Out of the Darkness

There was no darkness today at Kensington Metropark.  It was a perfect early autumn day, a slight chill in the air mitigated nicely by the noon day sun.  We gathered at the East Boat Launch, about 250 of us, munched on donuts and coffee, listened to a live band play, and heard opening remarks from “Spike,” a local disc jockey (one known for his rather wild and off color morning show) who talked about his family’s experience with suicide.
Out of the Darkness is a fund raising event sponsored by the American Society for Suicide Prevention.  There’s a double meaning to this title – certainly “out of the darkness” refers to the mental reality of people who choose to take their own life, for there is obviously a bleak darkness to their lives which they feel cannot be adequately overcome. 
But an even larger aspect of this event (and this organization) is to relieve the stigma and secrecy associated with suicide, to bring this devastating occurrence “out of the darkness” so people in danger may feel freer to discuss their problems, perhaps preventing them from taking that final step into total darkness.  Not only were we raising money to fund suicide prevention programs in high schools and colleges, our walking put a physical presence on this tragedy, put family names and faces to what many people fear to acknowledge.
I was walking with a group of friends and family in honor of Jeff Druchniak, a young man I met in my days of accompanying high school students.  A brilliant man, a much loved son and older brother, his loss has cut deeply into the hearts of his parents, his brother, his large extended family, and his teachers and friends. 
So we came together on this perfect fall Sunday, the day after his younger brother Brian’s wedding, and shared our memories of Jeff as we walked.  There was some sadness, certainly, and lots of regret, for that is something no one who survives a loved one’s suicide can escape.  But there was more laughter than I thought, and lots of discussion about yesterday’s college games (which Jeff would have entered into lustily).  I think it helped us to be together, and to walk with others of all ages who had lived through the same horrific loss.
I’m glad I was able to be part of this event today…and I thank all those who supported it financially, and with their kind words.  I feel as if we all took some steps out of our own darkness today, and started walking toward a more hopeful future.

3 thoughts on “Out of the Darkness

  1. So much of everything that surrounds a suicide stays in the dark. In addition to the grief the surviving family and friends feel after a loved one’s suicide, they often suffer a terrible guilt as well: the unspoken belief that if they had only said or done something differently, their loved one might still be among them.

    It is good to hear of people talking about their experiences — bringing them to light — sharing memories, and working to prevent other devastating losses.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. But I’m glad you had sunshine and laughter yesterday.

  2. A wonderful way to spend the day. Talking and laughing with others who share the same loss heals the heart. I’m concerned for the son of a friend at this moment. He’s improving, but stressful times are always a concern for those who’ve been at risk. Encouraging post, Becca

  3. Dear Becca,

    I, too, was a dear friend of Jeff Druchniak’s. We lived together for two years in undergrad at a student housing co-op. I would very much like to meet with others who remember him. I live in Ann Arbor, and the anniversary of his death is something that is always very hard for me. Please let me know how I can contact others who knew him, including his family.

    Thank you,

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