For those that might not know me, I am Reverend David Clifford, the senior minister of First Christian Church here in Henderson. I have been volunteering with Cindy since first hearing about Infinite Hope and the encouraging and much-needed work she and this organization is doing. Cindy had asked that I speak at the Remembrance Event this year.
Remembering a loved one to suicide is both a deeply sensitive and painful subject. Unfortunately, it is an ever-increasing subject as we have seen more and more suicides occurring. As testified by each of you present here today, such deaths touch the lives of countless individuals, families, and communities.
But in the midst of such darkness and chaos is the power and healing…the power of hope that we can share together.
When we lose someone to suicide, the pain and grief is unlike anything else we might experience—it’s unimaginable to those that have not been through such tragic loss. We can be left with questions that may never receive answers, guilt that may never subside, and a void that may be impossible to fill.
Yet, I believe, hope remains (even the tiniest) beacon of light in such darkened hours.
Hope is the belief that, even in the face of overwhelming despair, there is a chance for healing, for recovery, and for growth. It is the understanding that no matter how deep the wounds might be, mending is possible, and hearts can find solace.
For those in the midst of such pain and grief, hope can come in many forms. It can be the support of friends and family, the comforting words of a counselor, or the shared stories of others who have walked this painful path. Hope can also be the advocacy for mental health awareness and support systems that can prevent others from suffering the same fate. Hope can be the determination to end the stigma that is too often associated with mental health and suicide. Hope can be us talking about things the world seems unsure of how to talk about. Hope can be us showing up to remember loved ones on days just like today.
The reality of hope is that it is deeply communal. Our society has become too complacent in throwing away and replacing things that stop working. When a flashlight grows dim or quits working, you don’t throw it away. You simply change the batteries.
When a person struggles and finds themselves in a dark place, we do not cast them aside. We must find the ways and the communities that allow us to change their batteries!
This is the type of community we are building right here.
Some of us gathered need fresh batteries. Some of us need double As…attention and affection. Some need triple As…attention, affection, and acceptance. Some need Cs…compassion. Some Ds…direction. Some may be candles that have burned out and simply need the warmth and light from a fellow neighbor.
Whatever your need, I pray this community may help you take one more step in the process of seeking hope.
We must remember that suicide is not a choice made out of selfishness or weakness; it is often the result of a battle within the mind that becomes too overwhelming. Our hope extends to understanding and empathy for the loved ones we’ve lost…our hope extends as we break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues…our hope extends as we gather to create a society where seeking help is not a sign of weakness but, is instead, an act of courage.
In our darkest moments, hope may seem distant and unattainable, but it’s important to remember that even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise. Healing may be a long and difficult journey, but it is possible.
The memories we share here today, I pray, can be a source of strength for each of you seeking hope. May the lives we remember here serve as a reminder of the value of compassion, kindness, and support within our families and communities.
This hope is not an abstract concept. It is a force that can bring about positive change in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Such hope is a force that can help us find meaning in the midst of pain and grief. Such hope can turn our pain into a catalyst for advocating for a world where fewer people have to suffer as our loved ones did.
As we gather here today, let us remember our loved ones through such hope. Let us remember them with love and compassion. Let us work tirelessly to create a world where the darkness of suicide loses its grip on our communities. Together, we are a community of such hope. We are beacons of hope for each other and for those around us, guiding one another through the darkest of nights into the promise of a new dawn.
May this hope we create and seek truly be infinite.