Walk With Us – In Community
I recently sat with a friend who was in pain. Not of the physical type that I could see, but instead their pain was on the inside. They were hurting in a way that I couldn’t understand.
Naturally, I wanted their pain to go away, as like most people, we don’t like to see people hurting. However, at the same time, it surprisingly felt somewhat comforting, to just to sit with my friend and share in this pain together. We were only there for a short time and not a lot was said. Thankfully, my friend soon ‘came good’.
There was nothing that I did to miraculously change things during this brief moment, but somehow as two friends sat side by side, with one expressing despair and discomfort, and the other allowing these things to sit between them, things got better.
We often want to immediately fix or eliminate problems in both our own and others’ lives because they make us feel uncomfortable. However, not all problems can be fixed, or at least not easily.
That’s one thing that we know well at Lifeline. Although it can seem counter intuitive, often the best way to support others is to be with them as they experience pain; as difficult as this can be. We don’t aim to fix and solve, people can usually do this for themselves, instead we support people by allowing them to feel and experience their pain, rather than avoid it.
Lifeline provides a safe place and space for this to happen and for people to be heard without judgement and with compassion. It was founded by a man whose friend died by suicide. He was determined not to let isolation and a lack of support be the cause of more deaths. One of the key things our team at Lifeline does well is to listen and sit with people, just as I did with my friend.
Allowing people to sit with their pain can be helpful, although not always easy. As tempting as we may find it to pull them out of the cause of their pain, sitting with them as they ‘wrestle’ with it can be part of the healing process.
It is the connection with others that is often the key to healing and support. As a society, we need to remember to view people socially and as part of a community rather than simply as individuals with problems to be solved. Instead, if our focus is to see others as ‘people to be met’, the pain and suffering that coincide with social isolation may be eased.
This is why at Lifeline we believe that being in community with others is important for our mental health. Addressing the tragedy of suicide in Australia is a social concern, not simply a medical or individual challenge.
The key to supporting those who are in crisis is embracing them as part of our community. We ought not exclude and isolate people but sit alongside them as they ‘wrestle’ with their challenges.
That’s why, Lifeline is organising a number of community Walks to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. On Monday, September 10, we’re inviting everyone in our local communities to walk together with us in support of those who have been affected by suicide.
There is no charge to attend the Walks, but we’re asking people to register which you can do at the following links:
Warrnambool (South West Victoria), see – https://www.stickytickets.com.au/73091/lifeline_south_west_vic_wspd_walk_2018.aspx
For those in other areas looking for a similar walk in your community, you can learn more about local works here – http://wspd.org.au/
Walking with us is something positive you can do to show those in our community who are struggling, or in crisis, or who have lost someone to suicide, that we care.
We can show them that while we may not be able to take away their pain, we are walking with them while they work through it.
As a community, our action and support may just change a life.
Robert Sams is Lifeline’s General Manager of Services, and is focused on supporting suicide safer communities. For more information see www.lifeline.org.au
If this article raises concerns for you, we encourage you to call Lifeline on 13 11 14