What is the cost of saying, "I love you?" How much are you willing to sacrifice for the person you love? Love has no monetary value, but it costs everything! When you love intentionally, it requires time, patience, understanding, forgiveness...the list goes on and on.
Love is one of the most valuable resources that we have. Love can take on any shape and/or form. Love can be in our words and our actions. Love is doing, being. Love may not be the cure-for-all but it's a great start. Can you love a stranger? Absolutely! Love can be something as simple as giving a hungry person a few bucks for a hot meal or giving a genuine compliment to a passerby. You will never know how your one love action will impact another. Have you ever just had a person on your mind? Reach out...even if it's been years. A simple message can go a long way.
One MAJOR thing love requires is your attention.
Loving a person through their troubles, however, isn't an easy task. 2019 is in full swing, the hustle and bustle of the winter holidays are fully over, and people are back into their regular routine. But what about those that just can't quite get back to their version of normal? Holidays are stressful enough when you have family; just imagine spending the most joyous time of year alone. Depression and anxiety are real. Suicide is at an all-time high, and it crosses all financial brackets. Think about the celebrities we have lost, like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade; they had the fortune, the fame, and seemed to be happy but they decided that suicide was their only option. We have mothers, fathers, friends, our children that take their lives and then we are left wondering, "What could I have done differently?"
So if you love someone, what can you do? You can pay attention to the warning signs. When our loved ones cry out, we should respond. Let's not chalk it up to dramatics. There may be subtle changes in behavior, attitude, and personality that may warrant a conversation and some of your time and understanding.
There will be times that love just isn't enough. We can do all that is humanly possible and still not know what is going on with a person mentally. There will be no warning signs, no cries for help. They will hold it all in until one day they just can't take it anymore. It can be a trigger - something tragic happens, a date quickly approaching that they don't know how to cope with, a medical trauma that alters their life completely, or just feelings of being inadequate, unloved, or alone. There also could have an undiagnosed condition, like in Robin Williams' case. He was dealing with early onset dementia and he wasn't even aware he had it.
How do we help those we love? Be intentional. Pick up the phone and have a conversation, freely give out hugs, knock on the door when the calls and texts go unanswered, take them to lunch, and ask the important questions. One simple way to start is the all too common, "How are you" that we usually ask in passing and get a one-word answer. Make them elaborate. Ask how they are in a way that requires a real response. Give someone your undivided attention. When you don't know the right words to say, give out a book, pass along the contact information to someone that has been there, done that. When words don't come easy, just listen.
There is a saying I've been seeing on social media, "Check on your strong friends." I say check on all your friends! Make it an effort to check on at least one person a day. Now wouldn't that make for a great challenge for the rest of 2019...
If you or a loved one are in a situation that warrants immediate help, here are some resources for you:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
The Trevor Project. 1-866-488-7386 or text “TREVOR” to 1-202-304-1200 (available M-F from 3PM to 10PM Eastern Time
Crisis Text Line. Text START to 741741
Not OK App. A free “digital panic button” created by teens to reach out to trusted contacts.
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1, or text 838255, or TTY 1-800-799-4889
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
National Hopeline Network: 800-442-HOPE (4673)