If you don’t know my story I have experienced suicide twice in my life in 2015 with the death of my wife Brandy Zink and in 2017 with the death of my father Dr. Barrett Zink. Nothing I had ever experienced in my life would prepare me for what has happened and I am not sure if anything ever would have. I hope that my experiences that I share help others to find tools and ways to heal if this happens in your life. It does change your life and your view of it along with what loss is really about. It does not have to be a negative view filled with questions that never are answered and constantly asking why didn't they tell me or talk to me, doubts filling your head. It is an event that brings out many emotions and can tear families apart or bring them closer together. I hope for anyone that it brings a family closer and stronger together.
When I lost my wife we were currently separated and both of us were not in a good place mentally, addiction had taken its toll on both of us. After my wife hospitalization from drinking, I realized I was enabling the problem because I myself had the same problem with alcohol. I was more functioning being able to keep a very well paying job but home life was in shambles. I had a tough decision to make with us separating hoping that we both could get better on our own instead of feeding off each other. Unfortunately, in August 2015 she took her life as a way out and it totally rocked my world. Reading her letters that she had left behind had closure in them, she did not want to hurt anyone but was in return hurting inside and she wanted it to stop. She felt everything was better off with her gone which was not the case I know from personal experience we do not want to lose anyone close in our lives. In my healing, I had to respect how she felt without any resentment, you can not hold resentment towards anyone for the actions they take.
Click here to see our Dr1ven by a Cause Suicide Awareness line.
Your Story Isn’t Over Yet!
During this time my Family and girlfriend now current wife were an amazing support. It has always been hard to share my feelings and that alone was a struggle, it's alright to let the emotions flow. I found it to be a lot of anger and sadness but that is ok, they are emotions and you need to learn to be comfortable with them, sharing with your family and having the support together is so important. You can’t hold it in or it builds into resentment like I mentioned and you have to remember they were suffering also, yet it was silently. Don't be afraid to be vocal about how you feel this allows others to be aware and also aware of what you are going through. Their suffering is the same as many with cancer, addiction or diabetes. You can’t see it but it is inside them, never forget what just a couple of kind words can do for the stranger next to you because you never know what they are going through. One of the tools I found that can help you heal is realizing it wasn’t your fault for their actions. That the pain they were going through often isn't shared because most don’t share their feelings of suicide or depression to close friends or family, they already feel as a letdown and burden. They are more open to sharing with those not as close to them, this is something I have learned from experience.
Family support like I mentioned is everything and close friends are the same as family, don't forget that. Make sure you are available to each other to talk because during the grieving you need to a lot and I mean a lot. Talking helps keep those emotions flowing and also lets the healing slowly begin. The questions may never be answered but that doesn’t mean to hold on to them, suicide does not always have closure for those left behind. You're not alone in this is an important concept to remember, never stop sharing with your friends and family. Faith and meditation help also and I found this to be very helpful for myself personally. Remember that they are in a better place and the suffering they felt has stopped, the pain is gone and you have to remember the good times without letting doubt set in. You will make it through this and it will make you stronger, use that to help others and in return, it helps you heal in a way also.
In August of 2017, I was met with another tragedy, my dad. He was a doctor in Michigan for over 30 years and well respected but in the end, took his life. This was devastating to me not only that he took his life but he was my biggest support for the first time this happened. Never miss a moment with your family is the biggest thing I can stress because you never know when the last time will be. With the passing of my dad, I found out again the importance of how much talking about it and family support is. I also found how important my sobriety was during this time so that I could have a clear head and be able to focus on what needed to be done. I found writing lists to keep myself focused on daily tasks helped my mind not drift and it made the days pass a little easier. I put a charm in with my dad and wear my necklace on the days I think of him and remember the good times. I found it is so important to not forget and remember the good times because, in the end, that is all we have are our memories.
Click here for more information on project semicolon, we are a huge supporter of this program.
Tools of healing:
One of the things I did is realize my motivation to bring awareness to this silent killer and help erase the stigma around suicide and mental illness. I got a tattoo on my arm that’s the semicolon standing for when something could have ended it did not and instead continued on. Around that “Your Story Isn’t Over Yet” meaning continue on in life and it has become a powerful tool in talking to others and bringing awareness along with healing. When asked what it is, I am proud to tell others and spark up a conversation that has the potential to save someone's life.
Click here to see our Dr1ven by a Cause Suicide Awareness line.
I also used this as motivation to start speaking and talking with others about the seriousness of mental illness. Giving others an outlet they can go to when they are suffering inside. I created this company with that in mind because of my drive to now helping others who suffer silently be able to speak, be heard and listened to. Listening is the greatest gift we have been giving and like I mentioned above listening to those suffering can do so much. You would be surprised what your voice on social media and other outlets can do for helping spark conversation around this and for others to speak up
Click here for the journal I use personally to help write down my thoughts, it was especially helpful during my time of grieving.
This is just some of what I have learned so far on my journey of recovery and healing through what I have experienced. I hope that if you are suffering you speak to those around you about it because it will not make us look any differently about you and we try our best to help you. If you have experienced this in your life my prayers go out to you. I hope maybe one of the tools I have mentioned will help you along the road to healing. I would love to hear from anyone who has tools that they have used to help overcome some of the challenges left behind by the loss of a friend or family member. Please share with us because you never know what words will speak to someone and help them in return!