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How We're Bringing the 'Scattering CJ' Community Together This Holiday Season

For over 10 years, I have hated holidays. All of them. Holidays emphasize family, yet I no longer have the family I want to emphasize. That family, the one I loved with every fiber of my being, was decimated 127 months ago (yes, I’m counting). When you lose a loved one and that loved one’s death comes at their own hand… well, holidays suck.

I was not always like this. I was the “let’s put up the Christmas tree on November 1” kind of mom, because who doesn’t love a tree filled with colored lights and ornaments? The mom who woke her kids Christmas morning because Santa arrived and who has time to sleep? The parent who had more fun hiding the eggs than her kiddos ever did finding them.

Then my son ended his life, in a way that defies logic, in a manner that dictates nightmares, resulting in an emptiness darker than a million black holes. Everything seemed meaningless. Life became nearly impossible to live, making me hate happy people, cute puppies, smiling babies and joyous occasions of any sort. Hence, my hating holidays stance. 

Starting Scattering CJ in 2013 was a desperate attempt to give my amazing, larger than life son one last adventure. It would ensure he’d be remembered and it was the last “gift” I could give him. It was never meant to be anything other than what it was… a simple request by a grieving mother to honor the son she had lost.

That “gift” has become so much more. It’s literally and figuratively become a lifeline for me and for the countless others who have come together to create a community. The idea was mine alone, but Scattering CJ the journey is the result of many. It was born out of the kindness of strangers, people who offered so much in return for so little.

It’s both a call to action and a safe place to land. It’s joy and pain mixed together to form a foundation for healing. It’s the perfect storm of compassion and empathy offered up in a way that sparks conversation. It’s everything I hoped it would be blanketed in so much more than I ever imagined it could be.

It’s given me back a piece of my heart and a purpose to advocate and the strength to keep up the fight to raise awareness about suicide prevention. It’s become as important to me as the air I breathe and it’s a story that now belongs to each and every person connected to CJ’s journey.

It’s why I know without a shadow of a doubt that offering up this beautifully bittersweet documentary to screen free November 13-21 is the right thing to do. It’s also why I truly believe that virtually gathering on a global scale on November 21 will offer a sense of comfort for all of us who have either struggled with or been touched by mental illness or suicide. 

Holding this event on International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day, so close to Thanksgiving, is a very intentional choice. It will not only bond the Scattering CJ community together in a virtual embrace but, during this season of thankfulness, it will give this holiday hating Mom a reason to believe there’s hope for a brighter tomorrow. Not sure I believe in holiday miracles but if anything can change my broken heart, it’s the beauty that lies within the Scattering CJ journey. 

In recognition of Suicide Loss Survivor Day, join us on November 21 at 4 p.m. ET for “Stronger Together: A Scattering CJ Virtual Cinema Event.” Head here to tune in live on Facebook.

Image via Scattering CJ trailer

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