Suicide, Writer’s Block, and Doing the Best You Can

    writer's block

    This post is not about quick fixes or ‘5 simple steps’, and I don’t have a clear writing lesson to share.

    This post is about the core of writing.

    About life.
    About soul.
    About integrity.

    Let me introduce myself: I’m Mary Jaksch, the Chief Editor of Write to Done.

    This post was supposed to be about becoming a better writer.

    But I couldn’t write it. The page remained blank, no matter how hard I tried.

    Maybe you too have moments when you need to produce something, but you just can’t do it?

    You feel blocked.

    Maybe you should be walking in the soft sunshine.

    Maybe you want to curl up on the couch like a cat.

    Maybe you want to stretch out on a beach and watch the clouds.

    But you’re supposed to write something. And the empty page stares back at you.

    That is what happened to me:

    .

    Page empty. No words. Creativity locked up.

     

    For a writer, that’s a bad situation.

    This is our tough reality:

    Writing means giving expression to your life.

    YOUR life. Not someone else’s life. Not the life you may wish to have or pretend to have.

    And here’s the uncomfortable truth: if you try to prevent your raw life from flowing into your writing, your creativity locks up.

    Like mine did.

    In the end, I decided to write about what is really going on for me.

     

    You never see it coming…

     

    It was late at night when the phone call came.

    My niece was on the phone.

    I knew instantly that something was wrong, ‘What is it?’ I said urgently. ‘What happened?’

    It was a long-distance call and the connection broke off.

    Then the phone rang again.

    ‘It’s my brother,’ she said, her voice cracking. ‘He committed suicide.’

    Suicide. That word holds so many painful meanings: finality, heartache, anguish, regret, despair, grief.

    (If you’ve experienced suicide in your family or circle of friends, you’ll know what I mean.)

    I jumped on the next plane to be with my family. It was a forty-hour journey, shot through with dread and grief.

    It’s hard to write about the weeks I spent with my family.

    There were times of anguish, and also moments of sweetness – because we experienced that loss not only breeds grief, it also gives rise to love.

    .

    The humanity that you and I share

    .

    You and I share humanity. We share human emotions – from joy and love right through to despair.

    We share thoughts and dreams and struggles.

    We also share a love of writing.

    In good times, writing is a pleasure.

    But how can we write when life is turned upside down? How can we hold to deadlines, and complete projects – when the heart needs to grieve and heal?

    Writing is giving. You share the words that flow from the center of your being with others.

    Yes, writing is an act of giving yourself to others.

    .

    But what if you are fresh out of giving?

    .

    What if you feel emotionally depleted?

    That’s when creativity stops.

    It’s like a car that’s run out of gas.

    You can kick it. Or clean the spark plugs, or change the wheels. But the thing still won’t start.

    Because … the car is out of gas.

    But what if you have commitments? What if you’ve promised to go somewhere or do something – and you’re out of fuel?

    Not only are you out of creative fuel, you have no idea how to fill up the tank.

    .

    That’s when stress begins to build.

     

    If your creativity has locked up and there are deadlines to meet, projects to finish, or launches to complete – you are in trouble.

    You’re expected to deliver, but a painful life event has knocked you flat and diminished your ability to produce.

    I can tell you, it’s very stressful.

    The tragedy in my family happened in the middle of the launch of the new A-List Blogging Masterclass. Everything had to be delayed…

    And my students in the old A-List Blogger Club are still waiting to be taken to their new home in the Masterclass.

    But there are delays. And that weighs on me because I feel responsible for my students.

    This kind of stress can be crushing. It’s squeezes your mind and heart, and robs you of sleep.

    .

    And the way forward is …

    .

    There is a mind-tool I use in times of crisis.  I say to myself, ‘And the way forward is …’.

    You should try it. If you leave the sentence incomplete, your subconscious mind will go to work and come up with possible pathways.

    The following two pathways appeared in my mind:

    .

    First pathway: Use the truth serum.

    Creativity seems to lock up when we try to avoid suffering; when we avoid expressing the difficult truth of our raw life.

    It locks up because the wellspring of creativity resides in the core of our being.

    And this core demands truth. It demands integrity.

    So one way to reconnect with your creative wellspring is to write about how you really are.

    It’s painful and scary. But it works.

    You can write your truth either by journaling in private, or by writing a public post (like I’m doing).

    Either way takes courage.

    .

    Second pathway: Take off the bulletproof vest.

    When you take off your bulletproof vest, you admit that you’re vulnerable.

    Like I’m doing now: I’m shaken, stressed, and struggling to perform what people expect of me.

    Then there is the next step: asking for help.

    I have to admit, I like helping others, but I’m not good at asking for help.

    Anyone else have the same problem?

    .

    Finally, I managed to ask for help.

    .

    To keep our students happy in the interim, I had the idea that we could put together a series of videos made by fellow bloggers (which would take some pressure off me).

    Jon Morrow from Blog Boost Traffic , Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing, and Corbett Barr from Think Traffic all volunteered.

