as “he died.”

Since that moment, I have walked the sacred journey of grief. Sure, I have lost loved ones before, but there is something so shocking and life changing about not only losing a life partner, but also losing one so early in life.

51, he was 51.


There are days when it feels like a dream, and others when it seems so real it hurts all over again. Prior to his death I would have classified grief as an emotion; what I am learning is that grief is a complexity… an intertwining of emotions, swirling around you in chaotic patterns within patterns. It is being fine and laughing one minute, then crying the next wondering how you will find the strength to ever move again. It is numbness and exhaustion and gratitude and anxiety and self-doubt and pride and sadness all rolled into this mixed blanket that covers how you interact with the world. As I have walked this current path, I carry with me two core values: Authenticity and Curiosity.


As an instructional coach and after reading Elena Aguilar’s book, The Art of Coaching, I have taken time each year to consider what are my top three core values. I always land on Authenticity and Curiosity. As I continue to reflect, I saw that not only have these values served me in my profession, they guide me through this grief process.


Authenticity calls me to be me, to share my thoughts and feelings, and invite others into my reality.

Through this grief journey I feel so many things so deeply. If I were to hide them or try to bury them, I fear they will fester and linger and become an impenetrable dragon. So, I feel them, sometimes I may need to wait until I am alone (because no one needs to see the true rawness of grief); sometimes I am so grateful to the friend who allows me space to break down. Authenticity helps me to come back to my core and allow myself to feel all the feels, to not apologize for the emotion, to feel and process. As I walk this journey, I am becoming somebody different. Authenticity allows me to control and temper this process so I may can purposefully pick up the pieces, examine them, and determine how and if they fit into my new Self.


Curiosity asks the questions. Who am I right now? Who do I want to be? Why am I feeling this emotion? What is triggering me? How will I get through? How the *bleep* did I get through that?! Grief dredges up so many thoughts and questions and regrets, Curiosity allows me to pull those things out like an engineer and scrutinize them. It gives me the mental space to examine and seek to understand.


Curiosity doesn’t demand answers, only questions and exploration.

With these two values intertwined together I find my breath to step from moment to moment, thought to feeling to action and back again. I can authentically feel what I need to feel and be who I need to be so I can move through this journey on the wings of a question.


One final thought, as I write this blog, I find another value is close at hand, Imagination. Imagination allows me to talk and process with my late husband. It allows me to see a new future where I will be whole once again.

Prayer

Heavenly Spirit we have so many questions

And doubts

And truths

Guide us to continuously seek Your Truth.


Heavenly Spirit we are asked to be so many people

In different aspects

In different directions

Help us to be who You have meant for us to be.

Heavenly Spirit are energies are blocked

From exhaustion

From fighting the good fight

Give us a vision to work towards so Your Peace on Earth may be realized.


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PO BOX 1234 | Mebane, NC 27302

A United Methodist congregation.