The past few weeks, I began to question what I was doing with The Chip Terry Fund. Honestly, September was an emotionally draining month with several speaking events, the seminar and the anniversary of Chip’s death. I felt like I was done for a while but, I received a phone call from a fire chief in Ohio offering me a spot in the IAFF Peer Support Training Class. I happened to be off those 2 days so I accepted. Driving to Sycamore Township, I wondered what in the world was I doing. I was not a first responder and could have spent my time doing a dozen other things. Upon arrival, I grabbed a seat in the back next to 2 fire fighters from Kettering. I was running late and really did not have time for an introduction. An hour or so in to the class, we were supposed to do a role play activity. I told my partners that I would just observe, explaining that I was a spouse and that my husband, a career fire fighter had committed suicide after a 26-year career. I did not even mention his name. They were very respectful and kind and the morning flew by. After lunch, I sat outside to check my messages and one of the fire fighters, Duane came out and asked if he could speak to me. This man explained, through his grief, that he lost his young, adult son to suicide as well. He was struggling with survivor’s guilt. He went on to explain that he attended a training seminar during which he heard of Chip’s story and how through the story, he recognized that he needed help. He proceeded to thank me for sharing and using our tragedy to help others. We both teared up and had a moment of silence. You see, you cannot explain the depth of sadness that is left after a loved one commits suicide. All you can do is be present in the moment, recognizing that words cannot express the intensity of each other’s grief.
I know that God put me there for a reason. That Duane, by sharing his story gave me the strength to renew my commitment to our first responders and recognize that despite the difficulties, sharing Chip’s story is helping. As I heard last week from a very wise and dedicated Chaplain, sometimes, all we have to share is our humanity and sometimes that is enough.