I Came, I Saw, I Healed

Author: Shanette Booker

This year was my first time attending the TAPS Suicide Survivor Seminar, and it is an experience like no other. I found that in the midst of being surrounded by so many that I am not a lone survivor...that my story of survival is not the only one. It was so nice to meet so many surviving friends and family members of our loved ones, which to me was step one to healing and coping.

Remembering Our Heroes

I came to San Diego with an open mind, because I had never attended a TAPS event of that magnitude only for Suicide Survivors. I am so glad that I kept my mind and my heart open. It was a real eye opening experience for me. I attended different groups and learned so much about healing, coping, and personal strength. These things I myself already possessed, but learned that I had tons more potential inside of me to make better use of those skills. I found that by telling my story I am not just helping others with their healing but with my own healing as well. It really is one thing to type the words or write them down and have someone read it…but to be able to verbally share your story with others. It was invigorating, inspirational, and so freeing. As sad and hard as it was to tell my story to others, the love and comfort and the friendships made as we bonded made it that much more special and that much easier to share.

For once I felt normal; I didn’t feel as though Dre’s death was being looked at in a questionable manner anymore, I was no longer “A Zebra in a herd of horses” but instead a Zebra in her own herd of Zebras. The looks of love, the stories of survival, and the bonds made that will last lifetimes were perfect. At one point I looked at death as just that death and didn’t know that with each death there is a story and that story is what connects us, what bonds and ties us together.  I saw that it wasn’t that I lost my husband or that a brother lost his sister, or that a parent loss their child, the point was we all lost someone and we all needed comfort and healing…and we all found it in San Diego in one way or another. 

I do not do well with one-on-one “pow-wows,” so to attend a group event like the Suicide Seminar was simply amazing. I was able to heal some open wounds and help others see how to heal their own wounds as well. The training to be a TAPS Mentor gave me deeper appreciation for the TAPS staff and all of its volunteers. You never really know how amazing something is until you become a part of it and see firsthand the kind of impact you have on others and their healing.