    And so did Scott Dinsmore , Carol Tice, Tyler Tervooren, Courtney Carver, Jules Clancy, and Gary Korisko (who all began their journey of blogging with us at A-list Blogging). Darren Rowse from Problogger and Derek Halpern from Social Triggers were also willing, but didn’t have video access at this time.

    Yes, asking for help is hard.

    But when you ask, people happily rise to your support, and when you experience the support of others, your crushed heart begins to beat again.

    .

    The healing power of words on a page

    .

    Time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t do it alone.

    Healing comes slowly, from the support of our communities, and from our own journey of articulating and struggling to make sense of it all.

    And it comes from our craft, too… doesn’t it?

    I mean, writing this post has helped – at least a little. I think…

    Maybe any creative act that wells up from the core of our being and expresses who we are has the power to heal what is broken?

    It continues to hurt, and that won’t change any time soon.

    But through writing – through my words – at least I can share that pain, and the sharing makes it easier.

    And maybe that is the point of this post – that this side of writing is sometimes the best solace we can find.

    Maybe there is a lesson for writers in that?

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • I seriously love your website.. Very nice colors & theme.
      Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as
      I’m looking to create my very own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

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    • Elizabeth says:

      Hey Mary,

      I”m so sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing your story with us. Getting back on track after such a tragedy is hard but you’ve inspired us to help ourselves do what it takes, and to give ourselves permission to ask for help.

      Thank you for that 🙂

      Elizabeth

    • Marni says:

      Dear Mary,

      An astounding, compassionate, beautiful post – I wish you and yours blessings & peace of mind,

      with all best wishes

    • Gina says:

      Mary thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I lost my nephew to suicide 8 years ago, my heart aches for you and your loved ones. The pain and slew of mixed emotions will be with you for a long time, but I know your strength and love will cary you through it. Take time and care of yourself during this trying time. Thank you for all the work you do.

      Blessings,
      Gina

    • Lauren says:

      Such beauty in your words and in you. You are loved. Thank you Mary for being who you are and for being real. You’ve given so much to us and I am happy that you are receiving as well.

      Love,
      Lauren

    • Arun Debnath says:

      Mary

      I can’t write the way you do – you know the real art of writing.

      You’re such a class act! I’m pleasantly surprised where you started this post and where you ended up with the most wonderful piece of advice I’ve ever had. You’ve surely made me a fan of yours too. I can testify what you said about the healing power of writing. At the time of the most difficult period of my life I started writing a daily journal of events and my thoughts. Not only did it heal my pain but also I started to enjoy writing. Thanks for sharing your insight. Best wishes. Arun

    • That took courage, Mary. We have all had our best laid plans disrupted by life. May you travel as lightly as possible through this challenging period. Take all the time you need.

    • You are in my thoughts and prayers, Mary.

      I know how hard you work, how deeply you care, and how much you worry about the next thing coming — whatever it might be at the time.

      Your story, however, helps remind us all that some of the things we fret about can easily become trivia (at least for a time). Love and family trump all else. And dealing with the death of someone we cherish is one of the highest prices we pay as members of a family.

      Please accept my sincere sympathies.

      ~Jim

    • I’m sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I know that writing about your pain will help someone else.

    • Charlotte says:

      Please accept my deepest sympathies for you and your family.

      You have no idea how much this post was needed today. While my trials are not the same as yours, my stress level had reached a breaking point.

      My daughter swears there is no such thing as random. Your story opened up on my homepage as I was fighting through tears. Your words eased the weight I carry.

      Thank you.

    • Brilliant way of breaking things down and parsing them individually. Anyone with experience like this, and especially those who don’t, would do well to read this.

    • I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Mary, and I admire your courage in “taking the truth serum”. My mother was diagnosed with cancer last year, and I felt a similar kind of pressure. I seemed completely unable to write my usual blog posts about writing and books, and lacked the courage to open up as you have and say what was really going on. It did lead to stress. I think honesty is the best way through something like this – and you’re right, asking for help is great too. This was a really touching post. I wish you and your family all the best in getting through this terrible time.

    • I love this post.. because it shares my way of being a writer. I can only write about what is here now.. now that may be an inspired idea but when the heart and soul are calling for release that is where I go. The discovery then is this: it touches the heart and soul of others. Thank you so much for this honest sharing. You have touched my heart and soul deeply..

      • Your comment has really touched me, Cassandra…
        thank you

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Mary,

      I’ve been receiving your updates by email for the longest time and I’ve never commented. Somehow they all just meld into the other emails that I regularly receive. All of them from writers who share valuable interesting posts but seem so removed from me.

      Then you get one like this one and all of a sudden you seem real and your pain is mine. Sounds kind of dumb when I put it in words, but it is what it is. My sons’ uncle committed suicide almost 12 months ago, I’m separated from his father and so the uncle has not been a part of my life for almost 20 years.

      My sons father rang me early one morning to ask me to break the distressing news to my son – my adult son had been going through some tough times of his own and his father was worried about how he’d take the additional news.

