Caring for our Family and Community

        Today, the sky is gray with anticipation of snow. The days have passed this year with no concern if any of us are here to enjoy it. We are bombarded with news 24/7, unsolicited phone calls, emails, news headlines, which in reality, are an assault on our day to day lives. How can we take care of ourselves when we are suffocated with political agenda and news in our own neighborhoods when tragedy unfolds? 
         Thinking back to 1863, the diary written by my great grandmother, at the age of 21, tells of 30 people that year in her little town of Westbrook, Maine who died. Some who died were old and a few were children, and one by suicide. How did she take care of herself?  She relied on family and stayed connected to people. Are things different today?
         Is there disconnect? Are we so preoccupied with our busy lives not to check in and see how the people we care about are doing? I am at a place in my life where I need to step back from the 24/7 news. In my own little community, there have been countless suicides, all young people. I think perhaps drugs have been a common denominator, and maybe disconnect with people. Many are born with brain conditions not caused by anything.The troubles may not surface until later in life, similar to a brain injury. Blame is not productive because it only lays groundwork for guilt. It is a toxic cycle. Sometimes, doing nothing for someone in trouble is the worst choice. It is difficult to stand by and watch someone you love self destruct before your eyes. Maybe we don’t know what to do or how we can help. We have two choices. Do nothing or react. Reach out to others because we sometimes do not have the expertise to help those we love without professional outside support. Those who can do this are not giving up on a loved one, but fortunate if their loved one can benefit from getting the help they need. Others are not as lucky as they are left to struggle with the suicide of their child. 
        As parents, we would move mountains for our kids, and also for our adult children if they were unable to care for themselves. That is what we do. In the end, we really have no control, so we might as well let that go. We can choose to learn to be reflective listeners, which means, NO advice, NO agenda. The brain is beautiful, complex, misunderstood, and many live in our communities with mental illness. Many are functioning and many are not doing so well. The willingness to listen to a friend, without casting judgment, without fear when you may not understand their crisis speaks volumes. There is a time to step back and take care of what happens within your own four walls. This month is significant because of Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. A little kindness, maybe a visit  or a note, a phone call, or just reaching out when others need it, is the human interaction people will always need. People have not changed. The way we choose to interact with others, choosing kindness, is what matters.

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