I attended the Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention two weekends in a row. The first one was in Erie Pennsylvania. Last weekend was in Cincinnati, Ohio. These were both very emotional for my family and I. The walk in Cincinnati was very overwhelming for me. There are times that I am not sure how I am supposed to feel. I have feelings of guilt because I feel so overwhelmed with grief that I cannot move, and I feel like I should not be feeling this way, only her parents should. I struggle to talk to anyone regarding my feelings about the loss of my niece, I don’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable, bad or look at me like I don’t have a right to these feelings. I need to allow myself to feel however I feel, and not be ashamed or feel guilty about this. My thoughts are always with my brother and his wife over losing their child, and not being able to do anything to help them or to alleviate some of their pain. Spending time with my family this weekend was amazing and talking about Ciarra and our feelings about her and the loss of her. The walk in Cincinnati brought the pain right back to the forefront and as my mom said “it was like saying goodbye to her all over again”. I have been asked if it is ‘good’ or healthy for me to go to these walks, and I said I cannot answer that right now. Well a few days later I can answer that and I think that I need to do this. I need to do anything I can to raise awareness and help to support prevention programs for suicide. There were over 2,000 people at the walk in Cincinnati, which is overwhelming in and of itself. There were many different shirts and signs with peoples names and pictures of their loved ones that they lost to suicide. Before the walk you could make a bag with a message to your loved one or a general message if you wanted. As we concluded the walk these bags were made into luminaries and you walked through them as you ended the walk. Well these stretched on and on and on……and my thoughts were oh my goodness there are WAY too many bags here, too many names, too many lives lost to suicide. My family has dealt with this but seeing all of these people that are also dealing with it took my breath away and I could not breathe. There was a sense of “I am not alone in dealing with this tragedy that has affected my family” and then the feeling of I wish I was alone in dealing with this as no one should have to do it, here were thousands of people dealing with it. I have really struggled the past couple of days with keeping my emotions in check. When my family left on Monday my heart was very heavy and I was angry, I AM SICK OF MISSING PEOPLE!!! I really had to work hard to get out of my own head and to be able to go to work, but the question in my mind was what’s next? My family continues to have so much support it is amazing! I will continue to work to helping others, making others aware, working with others to let them know IT IS OK TO TALK ABOUT SUICIDE. There is such a stigma surrounding suicide and this needs to change. I know these are a bunch of rambling thoughts, but they have been raw the past few days. In talking to my brother today he has the same concerns as I do about people forgetting about Ciarra, when is our support system going to get tired of listening, tired of helping? We as a family will continue to survive and I know some days will be easier than others. We have to allow ourselves to grieve, be happy, be sad, be angry, be lonely, be overwhelmed, be alone, be with others, everything that we are, we need to allow to happen. I love you Ciarra Joi and you have touched peoples lives in ways that you never even knew, and you continue to do so. You will NEVER be forgotten!!