      It was one of the single hardest moments of my life and I kept my son very close for months afterwards because I was so scared for him and his mental state. What it did do is make us talk very openly and honestly about suicide and how we should lean on our loved ones when we need to.

      Suicide is so prevalent and yet we don’t talk about it as much as we should. We hide from it and that perceived shame that shrouds it. Talking about it and writing about it is necessary to break down those barriers. Well done to you for being brave and sharing.

      Writing about it was my way of dealing with it and finding the strength to help my son through the dark days that were to follow.

      Thank you for your honesty and hugs to you

      • Dear Fiona – I can imagine how scary it was to lead your son through this difficult time of his life. Well done for staying steady and grounded!

        Thank you so much for writing about your experience. You are right: it’s important to talk about suicide and not try to hide it.

    • Sandta says:

      Thank you. Your words hold truth for all of us, writer, creator or just a regualr human being. I’m so sorry for your family. Your words brought grace into our lives.

      • Thank you for taking the time to write your lovely comment, Sandta

    • Mary,

      Isn’t it odd how the world goes on when one you love dies? People continue to go to work, eat, laugh and on and on while you and your family grieve. It doesn’t seem to make sense, yet it happens.

      My prayer is that you and your family are wrapped in love, grace and peace.

      • Yes, Yvonne, for us life seems to stop – and it’s strange how it goes on all around us.

    • I think honest is the best policy. Clichéd, but true.

      • Yes, speaking our truth is changes our life and maybe also that of others.

    • Heartfelt sentiments, Mary – yes we all share in our humanity – not something I think of everyday – it was good to be reminded of that. You are of course more than forgiven – nothing to forgive when we realize we’ve done all that was possible at that point in time. One of the best things about writing is how therapeutic it is for us. lsn’t it great that we have that capacity. Be well and take all the time you need to heal.

    • Take care of yourself and your family Mary. We’ll be here when you are ready. And in the meantime know that there are people cheering for you!

    • pj reece says:

      Mary… take all the time you need to get back on track. Nobody’s life is going down the drain because you’re schedule is kaput. And who knows what your “track” will really look like when it’s “back”. But I’ll bet that from here forward your track is fuller than ever with compassion. It’s all good. Love, PJ.

    • This is worth repeating:
      Mary; I am so sorry. I asked Satish to send you a message because I woke up with my hand hanging limp off my wrist; but that didn’t stop me from writing a post. See, you are an inspiration!

      Know that I am thinking of you. My heart went out to you with all of the pressures you have. We cannot will ourselves through a brick wall, Mary. As much as we have used our willpower to move mountains in the past.

      You are loved by all of us.

      My blessings to you

    • A powerful and brutally honest post, Mary. Thank you. I am so sorry about your nephew. I hope you and your family can find some solace with time. I think you are right on the money with this post as I find msyelf in a similar position as I go through the exhausting practicalities and emotions of a marriage breakup. I so want to finish the last edit of my novel but find I have nothing to give my protagonist. It’s like I read the words and I can’t remember who she is. All I see are my two kids and how much they need me right now and all I feel is so so weary of my life at the moment. I keep telling myself things will improve with time and I am sure my writing will do too. I wish the same healing time passage for you.

      Kelly x

      • Dear Kelly, yes – a breakup is hard (especially if you have children).

        May you be well
        May you be free from suffering
        May you be healed
        May you be at peace

    • Carol Leff says:

      You are the BEST! Write to done has helped me, a newspaper columnest/editor, writer, publisher, speaker, etc. more that I can ever tell you. Many members of the groups I lead are now receiving write to done on a regular basis.

      You are helping so many people.

      Thanks and Blessing,
      Carols Ink

      • That’s lovely to know, Carol. As a blogger we don’t always know how our work really benefits – so it’s lovely to get confirmation (like in your comment)!

    • As Brene Brown has taught me on TED and on Oprah’s Soul Sunday, making ourselves vulnerable is the greatest act of love – to love yourself!

      My heart and soul is with you, Mary. This happened because you shared yours with me. Wonder why we think the world will fall apart when it’s our turn to call in a little love and understanding from others.

      One of my mentors often says, “Walk from giving to receiving. The exercise will do you good.”

      May the loss of your nephew slip into its place in your heart without too much jagged edged ache.

      • This is lovely, Amy: “Walk from giving to receiving. The exercise will do you good.”
        thank you

    • Andrea says:

      Mary, I loved your post and your honesty. Life just happens and the members of Alist bloggers they completely understand. You need to take care of yourself and your family first. Thank you

    • A burden shared is a burden lessened. I am so sorry that you had to endure such heartache, but I appreciate the fact that they produced such a heartfelt post. God Bless You.

    • This is the first time I have commented on here.Writing has been a part of me for most of my life. Writing volumes and volumes in journal form and never sharing with any one, well maybe a few close friends. With a burning urge inside me to write , but never feeling for filled. So , I thought I would try something new. I set up a blog. And little by little I feel more complete. As I read through your post I felt EVERY word with my name on it . Talking to me So closely defining my thought about writing and it’s relationship to me. It’s uncanny I had to stop and write a few word and thank you for this strong conformation…

      • Oh, that’s lovely! Congratulations on turning into a blogger, Nicholas. I look forward to reading more comments from you 🙂

    • Mary, others have already said it all. Warming thoughts to you, and as for the A-List, we’re not going anywhere – you’re our A-Lister!

