All Together Beautiful

courage, rest, Uncategorized, Vulnerability


I was enthralled by her retelling.  Her hand holding her daughter’s. Her husband took his life. She did not know why.

I listened and agreed,  there is yet, no reason why. They’d unraveled, retold, no answers. Nothing to have known.

The pauses are long sometimes. Have they more to say?  Are there replies that might heal?  We pause.

The room is still; but, not uneasy.

She reaches into her purse, I figure to fill empty space, maybe look for Kleenex or phone.

Instead, she finds a book and she reads to us about grief and the only thing that has brought comfort, she adds.

“Grief” she read aloud, is hard and it is unpredictable and onerous in its coming, occasional going and coming again.

Still, if there is the opportunity to notice beauty, then there are moments that feel less like grief.

Oh, I thought, the noticing makes the difference…yes, me too.

I lead the meetings and I’m awkward at times and I’m sad later, not during,

having heard their stories.

I take them with me home.

But, I listened as she read from little green book and my eyes welled up as she offered hope to the ones who were there to make her hopeful,  help her make sense of her senseless.

So, I cried a little in the presence of her bravery on that, her first time at support group.

I woke at 5 the next morning, thinking of beauty, I drifted and slept for a little longer, more pleasant.

Ventured down the hall, good morning pats on heads of dogs and then walked outside with them onto grass barely daylight lit.

Tennis ball tosses, one or two and then I look down on shadowy ground obscure.

One, I see and reach down to collect it, then two, three blue feathers at my slippered feet. Not too many know, my place of settling,  everything an arrangement of three.

And I’m thinking still, two nights later about the complexity of pattern, of life, of grief, of brave recitation and of my mind

that woke with thoughts of beauty and followed to find it there.

Thinking now of all of the all togethers of beautiful noticing.

God is everywhere.

Don’t forget to notice.

All together beautiful.

Encounters, Grief and Joy

Children, courage, Faith, family, grace, Motherhood, Teaching, Uncategorized, Vulnerability

I was more than a little excited to see her.  She and I, I realized when we met almost four years ago now, had the same long, slow southern accent.IMG_0228_kindlephoto-372860

I was sure she must be from Georgia and even more sure, I decided, we had to be distant relatives.  Her dialect, her slow and lilting sentences ending with just a slight upturn. Well, she sounded like me I decided and so, I was happy to know her.

So, when I saw her on an early morning estate sale venture, I couldn’t wait to say, “Hey” and “Oh my Lord it’s been a really long time.”

I was joyous to see her there.

I wasn’t prepared for her response, she leaned back, was hesitant. I  figured “Oh well, she doesn’t remember me”   or does but, can’t remember how. Still, I was just so happily surprised over seeing her again.

I should have read her cues, should have seen it for what it was.

Instead, I added, “Remember, from the group?”  She said, “I remember.” nothing more. It was clear she wished I hadn’t reminded her, refreshed the memory.

It was humid;  awkward and cramped, standing amongst the trinkets, treasures,and big patterned armchairs.

She’d moved away, opened an antique shop in a pretty little town.  She’d come back, was in charge of the sale that day.

Someone offered a fan, she replied “I’m fine.” and turned to look towards the drive so I wandered to the back porch and into the little house.

I continued to explore, found a pretty little bud vase and a bird for me and a rooster for the sake of memory of mama. I held my little things close to my chest and went to pay.  Her eyes met mine and I said, “I hope you’re doing well and I apologize if I overwhelmed you when I saw you.” She said, “That’s okay.” Nothing more.  I added, always the one trying to fix the messes I make, to undo the damage, “We were in the mountains and I was so close to your antique shop; but, couldn’t find time to come.” Again, no reaction really, just another nod.

Finally, I said what I should have said in the beginning and maybe again as I left with a simple goodbye.

“It’s so good to see you again. I hope you are doing well.”

My happiness over seeing her came from a place of recalling our connection, of remembering her sincerity and kind, kind heart, although grieving.

Her seeing me changed the course of her day, turned back the clock, flipped the page to the time and the memory of loss.

And mine as well, to the night she talked and I listened.

To her story of a sorrow I dont know, haven’t felt, only have heard.

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.

Proverbs 14:10

It was so good to see her, I hope she is doing well.


Far better things ahead – an editorial on hope

courage, Uncategorized, Vulnerability

I was late in sending this editorial to the paper.  I’m sharing here because life intersects work and the work I do causes me to reflect.

And I know its Friday night and there’s football and festival tomorrow. So, not to be serious to the point of being avoided.

Just serious enough to say….if you know someone who has lost all hope, just stay close, ask important questions and remind them to hope for the far better things ahead than what they’d be leaving behind…and if they don’t believe you…hang in there until you both see the hope you waited for, held on for.FB_IMG_1444441760771_kindlephoto-7926424

I’d like for you to know that I know very little really about suicide.

But, the one thing I know is that the one who chooses suicide is choosing out of hopelessness, this is the only consistent thing I have seen and heard, the loss of hope. Here are my thoughts, efforts to help others understand.

