Text Size

April 2009



By : Linda Vigil

Forgiveness has been a very difficult road for me to travel.

When we lost our daughter Mia, twenty five years ago, we found a journal that she had left to her boyfriend. She wrote that at the age of 18, she was devastated by their break-up —the love of her life. She had an abortion, which she never shared with anyone, accept the boyfriend. She could not see past this devastating pain —a pain that would eventually lessen —and that one day she would learn to love again.

As Mia's mom, I felt that I could never forgive this young boy. I blamed him for Mia's death! He did not push her off the bridge that night, —but I believed that he had destroyed her spirit !

I learned that even thinking of 'forgiving' someone right after they had hurt you, is an inappropriate response to an injustice. One needs time to grieve, and that could take six months to two years —or even longer. Then one day, two years after Mia's death, her father and I were so full of anger and hate, we looked at each other crying —and had to admit to God and to ourselves that we had to let it go !

Every time we felt anger after that one day, we would take a deep breath and let it out slowly. We tried to think of someone we loved. Instead of thinking of ourselves as the victims, we tried to share our story with others, and we shared the progress we had made with our grief healing.

We attended self-help groups and we were in counseling to help us let go of our anger. You find out that no matter what you have been through, thousands of people have lived through worse.

I learned to love the Life I had, instead of longing for the Life I didn't.

I found out that Forgiveness is a response to an injustice, and a turning toward the good in the face of something bad. Forgiveness Is A Choice. I also found out forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing! The person who has hurt you can be forgiven without reconciliation.

The favor of forgiving is for Me —not for the person I am forgiving. Forgiveness reduces the level of toxic stress you carry around in your body. Forgiveness also deepens your capacity to feel close to other people. Forgiveness in my life continues to be a daily journey.

Sometimes the road is easy and other times it can be a very bumpy ride !

Which leads us into our - Sharing and Healing !

- January 31, 2005-






Surprising News About ... SPRING ~ By Holly Siebert

For the most part we have been lucky with a mild winter. Many still look forward to spring to alleviate restlessness by spending more time outdoors, witness the rebirth of plant life, and the return of animals and chirping birds. People tend to be in a better mood, re-energized at this time of year, but to many, spring is not so rosy and can be deadly.

You may be shocked to read that there is a perplexing relationship between warm weather and an increase in suicide. As spring time arrives, the chances for severely depressed and discouraged individuals to plan, attempt and commit suicide rises significantly. According to the American Association of Suicidology, this "occurs most frequently in the six months between March and August," especially May and June. It seems more reasonable to hear the statistics of suicide rates going up during the "holiday blues" particularly Christmas, New Year's and the pressures of happy couples in love on Valentine's Day.

There are waves of occurrences throughout the year, yet surprisingly, there are less occurrences in the winter. AAS also reports that December has, "the lowest total for suicides during the entire year." This may be due to the phenomena of "making it through the holidays," and "misery loves company." They tend to find themselves surrounded by many others in the same mood, due to the increase of individuals experiencing depressive symptoms at this time, and support of this topic in the media. Once spring arrives, most people shake these feelings off as "spring fever," while the truly clinically depressed remain in their sadness, feeling just as depressed as before. Spring can seem very lonely with the awareness of the difference between you and others, and that you "should" be feeling just as good. It can also feel incredibly pressuring with the idea that spring is a time for "new beginnings and new life," and it becomes too much for them to bear.

Friends and family members may use a watchful eye in the winter months on their loved ones in this mental state. They sense that they are getting better and unfortunately, that is when they commit suicide. Those that begin to come out of their depression, or a "partial remission," are at even higher risk, as they have increased energy to be successful" in their attempt. Chris Thompson, the director of healthcare at "The Priory Group" in Britain, says, "paradoxically, sunlight-driven changes in levels of the feel good chemical, Serotonin, may make people more aggressive, and if they are depressed they could direct that aggression at themselves." Researchers also found that sunlight inhibits production of Melatonin, that effects behavior, and Canadian scientists supply supporting research that link seasonal changes in bright sunlight with more violent suicides.