    • Thank you for sharing this deeply personal post. May the power of sharing your truth guide you to healing. Writing has helped me heal over and over again, throughout my life.

      • I find your post extremely meaningful and timely, and am very grateful to you for writing it.
        This came exactly as I was realizing that for me as a writer who needs to write and does anything but, not writing is a kind of suicide. I know that sounds dramatic but for me this is correct, and I take your post as confirmation in its synchonicity. Oh, sigh.
        Many thanks indeed.
        ces

        • brings to mind the adage: “How can you call yourself a writer if you are not writing?”

        • Hi Cathryn, how about you write something and then share the link with us in the comments. I would love to read what you write! Writing is like being born afresh.

      • Leanne, you say, “Writing has helped me heal over and over again, throughout my life.” I think that’s the hidden side of writing – that’s it actually a healing art.
        Thank you.

    • eleaor says:

      enjoyed your article and yes I have experienced suicide more times than I would of wanted and writing helped me tremendously. I resonated with your feelings and I wish you well on your grieving an recovery journey.

      • Thank you, Eleaor. I’m glad that writing has helped you to recover and heal.

    • I love this Mary. I think any time you are vulnerable with your readers you make a stronger connection. Quashed creativity is a tough thing to face – I experience it a lot, so appreciate the conversation. My prayers go out to you and your family.

      • Yes, Claire – something amazing happens when you overcome your reluctance to share. Connection is born.

    • sheila says:

      Mary, that was beautiful. The best example of writing I’ve seen in a long time.

      Human expression in action.

      My condolences to you and your family.

      Take care,

      Sheila

    • Mary,

      My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Your honesty, vulnerability, and courage are inspiring and make me ask how I can open to them more deeply, myself. Please take care of yourself.

      Namaste,
      Julie

      • Thank you for taking the time to write your supportive comment, Julie.

    • So sorry Mary. And thank you for sharing. I have been hit by my own life’s hard knock in the last 6 months, thus I have not been active in anything. I get it. It’s difficult and I’ve had to find the space to ask for help as well, which is hard fo me. There is growth in it though.

      Feel better and take time to heal. Much Aloha to you.

      • Lovely to hear from you, JT! I often think of you and your loyal dogs living in Hawaii.

    • Kath says:

      Mary I have experienced this with losing my brother, I found that journaling helped me through the pain. When I look back over my diary the words still burn in my heart when I read them. Yet in a way it helped me discover that I wanted to be a writer too. Thanks for sharing on a topic that needs more light shed on it.

      • Oh, Kath – my heart goes out to you about losing your brother.

        I’m so glad that discovered writing as a healing art. It’s so important that something life-giving arises from tragedy.

        I hold you in my heart, Kath

    • Elle says:

      What a wonderful, vulnerable, heartfelt article Mary. It might have felt as though you had writers block, but your creativity flowed beautifully throughout. You already know how sad I am for your loss, but what you might not know is how inspired I am by you, as an individual and as a writer.

      You are beautiful.

      Love Elle
      xoxo

      • Thank you Elle – I’m so happy that I’ve somehow been able to inspire you.

    • Van Waffle says:

      It has been said that to be a good writer you have to be willing to make people uncomfortable. I often think I have to be willing to make myself uncomfortable. Thanks for writing this. It reminds me that the life experiences I avoid injecting into my writing may be the most potent subject material. I’m going to share this post with my fiction writing forum.

      • I like that, Van Waffle: “as a good writer you have to be willing to make myself uncomfortable”. Yes, something happens when we go beyond where we think we’re willing and able to go…

    • Janet Nuckolls says:

      Mary, I don’t even know you, so is it okay to say that I’m proud of you? Well, I am. I believe it took courage and strength to write this profound and moving article. I’ve forwarded it on to a couple of my friends, one who is devastated by widowhood, and the other, who after almost ten years, is still wounded by divorce. Loss comes in many forms. Thanks for sharing.

      • I feel honored and humbled by your comment, Janet. Thank you!

    • I wrote a post about suicide. I included important links to help people who have experienced it, or who are contemplating it.

      When we experience something like this, we can use our writing to reach out to help others from what we have learned.

      http://evapscott.com/what-i-learned-about-suicide

      • I read your article about suicide, Eva. It’s sensitive, beautiful, and very useful. At some stage you say, “The third thing I learned about suicide is no one wants to come out and tell others what happened.”

        As a family, we found that it was important to us and to everyone we came in touch with to be open and not hide the fact of suicide. It’s part of the healing process.

    • Chuck says:

      Hi Mary,

      My condolances to you and your family. Time will rebuild your hearts and lives – not to normal, but to a ‘new’ normal. Our prayers go with you.

      Blessings!