A Walk for Hope

On Sunday afternoon, I’ll go for a walk at O’Dell Weeks.  I’ll be joined by members of the Board of Directors of MHA Aiken County along with Coalition for Suicide Prevention colleagues who have joined in a commitment to prevent suicides, increase awareness and support. Most importantly, I’ll be greeted with hugs, smiles and tears from many cherished friends.  Since 2011, I have become friends with many people who have bravely and brokenly shared their story of the person they loved, still love who decided suicide was the answer to the question they were burdened, completely overwhelmed by.  In my professional lifetime, I’ve encountered many tough realities of life. The grief following suicide is unique, complicated and impactful.

Yesterday, within just an hour or so, I took two phone calls.  The first, the father of a 17 year old daughter, who said to me “There’s no way you can know what I’m going through.”  So, I listened for almost a half hour to the distress of a father not wanting to give up on his child, yet feeling there was little hope. I was able to make referrals and follow up that the connection was made for what may be her turning point, his hope for his daughter.  About another half hour later, a wife called.  Her husband, a 53 year old man, unable to work, living on disability and in her words “tired of being a burden” to his family had mentioned to her that he “needed to talk to someone.”  I listened as she shared the series of events that led to her 53 year old husband being physically disabled and now emotional and mentally in a place of hopelessness.  I asked her the hard question; the one that must be asked, “Has he talked about suicide?”  She answered calmly that he has.  I made recommendations for immediate steps, put some referrals in place and as with the father earlier asked that they call me back to let me know how things are going, what else I might be able to help with.  Both callers thanked me for my time, for listening, for giving them something to hope might bring a change. These type calls happen regularly and illicit an intentional response because the details of hopelessness are markedly similar to stories I’ve heard before. They are like the stories of the Survivors of Suicide Loss shared in our monthly group as they recall the time before the death of their loved one; circumstances are unraveled and pondered in an effort to understand.

Later in the day, I saw a quote on someone’s Facebook page, a C.S. Lewis quote.  I thought of the callers, of the people they loved and of the condition of hopelessness.  C.S. Lewis reminds, assures, and beckons us to believe “There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.” I thought of all who will walk on Sunday and their longing for the chance to say to the one they loved, “Be hopeful. This is temporary.  There are better things ahead. Don’t leave us behind.”

I walk for and with the brave survivors who would say to each of us “Remind those you love of hope over the hopelessness of what they see as an insurmountable circumstance”. I am walking for hope on Sunday.  Join me if you will.


TMI – knowing too much

courage, Faith, Motherhood, Trust, Uncategorized, Vulnerability
Trusting without knowing

Trusting without knowing

I’m pretty sure I was rude twice yesterday.  A discussion was going on with a committee at a table across the room.  Someone said,  “I bet Lisa knows.”  I quickly spoke up and said, pretending to be not so serious,   “Of course, I do. People think I know everything.”  A friend’s face turned towards me as if to say,  “Got the message loud and clear, stop asking Lisa to have all the answers.”  Said friend is a board member and knows firsthand the variety of rather serious requests and issues I tackle. He’s a huge support. Still, his look said it all. I was rude.

Lately, though, there are so many things I just don’t know.  Things I thought would be clear, that are causing me to wait, requiring me to see my quite minimal role in the big picture of outcomes. The ones close to home and to heart, my children.  Things I thought would line up, using an “if this… then, this approach.”  What I’m realizing in this time of faith testing is just how little I do know…a lesson in humility and a reminder of my role in God’s plan, to trust.

I was able to answer the question. I did, in fact have the answer and since I was among friends, I hope only minimal damage was done. I apologized. The topic was suicide, all questions are hard.

After awhile, you just need a break from the hard questions. The not knowing and not being able to know is exhausting. After all, I’m not a Survivor of Suicide Loss, I just know people who are.  They are truly left not knowing, imagine their struggle, their fatigue.

I’ve met people who have told me their gut wrenching stories and so, yes, I do have insight on the subject.  That insight, those stories have taken up residence in my mind and so I notice, I contemplate, I filter circumstances and demeanor of friends and family through the chronicles of survivor’s stories. I look too closely sometimes, putting too much pressure on myself, probably those around me.

When it comes to suicide, people say things they shouldn’t.

People don’t say things they should.  

Still I know the checklist of signs, the right questions to ask are stored in my mind and far too often, I’m stuck in the quick sand of thinking, analyzing, researching.

What if this happens in my life?

What does this mood mean?  Will this disappointment lead to hopelessness? Will someone I love be so lost and alone or so in fear of what might be or what can’t be that they decide to take their life?

This is when knowledge is too much, too much knowing, not enough trusting. This is when God reminds me who He is and I am once again enveloped in the wings of His grace, His mercy, His knowledge….such knowledge is too much for me!

When I know too much, have too much expertise,  I forget who God is.  When what I understand overshadows what God already knows I’m nothing but perplexed. My knowledge is too much. It is useless and damaging, almost suffocating.  It is then I am lost and hopeless. Then, that I have positioned myself as all-knowing instead of knowing the one who knows all. It is then, I am reminded to return and rest…to be me, quiet and confident. (Isaiah 30:15)

Tomorrow, I will say a few words to welcome a group of Survivors of Suicide loss at our Out of the Darkness Walk.   I will simply remind them that I care.