So, what are you to do if you are concerned someone may be suicidal? Here are some signs to look for if you are suspicious of someone being at risk:

1. Recognize depression! This is expressed as a loss in pleasure, withdrawal from activities and other people, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, fatigue, extreme difficulty in concentrating and/ or making decisions, and feelings of worthiness and/or guilt. Symptoms that are accompanied by hopelessness, desperation, extreme anxiety and/ or agitation, and increased alcohol and/or drug use, put an individual at even greater risk.

2. Red flags should go up if they are talking about death or suicide. This can include comments such as, "you'd be better off without me," and speak as if they are saying goodbye.

3. Various behaviors, such as, giving away their personal belongings, paying off debts, changing or making a will , and anything else that seems as though they might be "putting their affairs in order." They may also have a detailed plan as to how they will take their life.

4. Approximately one-half of suicides had previous attempts. Women tend to choose less severe methods, such as medication overdoses, than solid approaches by men, such as firearms. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that, "83% of gun related deaths are suicides, often by someone other than the gun owner (within the same home."

5. Don't be afraid to talk about it with your loved one!!Often we fear that this may encourage it, rather, this works as a prevention by releasing the 'secret' and promoting their thought and realization that there are reasons for living. Ask them how long they have felt this way, do they have a plan, and encourage them to talk about it as much as they need. Help them make a safety plan to utilize when they feel they may be a danger to their self.

By : Jaime Clayton

When the hard times come along
And your desire is far too gone
When your heart is far from strong
You can find Strength in me

When the world seems like it's ending
As if everyone is pretending
When your soul is full of doubt
You can find Faith in me

When the sky is dark from rain
And your mind is full of pain
If you need something to brighten up your day
You can find Light in me

When your Knee's begin to buckle
And your breath is taken away
When standing alone is not an option
You can lean Me

Mourning the Death of a Parent
By Robin Fiorelli VITAS National Director of Bereavement and Volunteer Services

A 45-year old woman who lost both of her parents within nine months of each other laments, "The death of my parents was a shattering experience. Suddenly there was no buffer between me and my mortality. I felt like I was nobody's child-an abandoned orphan. It forced me to grow up suddenly as everyone began to see ME as the new parent in the family."

If the relationship with a parent was close, many bereaved adult children feel they have lost a friend and advisor. They lament there is no longer anyone who can truly relate to their childhood memories, nor anyone with whom they can openly share their awards, achievements and grandchildren.

Old sibling rivalries and jealousies can reappear at the time of a parent's death, especially when there is contention over the inheritance. When a parent dies, many adult children begin to explore the meaning of their life and examine the direction their life is taking. Some make significant changes in their life.

~~ These suggestions may help you navigate the grief over a parental loss ~~

*Acknowledge the importance of the loss and allow yourself to grieve completely. Feelings of anger, ambivalence, guilt and shame are normal.

*Don't pressure yourself to get back to normal.

*Address any unfinished business with your deceased parent by writing a letter, talking with someone you trust or seeking help from professionals.

*Join a bereavement support group to share your feelings with others.

*Create a new family patterns, rituals and ceremonies. Prepare in advance for special Holidays and anniversaries.

*Each year, acknowledge the anniversary of the death of your parent. Create a memorial by donating to a charity in your parent's name planting a tree, visiting the cemetery or making a memory book.

*Take your friends and family up on their offers to help. Be specific about what you need.

*Learn to parent yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you.

Although the death of a parent is the most common form of bereavement in the United States, it is no less significant. Take comfort in knowing that the pain you feel after the loss of a parent, although it will never go away, should lessen with time. Even though almost 12 million Americans bury a parent every year, society believes that because it is expected that our parents will die, bereaved adult children need to "get over it quickly and move on."

"When you are sorrowful,
look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth
you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

Kahil Gibran - The Prophet



Adapted from a piece by Emily Per Kingsley

We are often asked to describe the experience of having lost a loved one, by people who have not had the loss happen to them, so that they can imagine and try to understand how we feel and thus maybe help others.

"You are going to feel," we tell them, "that what has happened to you has never happened to anyone else like you before. The belief that these things happen to other people, not people like us, will be shattered forever."

