One of Many

not_alone.jpgBefore I lost my husband to depression, I was so unaffected by the word 'suicide'.  

The word itself and casual references are everywhere in our society.  In the lyrics of popular songs and common terms of phrase; it pops up unexpectedly in movies and tv shows and it features in art work, like Banksy's 'suicidal butterflies'.  

I'm ashamed to admit that I never gave a thought to just how hurtful this could be before my life was changed so drastically by suicide.

I sang along to songs like Sean Kingston's 'Beautiful Girls' never considering how it must sound to those of whom the word 'suicide' was not just another empty term - but instead the most painful word that exists in the English language.

Of course, after Dan's death, my world became scattered with these triggers that pop up and slap me in the face constantly and without warning.  

Yesterday, I heard through a fellow widow that Amazon was selling t-shirts featuring horrible, tasteless images of suicide.  These shirts were being marketed as 'humorous' but were nothing less than shocking and, frankly, disgusting.

My friend shared a link to an online petition that had been started by a man from Toronto who was a suicide survivor, calling for Amazon to remove these items from sale and apologise for their lack of sensitivity.  

I immediately clicked through and signed the petition, at the time there were approximately 1700 signatures and the goal was to reach 2500.  As I write this now, there are now more than 41,000 signatures and Amazon has acted, taking the offensive products off their site.  

As upsetting as it was to see these shirts for sale, I was overwhelmed with gratitude by the uproar that it sparked on my Facebook feed.  I saw that many of my widow friends (and non-widowed friends!) shared it on their own pages and their posts were flooded with comments of support for the cause combined with disgust that such a horrid product was even created, let alone being sold.

When a death-trigger hits (like seeing such a serious word being bandied about) I have a physical reaction.  My face starts burning, my stomach lurches and my heart begins to race.  I feel an anxiety slowly rise and a rinding in my ears. It's very isolating, as if the world around me has fallen away and the air has grown thick, so my breathing becomes heavy.  

However, as others spoke up to say 'no, that it's not ok' - well, it was as if a cool, comforting hand had been placed on my shoulder and the noise started to quieten.  I'm not alone - it's not just me.  

My community is by my side and by taking action against something so offensive, our words were heard.  I know the relief I felt, so I can only imagine how the brave man who started the petition must feel tonight.  I hope he knows that he made a difference to me (and many others) and that we are grateful.  

Today I was proud to be part of our widowed community.  I'm not alone, I'm one of many and we have a loud voice.  

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