Misery loves company.

A miserable person likes to be around other miserables so they can all congregate and be miserable together, right?

The ailing and broken-hearted can assemble, share their horror stories, and dwell on their misfortunes as a collective rather than singularly, right?

Being of the strong-natured, private type, I never felt the need.

Sometimes those who need help the most, don’t even know it. And sometimes, we don’t know what we need, until we find it.

Or it finds us.

I’ve learned that it’s not that misery loves company; it’s the Alcoholics Anonymous thing. It’s the, “people just like you . . . helping you”, thing.

Because there is a healing that happens only when you gather with those who share your unique brand of suffering.

For those of us who have lost someone to suicide, our pain is difficult to explain. We don’t dwell on it; we live with it.

Last year I attended the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” which raises funds and brings awareness to suicide prevention. And even though I lost my sister to suicide, I didn’t attend for any other purpose than to blog about it.

Oddly, I hadn’t anticipated the overwhelming emotions I’d feel. The moment I arrived, I wanted to leave. But I didn’t. I stayed but I was tightly wrapped. I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t share my story. I never said my sister’s name. I walked the walk, took my snaps, went home, and blogged it. Please read, “Out of the Darkness”, at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-gC.

It didn’t touch me. Too much.

This year, I didn’t know that I was ready.

And on Sunday, October 13, 2013, at the AFSP Downriver “Out of the Darkness Walk”, I found out that I was. Ready . . . to be touched.

I had planned on my usual modus operandi of hiding behind my camera, but soon found that instead of it being my shield, it was providing an unintended gateway.

I took my photographs alright, but I was talking to people. And sharing. Repeatedly, I heard myself say, “I lost my sister, Chris, to suicide. I understand and I’m so sorry for your loss”.

There were hugs and tears, and names and laughter, and more hugs. There were strangers who became friends, and then as friends, we became a kind of special family.

We weren’t there to dwell on our misery.

We were there to feel the comfort of being with people who understand and know our pain. We didn’t need to explain anything. And no one here would say the wrong thing or fail to understand. Or tell us to just move on.

We did not gather to share our misery.

We gather with all of our grief, pain, and love, and with the life and power of a tsunami, and we walk. We walk to change.

We walk to honor those we’ve lost to suicide. And to bring suicide out of the closet’s icy darkness and into the warm light of day. The ugly stigma cannot live in the light.

Only hope lives there.

So we walk. And we find community. And we make new friends, who understand.

And Out of the Darkness . . . comes hope.



“Thank you” to Event Coordinators Gerri Trager & Tanya Duffy, and their amazing volunteers for a truly healing event.

And to my dear friend, Pat Petroline, who knew what I needed even when I didn’t, and then got me there despite my excuses and all of my quirks. Thank you, girlie.


*The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org.

*Also see: http://www.outofthedarkness.org & survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

*Donations accepted at:


*If you have lost someone to suicide:  http://www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, CALL: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)* 



Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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  1. Lynn Gardner

    That was so moving! You really have found your calling! xoxo

  2. Beautifully done my friend!
    I watched your slide show with tears in my eyes & a smile on my heart.

    • Thank you for everything, girlie. And I mean everything. I wouldn’t have even been at the event, had it not been for you. My heart to yours……forever. xoJulia

  3. Oh, dear Julia, the audio slideshow was so, so moving. And I didn’t know you had lost your sister to suicide. I’m so sorry, my friend! May you walk on in peace————-

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Thank you so so much, Kathryn. Your words and your friendship bring comfort and warm my heart. Now you can see why I’ve been so shamefully neglecting my reading! I still have you in my inbox waiting to be read! Blessings to you and your beautiful Sara! xoJulia


  5. I am simply both weeping and smiling. How beautiful Julia. Thank you for sharing your heart with us all.

    • Oh, Patty! Thank you so much for reading and watching my video! You are so sweet! It means so much to me! Thank you…..xoxoJulia

  6. Very special message Julia ! Your blog and video are going to touch so many lives ~ Keep up the good work my sweet friend !! I’m so proud of you !! XO

  7. Hi Julia,

    Once again a great post.

    I hold another perspective though and this is based on how I have seen myself show up under different situations. When I have been empowered and confident, I have felt like sharing my situation and competence with others. Mostly this behaviour emanated from a confidence in my abilities and a feeling of gratitude somewhere within.On the other hand, I have tended to go into my own hole and break off outside contacts when miserable.Was I somewhere relating my misery with a loss of face and hence the necessity to hide?


    • Shakti, I don’t know. But I don’t associate my misery or pain with a loss of face or shame in any way. I think that with some of us, when we’re suffering….we just isolate. We go internal. We feel alone, so we put ourselves alone. We think we’ll bring others down if we share our pain. But it doesn’t work that way. When you share your pain, it becomes a little less. And the other person doesn’t carry the weight….the weight just diminishes. Please know that you are not alone and that you have a friend here. I thank you for sharing in my blog and I wish you the wonderfulness of life. xoJulia

  8. That was really sweet to read! It is good to gather with others who understand what we are going through. I haven’t lost anyone to suicide, but I have had alcoholism in the family and it is good to gather with others who understand what it is like to live with an alcoholic. We don’t whine and complain (too much lol) we just gather strength and support from each other. Thanks for sharing your story!

  9. Lynn Marchant

    As a writer so highly charged with emotion, you never fail to access, identify and deal with every single one of them, Julia!
    Courageous Julia has no demons, that she cannot face. She is emotionally Blessed. I doubt whether ANYONE walked this walk alone, because their hearts reached right out, to Infinity. So many nearest and dearest ‘departed’ Angels must have walked along lovingly … healing with them.

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