      Chuck

    • Karilee says:

      Mary, it’s going to take time to figure out how to refuel, and that’s okay. You can only give what you have to give.

      Try to take satisfaction in small accomplishments. Yes, if there wasn’t so much stress, so much pressure, so much exhaustion you would easily do more…. but there is. Baby steps will have to be enough, and any client, subscriber, or friend who can’t accomodate your grief and recovery isn’t enriching your life. Bless them with the wish that they’ll never know how you’ve been feeling, and let them go.

      Nurture yourself. Herbal teas, massages, movies that make you laugh, B vitamins, lots of sleep. Cherish your loved ones and limit beating up on yourself for “making excuses”. It is what it is, and when the time comes you’ll be prolifically productive again, but for now doing what you can is enough.

      Keep on asking for help, and know that most of us are just fine with the delay.

      • Dear Karilee – I took your advice today! I had a Thai massage and could feel my life energy gathering. Thank you for your lovely attitude and wise counsel.

    • Mary, there is no adequate way to say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Words pale in the face of such a tremendous hurt. You are right, over time the pain will ease, but there will always be that empty spot, that hole. At some point the pain won’t be so emotionally charged. At one point I was suicidal and fortunately there was enough intervention to keep me alive until I could finally receive the counseling I needed. Sadly suicide not only hurts the victim, but the survivors. I am praying for you, and thank you for sharing from your heart. You are right, by writing about this you provide help for others who are hurting. Keep writing and sharing.

      • Thank you for sharing your story, Heather. It’s so encouraging to read that you are a survivor and have managed to overcome depression.

        I send you all my best wishes.

    • nils says:

      When my father was in his 80’s, and he was becoming unable (physically) to do many things for himself we finally agreed that “to ask for help is hard to do, but…the hardest thing..is to let others help you when you really need it”.

      We think it’s hard ..(or not needed) to ask.. don’t we? But isn’t it harder to admit we need each other in those times when we don’t.. or can’t.. help ourselves? It’s the nature of being human to want to help each other out of concern, or love, but it’s also human nature to think we can do it ‘ourselves’. Just like when we were little kids and insisted “I can do it myself!”

      Ask… and become fully human. The rest of us will step up and help however we can because you are just like us in so many ways.

      Thanks for being open and sharing.

      Wish you well…and…I care about it.

      regards and much love.

      Nils

      • What a lovely comment, Nils.

        It reminded me of the fact that – according to my mother – what I used to say over and over as a child (being the youngest) is: “Me do it!” Me do it!”

        There is so much wisdom in what you say. For example: “Ask… and become fully human.”

    • Mary, I’m so sorry about your loss. Please know that your readers have you and your family in our thoughts.

      It says so much about who you are that in a time like this you’re thinking about your students. The article you wrote is such a gift to your readers. We have a lot to learn from you.

      You express truth about staying grounded in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies life can bring. My hope for you is that you continue to draw on your internal reserves of peace and presence.

      • Dear Jacki, the sense of community I get through reading your comment and those of our other wonderful readers helps to fill up my reserves of peace and presence. I’m grateful…

    • Mary, I’m sorry your nephew died.

      • Thank you for stopping back and leaving your heartfelt comment, Barbara.

    • Dear Mary: Fabulous post. I haven’t felt let down; I’m still working on the last class: Guest Posting. And it’s keeping me busy with three guest posts accepted so far.

      And, lo and behold, this post you just wrote was one of the greatest writing lessons of all: when you’re stuck, tell the truth and ask for help. You touched me deeply with your honesty.

      You are a bright shining light and that’s why I have been an AList member for a year and a half. My heart aches for you. Please don’t be hard on yourself. Thousands of people love you. And are inspired by you all the time. Everything is unfolding in its perfect time.

      • What a bright spark you are, Molly! Thanks for your supportive and positive attitude.

    • Patricia says:

      Mary, you have shared such a great loss here. I hope that you have the strength you need now.
      Suicide has impacted so many people. Take care, Patricia

    • Mary, I am so sorry for your loss – may precious memories carry you through this time bringing peace and comfort.

      Thank you too for sharing with us in such a beautiful, open way. Your courage and honesty have touched me and inspired me. Speaking your truth in such a real and vulnerable way opens the way for other writers who may hesitate or be fearful to see that it is okay to be vulnerable and share their raw moments.

      • I’m so glad to hear that my posts opens the way for others to express themselves.
        It’s such a difficult balance to bring your life challenges into a post, but not dump your feelings on others.

    • Doug Armey says:

      Mary:

      One of your best posts ever. So real, so searching, so personal.

      I am sorry it came out of such a devastating loss.

      You and your family are in my prayers.

      Thank you for sharing this gripping but encouraging post.

      • Lovely to see you here, Doug! I’m so glad you found the post ‘encouraging’.