It's like planning a trip, this being the trip through life ...but you're going to Italy. You have bought and studied all of the guide books and made your wonderful plans. You know that you will visit Rome. The Coliseum. You will see the works of Michelangelo. You will ride the gondolas in Venice. You will even take the time to learn some handy phrases in Italian. Italy is going to fill a lifelong dream.

After months of eager anticipation the travel day finally arrives. You pack your bags, you get on that airplane and off you go. Several hours later the plane lands. The stewardess comes down the aisle and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland," you scream. "What happened to Italy. I signed up for Italy. I have always planned for Italy. All my life I've dreamed of Italy."

"But," she tells you, "there has been a change in plans. You have now landed in Holland and so ...here we are."

We must now convince ourselves that we haven't really been taken to a horrible, disgusting filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. A place that wasn't in our plans to ever travel to. So now you must go out and get new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. You will meet a new group of people that you would have never met.

You will find that when you catch your breath, and you look around, you will begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland even has Rembrandts. Yes, you can live with Holland.

After some time you will meet other people who are planning to go to Italy and you will meet people who have been there and you will say to yourself, for the rest of your life, "...yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned for myself."

And the pain of that loss will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream will always be a very significant, and a very real loss through the rest of your life.

INDIAN SUICIDES HIGHER - Native American Teens More Likely To Take Their Own Lives

By MICHAEL COLEMAN - Journal Washington Bureau

Native American teenagers are more than three times as likely to commit suicide as teens in the general population, and poverty, substance abuse and a lack of treatment are key reasons why, according to witnesses at a congressional hearing.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee invited experts from around the country-including New Mexico-to offer insights into the grim suicide statistics and offer suggestions on how to combat the problem. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM., is a member of the committee and attended the hearing
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between the ages of 10 and 24, American Indian and Alaska Native youth have the highest suicide rate of any adolescent and young population. Suicide rates between the ages of 15 and 34 are more than two times higher than the national average for the comparable age group.
New Mexico, which has the fifth highest Native American population in the country, has the seventh-highest rate of suicide among the states for youth from ages 10 to 24.
Hayes A. Lewis, is a member of the Zuni tribe and an administrator at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, encourage Indian people, who have traditionally been reluctant to discuss suicide and the devastation it wrecks on families to talk about it.
"Unless we own the problem, nothing will happen," Lewis told the committee. "In a tribal community, you're told you can't talk about death, but if we don't talk about death, how will we help the living?"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Indian communities are desperately short on counselors who can help young Native Americans deal with their problems before they become seemingly insurmountable.
"There is not really accessible treatment by qualified professionals, and that is something we have to fix," said Reid, whose father committed suicide at the age of 60.
The 2010 budget blueprint unveiled by President Barack Obama contained $4 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, up $600,000 million from current year funding. Some of that money could be used on suicide prevention programs, committee members suggested.
"That's a good sign, —a very good sign," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee.
Udall said there is a "growing awareness" of the suicide problem in Indian Country and that could help free up at least some money in Congress to combat the problem. "We need to make sure the dollars are there to deal with this," Udall said.


Angel Of The Bridge
By : Courtney White

When I look out to the bay
I see something that went away

Beautiful but how the bridge is blue
Big and tall reminds me of who?

I have heard many stories
And heard of all your glories

Someone I wish to meet
but it looks like you're off your feet

I know what your like
pretty, nice, loving, funny, also you liked your bike

every year we go to your tree
we too love the breeze

We miss you
I hope you're happy, I love you

Strong, Silent, & Sad By Eric Billingsley (Albuquerque Journal)

Men are less likely to be diagnosed, treated for depression.

Men can be down-right stubborn when it comes to admitting they feel sad, lonely, scared or, heaven forbid, depressed. To do so, at least in the minds of many men, is an admission of weakness, a blow against their masculinity. It flies in the face of being the "strong, stoic provider."

So they bury themselves in work and "get things done" rather than ask for help.
"Here in the West we 'cowboy-up," says Dr.Howard Ottenheimer, a clinical psychologist in Santa Fe, " I think (talking about emotions) is a skill that's lacking for men and it's something that's taught from a young age."

But stoicism has it's cost.

