Home Page Tabs Title: Thoughts on the Upcoming National Suicide Survivor Seminar
Posted By: TAPS
Today on the TAPS blog, surviving mother Peggy Scallorn shares her thoughts about the upcoming National Suicide Survivor Seminar. Peggy writes, "I will be surrounded by those who are walking the same path of surviving a loved one's suicide. I feel comforted knowing I will not have to explain my situation to others because we are all there for the same loss."
As November approaches, so does the thought of attending the National Suicide Survivor Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am excited to see old friends and meet new ones, but I am anxious at the same time. I attended the TAPS National Seminar in May in Washington D.C. with my family. While I was thankful to be there, sometimes I felt as if I didn't belong. Hearing others share their story of how their child died did not compare to my own loss I had suffered. The majority of those attending Nationals were those who had suffered a loss of a loved one by illness, accident or who were killed in action (KIA).You see, my 18 year old son, active duty A1C Cody Scallorn, died by suicide on January 2, 2012 while home on leave from the USAF.
The stigma that attaches itself to suicide is relentless. As I walked through the doors of the hotel in D.C., everyone, from the staff to the attendees, welcomed me and hugs were plentiful. Even with the smiles that adorned many faces, I still felt isolated in my own grief. A small number of attendees were suicide survivors compared to the vast majority of those attending. The workshops that were held were wonderful because they provided opportunities to bond in smaller groups. I felt myself ease as I attended the suicide survivor group for parents. I was among strangers who felt like longtime friends because we shared the common bond of the suicide of our children.
I don't know what to expect going to this seminar in November, but I do know I will be surrounded by those who are walking the same path of surviving a loved one's suicide. I feel comforted knowing I will not have to explain my situation to others because we are all there for the same loss. For me, I have experienced suicide as the elephant in the room, or as many suicide survivors refer to themselves as the zebra in the herd. The awkward looks and the loss of words from others who just don't know how to respond to the words "died by suicide." I hope by attending this seminar I will learn additional coping skills and be able to continue my healing. Having this opportunity to solely be among other suicide survivors is empowering and I am so grateful to be able to attend.
I will also be attending the Peer Mentoring Training along with my husband while in Colorado. I am not sure what to expect in regards to this either, but I am hopeful that by becoming a peer mentor I will be able to extend my hand to others who are just starting their own grief journey. I have wanted nothing more than to help others since my son's suicide and have wanted to give back what TAPS has given to me. TAPS gave me hope. In the beginning of my loss, I didn't think that would ever be possible again.