Last weekend my family heard the tragic news that someone in our small town of Maryhill took their own life. The young man was a former elementary school friend of my eldest brother - just twenty-six years young. Although it has almost been two years since we moved, with spending almost 20 years in the same spot, growing up and getting to know our neighbours, this really hit home. I know the community as a whole is mourning and my deepest sympathies go out to his entire family.
Not a single phone call that has passed between my brother and I this week (and we talk usually a few times a day), hasn’t included something about this. He attended the visitation and the funeral, so it was on all of our minds this week. When someone you know takes their own life, especially at such a young age, you begin to question many things within your own life and evaluate if you are making the most of it. I know my brother mentioned he had great intentions of always reaching out to him and I know I always say the same thing about other friends I have lost contact with over the years. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragic incident to make you realize that life is very short.
Life can be difficult sometimes. We get into arguments with family and friends. We hold grudges for years over silly things. We sweat the small stuff. We get so caught up within our own little lives that we can forget about others, their struggles, or what else is happening around the world. When such a tragedy hits so close to home you tend to reflect on your own experiences. This week has taught me two things: everyone struggles, and not to take a single day for granted.
No matter how much it may appear that someone has their life together, we all have our struggles; some may be more evident than others, but no one is perfect. Expressing compassion and care for others and supporting them is something we can all improve upon. We get too caught up with texts and social media attention rather than stopping and actually taking care of those around us. We also cannot and should not compare our struggles. Just like those who have successes, each journey is different. I don’t compare my fitness journey to the next person and nor should I compare a struggle I might be experiencing up against someone else’s. Struggles do not define you. They may influence the person you are, but there can still be many areas of success that you can be proud of regardless of what else is going on.
My work schedule is hectic and I don’t always make the time to do things for me. As much as I love my job, I need to slow down, reach out to friendships that have recently been put on the back burner and have fun. There are days where we all need some down time to rest and recover but we should remember that some of the opportunities to spend with the ones we love might not come around again, so take advantage of it all.
Mental health is a real and living thing. It affects us all. Be kind to those around you and let the people you love know how much you care and support them. Never let a day go by where you can’t be proud of your accomplishments, where you go to sleep angry at someone else, or where you can’t say you did all that you wanted to do.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.