Men do get depressed. But studies show they are less likely to be diagnosed and receive treatment than women, it can affect their physical health, relationships and social well-being. And the risk of depression and suicide increases as they get older.

"The good thing about being a 'traditional guy' is that it's a lot of fun," says Tim Strongin, a psychologist with Samaritan Counseling Center of Albuquerque. "But it leaves you vulnerable to depression."


A study by the University of California at Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences found that men's traditional views of masculinity and the stigma associated with mental illness lead to a tendency for them to reject a diagnosis of depression and to conceal or mask symptoms.
"Old school" or "John Wayne type" older men were considered difficult to diagnose and treat "because they perceived the cultural meaning of depression to be in conflict with their own views of themselves as men," said the study.
Those findings are important for public health because there's a link between depression and suicide in older adults. Older men have one of the highest rates of completed suicide: 31.8 per 100,000 in men age 65 and older, compared to 4.1 per 100,000 in older women.
Ottenheimer says many men have alexithymia, a condition where a person doesn't have the words to describe his or her emotions. "When you ask how they're feeling, they say fine," he says. "They can't identify feeling hurt, loneliness or fear. This creates a problem in terms of intimacy and relationships in general, because intimacy needs that sharing of emotions."
Boomers and older men are also going through major life changes, says Strongin. Their bodies may not be functioning at an optimum level. After retirement, they lose their professional identity and sense of purpose. And they may be witnessing friends dying around them.
"When boomers were young, the whole world was their oyster, but who wants to become an old guy?" says Strongin. "When a guy gets depressed and no longer sees the beauty in life, it's downhill from there. Somebody's going to have to reach out to him."

Older men often experience "vegetative" symptoms such as an increase in physical ailments, fatigue, decreased sex drive, sleep problems, substance abuse and despair about the future, says Strongin. Younger men may experience vegetative symptoms, but are more likely to "act out" to stimulate themselves out of a depressive state.
The younger man is blessed with so much energy that it's going to take a lot of depression to keep him down," says Strongin. "As a guy gets older, he views life as having less potential."
Family members need to take it seriously when their loved ones increase alcohol consumption, withdraw socially and talk about suicide, he says.
Ottenheimer says many older men are referred to mental health treatment by their primary care physicians. An astute medical doctor is often able to identify when physical ailments may be related to depression, he says.
"In our culture it's Ok for men to have physical problems, but not Ok to have emotions," says Ottenheimer.
Dr. David Ley, executive director of New Mexico Solutions in Albuquerque, is seeing an increase in the recognition of depressive symptoms in men, especially older men.
Men are often diagnosed with depression after they have come in for a different problem-such as couples therapy, trouble at work or substance abuse, he says.
"That's when the underlying depression that's been there for a long time can be diagnosed and treated," say's Ley.
He adds that older men are at particularly high risk of substance abuse and suicide now because of the unstable economic times. Having matured in their professions, they often feel the brunt of a slow economy more than younger men.
And they are historically the ones who've been reluctant to get help for stress and other mental health problems.
"There are substance abuse and mental health services available to them, when you can get them to come in," says Ley.

But even when boomers and older men acknowledge they are depressed, it takes time to break through the John Wayne-type mentality, says mental health professional.
If a guy is feeling depressed, he first should talk with loved ones and his doctor, stay active and surround himself with friends, says Steongin. "There are a million ways to feel better," says Strongin. He adds, there are plenty of psychologists and counselors out there who are boomer age and older, which can help in establishing a level of comfort. And the gender of the therapist doesn't always matter.
"As a psychologist it's a challenge and you have to build trust, that connection," says Ottenheimer, "and then you work together as a team."
Using anti-depressant medication may be a part of the process, he says, because it can lift the bottom. But it isn't prescribed in all cases. Especially important is giving men somebody to talk to and helping them better understand and articulate what they are feeling.
Many men come in saying they feel like they're crazy, when, in fact, they're going through very human and normal experiences and emotions, says Ottenheimer. "Awareness can make a big difference," he says, "because once you see a problem it reduces the anxiety that surrounds it."

There are things that we don't want to happen ...but have to accept
some things we don't want to know ...but have to learn,
and people we can't live without ...but have to let go.

~ Author Unknown ~


Security code