Recently, I enjoyed a weekend getaway with my husband. We wandered in and out of beach front shops, miles away from a military base. It was nice to have a chance to be together and enjoy the beach scenery.
My husband and I were surprised when a local shop owner shared a very personal story with us. After exchanging pleasantries, she asked if my husband was in the military (his haircut gives it away). She also inquired where he was stationed and how long we had been assigned to this location. Her daughter’s family recently moved away from this particular location.
She shared with us that her son-in-law, an Army veteran, committed suicide. He was being treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She was trying to grapple with her new feelings and offer support to her grieving daughter and grandchild.
After sharing our condolences, my husband and I both wanted to offer resources to help this anguished family. Before I rattled off a list of resources, I realized I need to step back and listen to the person speaking to me, respect what she was sharing with me, and share resources if she was agreeable to accepting information.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, here are some suggestions:
Listen: Really listen. Try to understand what the person is communicating. Try not to think of a solution or offer a resource right away.
Respect: Respect that the person feels safe enough to share this information with you. Understand your boundaries and your comfort level.
Share: Is the person able to receive information? Do you have resources available? If not, and you are comfortable, exchange contact information and ask a professional for help.
I am not a counselor. I am not a medical expert. But, I am an involved military spouse. I was thankful I had read recent articles about the Military Crisis Line and Veterans Crisis Line. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 support to those in crisis across the nation.