It's ok not to be ok...
This past Thursday, I am able to have a conversation or two with two of my friends who are fraternal brothers of mine. As always, it is good to talk with, listen to, share, and exchange in order to have as engaging a conversation as possible.
However, the topic of discussion is one that is very challenging, as one of our friends and fellow brothers feels the need to depart from this life. Any time this happens, there's a wide range of questions, thoughts, and other things taking place.
Why? How? What could I do in order to prevent this from happening?
These are a few of the questions that are asked from different points of reference. For one, it is beyond difficult as they attend college together and their bond originates from their college days. For the other, he recalls when he is visiting his alma mater one fall and is able to lend support when he brings his elementary and middle school aged young men for a college visit; in fact, he points to his efforts as a reason why he continues to work with students in elementary school.
For me, it's a challenge as given our community work with our respective nonprofits, we are able to speak with each other's organizations, as well as lend encouragement for the need to invest in the lives of those in our communities.
Again, it makes you wonder. It isn't until a conversation with a college friend to where more insight happens. Where others would call such actions as selfish and where they are giving up, sometimes, it takes on a different mindset. If anything, when people decide to go over the edge, in their minds, they feel it is their only option and they do not want others to deal with the challenges of helping them work with them through their challenges. They figure there's no other option available; given their profession, or their community stature, degrees, and what have you, they do not have the luxury of having challenges and stressors of a certain kind; in other words, they can't afford to not be ok.
And this is where we have to do better.
We have to take seriously what can happen when stress goes unchecked. We have to understand that even the strongest of us have our moments. I recall reading where counselors seek support from fellow counselors, or psychiatrists seek help from their peers.
In other words, it's ok not to be ok. We all have our moments. Whether or not it is just stress or something worse, we have to be open to talking with a trusted person or two; by the same token, while in general there are things we may not fully understand, we have to understand that people simply want you to get a point of reference. It's not about fully agreeing, but it's about listening to what people are going through to the best of our ability, and then formally or informally, directing them to getting the help they need and letting them know they are not less than because they are going through a struggle or two.
Again, it's ok not to be ok. What is not ok is feeling you have to suffer in silence and in fear of what others think due to some flawed and false narratives, let alone some topics are ones you don't want to talk about or are not talked about in certain audiences or demographics. Being still and knowing is more than just something to recite from scripture; it's about when they talk, you listen, and when you talk, they listen so you better understand what is taking place and what needs to be done.
For those trying to wrap their heads and hearts around incidences of this kind, we can always second-guess ourselves and wonder what else we could do. If anything, value the fact you did what you could based on what you know as fully as possible, and know that if anything, this is more of a call to see what we can do better.
And again, it's ok not to be ok.