Every year I sit back and watch while the people around me get sadder and sadder during the holidays. Every year I understand why they're doing so and every year my heart breaks for them. I always try to help the ones who are nearest to me and talk to those I know who aren't so close on the phone. The holidays for me are a wonderful time but to many they hold memories that hurt so much to remember (good and bad). They slowly withdrawal from their family and friends, they slowly begin to stay in their houses and beds more, and cry more often ... for those that drink their drinking begins to grow and grow.
By now many of you realize that I'm talking about holiday related depression. Many of us know someone, or maybe several someones, who've lost someone dear to them. The holidays now seem so hard to enjoy without that person around, and you can see them slowly sinking into themselves. They don't do this on purpose, nor do they do it to hurt you, this happens because they are sad. Not just sad, they're physically and emotionally in pain from their loss and the holidays have magnified what they usually feel every day. What is normally if not easily handled, that is normally handled with some form of being able to move through their days at a normal pace, suddenly turns into a mountain of weight that feels like it's going to crush them. These feelings (at such a deep level) are causing them to go into depression. Many people get through this time of year even with the depression, some don't ... some don't live to see the new year.
This is a very real problem and one that we can all help with. Spend some time with that friend of yours who recently lost a family member and seems to dread the coming of the holidays. Call those you know who live farther away and talk to them, keep calling and checking on them, let them know that you care and that you're there to listen. Take that widow or widower down the street a plate of goodies, some hot chocolate, a blanket, or just your shoulder to cry on. You don't need to be there every day, unless you feel like you should be, but it's the little things that can make every difference to someone who is hurting during the holidays. Fill a basket from the dollar store with some soup mixes (or cans), some hot chocolate mixes or tea, add in a pair of gloves or a scarf, a note with your number and a free invitation to call anytime, or simply a Christmas card. Invite one of them to Thanksgiving dinner or bring them over a plate.
And don't stop when Christmas is finished, the hard truth of the matter is that most people don't commit suicide during the actual holiday season. The spike happens right after New Years. This is generally felt to be because those who are depressed and hurting already don't want to spread that hurt to others by doing so during the holidays and if they're thinking seriously about doing it then it'll happen after the New Years. Spend time with them until you either no longer can, or until you feel that they are "coming out of it" again. You could make the difference this year. Your shoulder, your ear, your smile, your KINDNESS could save someone.
John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
In 2010 38,364 suicides were reported in the United States alone. That made suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans that year. In 2010 someone in America died every 13.7 minutes by committing suicide.
If you know someone who needs help, or you yourself need help, there is help out there. If nothing else pass on one of these numbers:
1-800-784-2433 (National Hopeline Network)
1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Helpline)
1-800-799-4TTY (Hearing and Speech Impaired)
and for our Canadian friends
905-522-1477 (collect calls are accepted)
** Two dear friends of mine helped me in proof-reading this post and finding the Bible quote (there were many other good quotes suggested as well). Without their help this post would have been a mess. As I wrote this I was upset and so it was hardly readable. Many thanks and blessings upon them. They know who they are :-) . Any mistakes left in this post are entirely my own and probably from ignoring their wonderful advice.**