What my Dad’s suicide taught me about the importance of kindness.

I never knew how much my dad meant to people until he died. The number of people who reached out to me and attended his funeral made me realise how much of an impact he’d made in his 56 years. Perhaps if my dad knew how much he meant to people, things might be different but I leave that thought to the many ‘what ifs’ associated with losing someone to suicide.

The one thing that I knew all too well about my Dad was he was a big joker. His desire to be the class clown and make people smile was one of my favourite qualities. His quick wit, uncanny impersonations, and annual Father Christmas appearances portrayed my dad to be a man full of life. A ‘no worries’ kind of guy. This was the side to my dad that everyone around him saw and one he wanted everyone to see. However, the side that people didn’t see was the sensitive one, the side that cared deeply for other’s feelings and what they thought of him (a trait I’ve inherited). The side of him that maybe a cruel joke or comment would actually hurt a lot more than some might think. 

We all have our struggles and down days. Sometimes there are times where our problems make us question the point of it all. However, even when we want to be authentic and show our true selves, it’s still hard to portray it without compromising the person we want to be seen as. This combined with the pressure of perfection that comes with social media is why I think it’s difficult to open up and be vulnerable and admit that sometimes we can feel defeated by this big ol’ journey called life.

As it marks almost 5 years since my dad took his own life, it gets me thinking about the importance of something that I think we all need a bit more of in our lives… Kindness.

While we may feel as though we’ve not got time to help others among our own problems, I know now to be more aware that everyone is likely to be dealing with their own too. As I’ve become more mindful into the way our actions will always have some form of a reaction, I think it’s so important for us all to live a little slower, become a little more present and take those 2 minutes out of our day to do something kind for someone else.

Whether it is holding a door for a stranger, asking a colleague about their day or just giving a compliment to a friend to let them know how amazing they are. It’s the littlest touches and thoughts that we remember and although we don’t always see the instant gratification of our good deeds, that one thoughtful gesture can make someone’s entire day, especially in the challenging times we are facing.

Now more than ever we need to be spreading kindness, a quote I read recently really sums the current challenges we are all facing…

“We may not be in the same boat, but we are in the same storm”

Here are a few ways to that you can spread kindness… (COVID friendly)

At home and in your community

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Send a letter to your nan and grandad
  • Send flowers to a friend out of the blue
  • Offer to pick up some groceries for your elderly neighbour
  • Send someone a handwritten thank you note
  • Walk your friend’s dog
  • Tell your family members how much you love and appreciate them
  • Help your mum with household chores
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time
  • Help a friend get active

At work

  • Get to know the new staff member
  • Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who is having a bad day
  • Say good morning
  • Give praise to your colleague for something they’ve done well

In public places

  • Be patient with people in the supermarket, it’s so easy to get frustrated especially now we need to be 2 metres apart. However, a little bit of patience, and a smile will go a long way.
  • Let a fellow driver merge into your lane
  • Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street (use gloves and hand sanitiser)
  • Smile and say hello to people you may pass every day, but have never spoken to before

It’s very easy in life to think you don’t have an impact but because of you, that cup of coffee you bought for a friend made that crap day they were having a little brighter. That book you recommended to a colleague has them spending every night getting lost in the pages of it. And that stranger you smiled at in the supermarket, perhaps that smile made them feel like they’re not invisible to everyone. Never underestimate the impact of the smallest acts of kindness in life, because you never really know when someone needs it most.

#Wordkindnessday2020

Laura xo

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