“I had many mixed emotions and didn’t really know how to respond to his death,” she says. After talking to a friend who was also a suicide loss survivor, Adrienne learned about Samaritans’ SafePlace meetings, which provide a forum for discussion among loss survivors to explore feelings often not understood by others. A native of Cambridge, Adrienne worked up her courage to attend the Medford SafePlace meeting.
“SafePlace became a great source of comfort and healing for me. As I got more comfortable, I started talking more and it really helped me grieve. During my time attending the meetings, I learned that one simply doesn’t move on, but that we learn different techniques and ways to help us cope. It also really helped me understand how to be gentle with yourself as you heal. The other SafePlace attendees were, and still are, a great support system. It is a good feeling to know I’m not alone in dealing with his death.”
After finding a community at SafePlace who understood the emotions she was feeling, Adrienne decided to become more involved with Samaritans by creating a team in her Uncle Tom’s memory for the annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention. “It’s my way of honoring his memory in a positive way. It makes me feel good that I can raise money and awareness for a great cause that is so near and dear to my heart.”
Adrienne’s team name is an homage to her uncle’s love for the Boston Celtics and old Boston Garden, whose capacity was 13,909 when originally built. Team 13909 will be participating this year for the second time, and the team hopes to build community with other survivors during the event. Adrienne remarks, “Suicide loss survivors are affected in different ways and need to come together to heal and keep their loved ones’ memories alive. For me, the 5K provides a system of support. Although sad moments do happen occasionally before, during, and after the walk, it’s good to come together with other families who know the feeling of losing a loved one to suicide.”
Adrienne’s community-building doesn’t just happen on the big day, though. As she raises funds for Team 13909, she is regaled with stories about her uncle. “Whenever I share a photo of my Uncle Tom on social media, our family and his friends often comment about him or a certain memory they shared together as children or adults! It keeps his story alive. For that reason, I will always continue walking in my Uncle Tom’s name.”