Suicide loss survivor part of “big, beautiful community” at Samaritans 5K

Grief Support Services volunteer Sue Dosenberg Kelly lost her brother, Greg, to suicide on December 20, 2002. Learn more about Sue’s story of her loss and struggles with her own depression by watching her presentation at This is My Brave Boston 2017: Today, Sue shares her experience in participating in the Samaritans 5K.

A collage of childhood photos of a brother and sisterWhen I was first approached by (Samaritans’ former Executive Director) Roberta Hurtig about participating in Samaritans’ Annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention, I didn’t think I was ready for that scale of an event. We were having yearly fundraisers called the Dosie Dance whose proceeds went to Samaritans. That felt like a safe amount of involvement for me at the time. Roberta was very patient and supportive, and kept dropping subtle suggestions my way about the 5K. After a few years, we decided to form “Dosie’s Team” to see how it felt.

I was blown away by our first 5K. I had been protecting myself from the greater community because I expected it to be this horribly painful and dark experience. I don’t know why that’s what I had imagined inside my brain, but I was so wrong. IT WAS SOUL FOOD. We were able to celebrate Greg’s memory and his big, bright, beautiful spirit while also acknowledging our loss, fighting back against stigma, and raising awareness. Seeing all of the teams that had formed for so many loved ones made my world feel so much warmer and made me feel less alone.

I had isolated myself in my grief, and I was convinced that nobody else could ever possibly understand my loss – how could they? But then, at the 5K, I was face-to-face with so many people who did understand, and my heart felt filled with hope for the first time in so long.

The 5K inspires me every single year. I leave the event feeling renewed and surrounded by love and support. I feel like a part of a big, beautiful community of souls who have turned their loss into a bit of magic. All of these people, together at once, walking or running in support of this fabulous organization to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with suicide contrasted with the reality that so many of us spent so many years afraid to talk about our experience and had felt so alone — pure magic!  Being a Samaritans volunteer has also really opened up the sense of home that I feel when I am at a Samaritans event; I feel so safe and supported around the staff and other volunteers, and to me, the 5K is a day to celebrate our loved ones and our journeys together.­

I would like to publicly thank every single one of my Facebook friends for all they do to lift me and Dosie’s Team each year when we participate in the 5K. People from all walks of my world donate to our team each year, offer fundraising venues or ideas, and send the most beautiful messages of encouragement and support. When you are lost in a battle with depression, or lost in a battle grieving your loss of a loved one to suicide, it can feel so hopeless and alone. I can even still find myself feeling that way, even after all these years. But having a community that sends out messages of love and support when I share our 5K links, or share a story about Greg or myself, is like a big, strong hand coming out of the darkness to pull me out into the sunshine. Every like, comment, and donation to our fundraising page is like a big hug of warmth and love that carries me through the hard times.

Help Sue reach her fundraising goal or register to walk/run on September 29!