The Power of Purpose

10 Stories for 10 Years

Life can feel meaningless after losing a loved one. Channeling pain into purpose can help bring that meaning back.

When “Mary,” a 45-year-old Caucasian mother living in the Northeast, lost her 18-year-old son to suicide, her world shattered. Three years later, living in heartbreak, she disclosed to a friend that she was having suicidal thoughts, including her desire to take a large dose of medication. Mary’s friend helped connect her to a clinician who was CAMS Trained™ and equipped to utilize the CAMS Framework®. Through the CAMS Assessment®, Mary shared her pain over the death of her son. Yet, it paled in comparison to her thoughts about the amount of pain he was in when he was here — her main driver of suicide.

Mary identified reading and exercising as things she could do when she thought about suicide. Her friend helped manage her depression medication, keeping no more than a week’s supply with her at all times. She engaged in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to begin processing her grief. She also engaged in Behavioral Activation, taking control of her own narrative by engaging in healthy and productive activities. Her clinician helped Mary realize that her relationship with her son was changed forever, and even though it was different now, surviving his death gave meaning and purpose to her pain. Accepting this was her permission to begin to pick up the pieces, resolving her suicidality by using other forms of coping and continuing to process her grief.

The piece that most significantly contributed to Mary’s healing was finding meaning in loss. She felt motivated to help others in similar situations and became an incredible advocate to save lives. Once a recipient of this care, Mary now contributes to suicide prevention programs in school and funding suicide-focused treatment through a local clinic. Her actions speak volumes toward her love for her son — and herself — every day.