    • Carla Moberg says:

      Dear Mary – Thank you for this posting. I know what you are going through; we lost our only son three years ago as a victim of suicide. Our lives are forever changed beyond anything most people can comprehend. A great grief counselor helped, a friend whose husband had also fallen victim to suicide helped. My writing has all but evaporated. I guess I am afraid to put the words on paper, or I feel that I need to write about our loss before I can move forward. This grief is one you carry every day; I don’t see an end to it. I do believe I can go forward in most things, but writing? I’m not so sure. I feel like giving up on writing and that makes me even more sad.
      I pray for your healing and that of your family,
      Carla

      • Dear Carla, thank you for sharing the incredibly sad story of your son being a victim of suicide. That you describe him as a ‘victim’ of suicide rings so true.

        About writing … your comment is beautifully written. I can sense that words come to you naturally. Maybe starting to write again may be your next step of healing…

        My heart goes out to you both.

    • My heart goes out to you, Mary. You are an inspiration. Life and writing can’t all be rah, rah, celebrate, celebrate, aren’t we great. But being real and connected and compassionate through all the ups and downs can be so very difficult. It’s hard to know how much to share when going through a rough time, because we don’t want to bring other folks down in the process. You shared what you’ve been dealing with in an open, balanced way, and I appreciate you for it.

      • Dear Laura, thanks for saying “You shared what you’ve been dealing with in an open, balanced way, and I appreciate you for it.”! I can tell you, I was so nervous about publishing this post that I woke up at 5AM (here in New Zealand) to take a peek at what commenters were saying…. what a relief to find such kind and supportive comments.

    • Kartikeye says:

      Thanks for sharing. This encouraged me a lot. And praying for you and your family as well. Thanks.

      • It’s very thoughtful of you to leave a comment, Kartikeye. It’s so healing to feel the support…!

    • Sending you a hug, Mary. The timing of this post is so meaningful to me, as I’m prepping a post about some of the unpleasant things that have been going on in my own life and draining me of energy.

      Your courage in providing a helpful tool for us in the midst of grief inspires me.

      And meanwhile…where are my questions so I can make my video? Send them over!

      • It’s such a huge pleasure when talented students turn into successful colleagues and friends – like you have!
        A big hug back, Carol

    • Mary,

      As one of your students, I admire your honesty and your courage.

      Know that what you have created is not just a ‘business’, but a community and extended family. Have faith that the people with whom you’ve spent years teaching and supporting will be here to support you when you need it most.

      Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

      Kimberley

      • Thank you so much for your supportive and kind words, Kimberley!

    • Sending you positive thoughts and prayer. I lost my father this past August, it has been a rough time but finding words and support has helped. Good for you for seeking support and sharing your story. You are an inspiration.

      • Thank you, Janet. I do hope that you are slowly finding your way into life again after the death of your father.

        Parents share so many of our memories and have a sense of our journey through life – right from when we were little. It’s difficult to adjust to life without parents…

    • Beth Havey says:

      Mary, everyone of us understands and supports you in your choices right now. You give so much of yourself all the time (often answering my emails when I know you must gets hundreds a day) that a time to be alone with your thoughts, to rest, reduce your stress and just be you for a while is important for you and for all of us.

      I am so glad that you shared your thoughts and feelings, that you honored us with your vulnerability. WE ARE ALL THERE SOMETIMES. My mother just died. I am moving across the country. I am so stressed out that I couldn’t do the Master Class even if I wanted to!

      We all need time to pause and catch our breath. I will send positive thoughts your way.

      Please take care of yourself,

      Beth Havey

      • Oh, I”m so sorry to hear about the death of your mother, Beth. A parent dying is always very hard – because we only have one mother and father.

        Thank you so much for your kind and understanding words, Beth.

        My heartfelt thoughts are with you…

    • Colleen says:

      Absolutely gorgeous piece of writing! Thank you for having the courage to be vulnerable. Every time a writer does this it helps other writers to also give themselves. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning.

      • Oh, I”m glad this post has sparked something in you, Colleen. Sometimes we just need a little bit of ‘permission’ to give of ourselves, don’t you think?

    • KSW says:

      Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. My heart aches for you and your family.

    • Ila Turner says:

      I put the term in brackets and I guess that is not allowed. Sorry I’ll try again: and if it does not work and you are interested you can find it by searching for broken heart deaths in Japan:

      The term is takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is named after the Japanese octopus traps which the broken hearts resemble.

      Ila in Maine

      • Dying of a broken heart? Yes, I think it’s possible. Maybe writing can help us mend the broken heart?

    • Ila Turner says:

      5 yrs. now and I’m still mourning the loss of my best friend, my Police buddy and a man who loved me as I found out afterwards as a woman and not just as a friend. Something I was too stupid, too blind to see and which caused him immeasurable pain. It just never occured to me that he would feel that way about me -ever.

      He died of a heart attack at 50 in his sleep. Japanese doctors say that people die of a broken heart, they have a term for it . I’ll always wonder.

      A suicide is so much more to deal with though. I admire your honesty, and asking for help, the first I could do, the second would be the hardest part for me personally.

