In Honor of Wes and 20,000 Survivors of Suicide Loss

Dear fellow survivors,

On July 5th, it will be three years since my beloved cousin Wes took his own life.

As I work on my grief journey and grow stronger, I reflect on how others in our suicide loss survivor community uplifted me, offered encouragement, and helped me make it through the day, one heartbeat at a time. The biggest gift that I was given was hope. 

Today, in honor of Wes, and the nearly 20,000 members of the Alliance of Hope forum, I want to pass that hope forward. I invite you to join me. Between today and June 20th, I will match all donations to the Alliance of Hope, dollar-for-dollar — up to $20,000.

My grief has softened with time, but it is still with me. I have learned I will carry it with me always, along with my love for Wes. 

Wes was 42 years old, a father of six. Handsome and talented, he would do anything for you. He was a bright and beautiful spirit. We all miss him terribly. As the oldest of 13 first cousins, I have great memories of us growing up together, having our own kids, and watching them grow up together as well.

In the first few days after he died, I didn’t know where to turn. I was in a fog. I tried to find resources for my aunt and other family members. I found a local agency that had support group meetings (Friends for Survival), but their next meeting was several days away. Their executive director, Marilyn Koenig, suggested I visit the Alliance of Hope. That was the lifeline I needed.  

Now, three years later, it’s time for me to continue my journey of healing and help others.

I am honored to volunteer my skills working with Alliance of Hope as their operations manager. And because I have seen firsthand how important their work is I am investing in the future of survivor services with a $20,000 Match Gift Challenge in honor of my cousin, Wesley Dalton Lincoln.

I know it would make Wes happy to know that I am giving back to others in his memory.

Please join me today in supporting the Alliance of Hope – a caring and compassionate organization that has helped me, and countless others, cope with and heal from traumatic and life-altering loss. Together we can move forward with hope, and help new survivors know they are not alone. Thank you for your support.

One More Day?

In 2011, my first grandson and favorite nephew both took their lives, 5 weeks apart. We had shared family times together, and good times alone together. It was the times when we were alone together that we talked and shared the most. I learned more about them and their hopes and dreams during those times than when in groups. Sometimes even their concerns. They seemed more relaxed during those times. We would laugh so much. Tell so many stories. I had not been able to see either for a while before they died. So, one more day is something wonderful to imagine.

If one more day was possible, I would take the boys to the place I grew up. We would walk along a hard-to-see small trail, along a spring creek through the woods to the harbor and along the boardwalk to the beach. We would take a blanket and lunch. We would look at the birds and flowers in the woods and on the beach. Look at the seashells on the beach and spread the blanket under where the palms give shade and the water sounds sing to you gently and only the occasional chug-chug of the shrimp boat motors remind you that other people exist.

We would eat fried chicken, potato salad, and good bread and cheese. Then we would lie down and talk of the things they love, love to think about, and love to do. I would be so proud of the things they had done and tell them so. We would go back to the harbor and go crabbing. Take the crabs back to the house and cook them up with spices, potatoes, and eggs in the boil mix. Then we would sit at the picnic table out back and eat the crabs and tell jokes and stories until the light of day faded and it was over. There would be lots of laughing and hugs. Like it used to be the times I saw them. 

Both of them had been there in their life, not at the same time. One loved the woods, the other the beach. We were family, friends and a comfort to each other when together. We would be one more time.

The house is now gone, courtesy of Katrina. The boys are gone also. But that is what I would do if given the gift to be able to do so. I do it in my mind sometimes, not often anymore. I do tell them on the wind how loved they are. Those are good things in this now I am living in.

About the Author

Wisdom From Our Community

"Wisdom From Our Community" posts originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and are reprinted with the permission of the authors. Our online forum transcends time and distance, offering a culture of kindness, hope, and understanding to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Operating like a 24/7 support group, our forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Members can read and comment, share their stories, and connect with other suicide loss survivors.Read More »

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