      Does writing help? Yes sometimes, it helps me cry and that is cleansing. I have begun a picture and hand written journal recently that has helped a lot more. Whenever a memory comes to mind, no matter what triggers it, a song, a poem, I stop whatever it is and I sit and I write it in my journal as my tribute to him.

      Perhaps it might help you, and maybe someday it might be something you can share with your niece to help her as well.

      I wish you lovely memories and only you will know when its time to come back fully. Please don’t rush it, because if you do, you will pay for it later on.

      Be good to yourself.
      Ila in Maine

      • What a wonderful idea to start a ‘picture and hand-written journal’ as a tribute, Ila!

    • Janeen van Niekerk says:

      Wow, you really have had a huge mountain to climb. I’m sorry to hear of all the pain and hurt that you and your family are going through. Suicide is never an easy thing to understand or even go through as a bystander. I will be praying for all of you. All I can offer you is something that helped me – Take it one day at a time. Some are up, some are down, allow yourself to grieve.
      Thinking of you …

      • Thank you Janeen. You said, “Take it one day at a time. Some are up, some are down, allow yourself to grieve.” Important advice.

        It reminded me that grieving is not a linear progress.

    • Mary,
      Thanks for sharing such an intensely personal event in your life. I can only imagine the pain that caused you to write it. It is so meaningful for everyone, especially creative people who tend to feel everything at another level entirely.

      Here’s praying for solace for you and your family.

      • I think you’re right, Bina – as writers we need to feel everything more intensely -otherwise we aren’t able to ‘translate’ our emotions into words.

    • I agree with all that has been posted. This kind of writing, which I sometimes refer to as ‘vomiting on the page’ can be very cathartic.
      I have not encountered suicide personally, but as a psychologist I have come into close contact. I also ran a ‘Survivors of Suicide” group. Grief seems to be the most difficult to deal with. Can I cry in public? It’s two years, shouldn’t I be over this by now?
      Instead of dealing with it, people want to push it away, not deal with the pain. But it is just that, the pain that must be purged from the body and that has to be done slowly and carefully.
      Writing is a wonderful way of letting it go slowly and allowing healing to fill the hole in the heart. Cry when you wlsh, scream when you wish, allow yourself to do what needs to be done. Then you will allow the healing to come in.

      • Thanks for your helpful advice, Irene. I’m particularly struck by your suggestion that ‘purging the pain from the body’ must done ‘slowly and carefully’. Very wise advice! Thank you for that.

    • I havé just read your article, it’s so true. I found that I wrote better from what I have experienced.
      Thanks for sharing this.
      Hope you understand what I said cause I am french and it’s a bit hard to express myself correctly.

      Marie GUFFLET

      • You express yourself very clearly, Marie. There is a strange interplay between experience and writing. Life flows into our writing, and the process of writing flows into our life.

    • Mary, I just want to appreciate your courage in writing this post. It is so beautiful and inspiring. I can imagine it wasn’t easy to open up and share such a personal experience with the world. Thank you for it.

      Your post is such a stark reminder to me how lucky we are to be writers. I think we have the most powerful tool in the world at our disposal – words! Although, as you mention, writer’s block does hit us sometimes, a writer’s words still remains in there and is her most powerful gift. Look at this excellent post!

      Your words in this post cut both ways, they help you in your stride to do the best you can and move forward through a difficult life experience, and help your readers appreciate our shared human vulnerabilities and capacity to stand strong in the face of the most difficult of life’s challenges. We are lucky to be stewards of the word because we can use words to channel out our deepest, most earnest emotions and impact others.

      Thank you for this post and thank you to your friends and colleagues for coming to your help in your time of need. I pray you find strength to rise again and continue to be the strong mentor we know you.

      • You said, “We are lucky to be stewards of the word because we can use words to channel out our deepest, most earnest emotions and impact others.” That’s an important point because it means that, as writers, we shoulder a responsibility. So true …

        Thank you for sharing.

    • Carol Ann Gregg says:

      Thank you for sharing. When my young daughter-in -law died of breast cancer only 3 months after she was diagnosed, I couldn’t write about it at the time. I had an editor that told me that when I was ready she would be able to use a commentary about the situation and it was at least 18 months later before I could do that. Cling to your family. You all need each other. Your love will see all of you through this and bring you some peace.
      Carol Ann

      • How sad about your daughter-in-law dying of cancer, Carol Ann. What you say is beautiful: “Your love will see all of you through this and bring you some peace.” Thank you …

    • Sorry to hear that your family suffered the loss of a loved one.
      I have experienced losses but not as dramatic as yours.
      GOD will heal all sadness and anxiety in time.
      Believe in GOD for he is there always for us.
      FROM RICH SATTANNI/AUTHOR

      • Loss can’t be measured, Richard. Every loss triggers grief and shapes our lives. Thank you for your words.

    • Tim Lawhorn says:

      “Maybe any creative act that wells up from the core of our being and expresses who we are has the power to heal what is broken”

      Beautifully said …

      • Thank you, Tim. At times we need to remind ourselves of the power of creativity.

    • Mary, I can’t imagine how hard this post was to write. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. That”s what it felt like, a friend sharing what’s going on in life. The application to life, and also to writing is so obvious, but so often I’ve missed it. I’ll be praying for you and your family as you move forward.

      • Thank you so much for your warm words and prayers, Edie.

    • Take good care of yourself Mary – you have been a real inspiration to me in recent times as I try to get myself back on track while working through a debilitating illness. This experience has taught me how important it is to care about yourself as well as your work, especially during difficult times of grief. I hope you take some time to be still and recover from your loss. The prospect of new A-List material is certainly something to look forward to but it can all wait until you’re ready to start again….

      • Dear Colette, I do hope you are able to overcome your illness and get back on track with your life. My heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery go out to you.

        Yes. as you say, it’s “important to care about yourself as well as your work.” It’s a difficult balance, isn’t it?

    • What an encouragement Mary. Thanks for sharing. We all need prayers.

    • Marvin Ginsberg says:

      True story:
      Once I was in such a severe depression that I couldn’t get put of bed.
      Something inside me said, “write.”
      I got out of bed and I went to the desk and I didn’t know what to write.
      I said, “Pencil, you do the writing. I have no idea what to write.” I picked up the pencil and it began to write. I laughed so much that it broke me put of the deep depression.
      It began a new writing form.
      This was 35 years ago.
      I am now writing stories to uplift others

      • What an uplifting story, Marvin! I love the bit where you said, “Pencil, you do the writing. I have no idea what to write.” That’s how I felt when I started writing this post.

    • Cecilia says:

      Mary, my sympathies to you in dealing with loss and pain. The strength of your spirit and will came through the writing for me. Thank you for sharing, teaching and modeling with words. I will share your work. Thank you!

      • Thank you, Cecilia. It’s strange, really – we seem to ‘teach and model’ when we are least aware of it …

    • Perhaps one of your best, Mary.

      So many profound insights in this post about the human experience. Not mentioned are some of the “why’s” behind a few things. Not out of omission – but out of your own humility.

      Your students (me included) wait patiently because we know you and the quality you bring. Some things are worth waiting for. Your fellow bloggers come to the table to help because of the kind of person you are and because of the excellent friend you’ve been to them.

      A powerful and brave post. Not that courage or strength from you surprises anyone here. 🙂 This one ranks among my favorites. Truly a Mary special.

      • Bobbi Emel says:

        Mary, I’m just tagging onto Gary’s post because it’s as though we were speaking with the same voice. Thanks so much for sharing your journey.

        We love you.

      • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Gary. I really appreciate your support.

    • sylvie says:

      Oh thank you for this great article,

      So “human”, you show us the road for a great writer.

      I love it !

      Sylvie

    • This post was EXCELLENT and completely true! I won’t add to it, but I will be sharing it!

      • I appreciate that you took the time to write a comment, Marilyn. (As you can imagine, I was a bit nervous when comments started to come in…)

    • Thank you for sharing this with us, Mary. I lost my own brother and father to suicide and it’s one theme of my writing about becoming mentally ill and the life afterwards. I think about these things now, as I write, and as I see clients daily. What if…? Can I continue to give to my audience, to my clients who count on me? I love your suggestion…”and the way forward is…” Emily is right, there are no words of comfort here…except to say, I’m sorry, and thank you for sharing with us.

    • Mary, I appreciate your honesty. It’s the total opposite of an excuse. I think most people appreciate genuineness and will show compassion. Your post was very timely and well written!
      -Shelly Miller, Author of Tornado Valley: Huntsville’s Havoc

    • Thank you so much for sharing this Mary.
      Grief can just knock the wind out of you, and the creativity, too. I think (if life allows) we need to allow ourselves time to reel, and sit and stare, and stop producing, working, giving. Because sometimes the burden on us is too heavy for us to do anything but bear it.

      And yet your advice is perfect. Our craft really does aid in healing, both ourselves and others. This post was a blessing to me today.

      And I am so sorry to hear you were touched by suicide.
      There are no words to comfort.

      And yet, writers can’t help but share some words regardless…
      The following post was written after our pediatrician committed suicide and I had to talk with my children about it.

      http://www.weakandloved.com/2012/08/suicide-talk-i-did-not-want-to-have.html

      • Dear Emily, I read your post about how difficult it was to tell your children about the suicide of your pediatrician. Very touching…
        Thanks for sharing the link

    • BG says:

      Beautiful post, thank you for sharing, Mary!
      Just the other day I felt like all I did in front on my computer was writing empty shells… words without substance. And somehow I did about the same things, that you seemed to do: Breathe, admit the pain, go for truth, go for vulnerability. I think I came out stronger and right now I feel closer to my heart.

      It reminds me of what Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird: That writing is often about finding the monster within and then finding your own personal way to come to terms with it and expressing in your own unique voice. That’s frightening, but for me it’s a great supplement to meditation practice: The stubborn act of facing my inner darkness again and again without being overwhelmed by it.

      Somehow, you’re post has just lifted me up 🙂

      • Thanks so much for your words, BG. I’m so glad that my post lifted you up.


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