Courage Can Move Us Forward

Guest Blog by Carrie Cullen

Carrie is a local family survivor of suicide.  Her passion and bravery can be seen through her blog on her website, where she writes about her experiences from a real, raw, and totally honest perspective.  She uses her voice not only to break down stigmas, but also to let others know they are not alone.

I have been thinking for a few weeks about the “message” I wanted to craft for you all. A message of hope on surviving the suicide of a loved one. I thought about what my theme, issue, or talking point would be and how I would deliver my message. But all that pressure led me to worrying about the perfect way to talk about suicide (like that’s possible) and in turn, to me not talking about it at all.

I am not always sure how to bring to light and talk about such a difficult topic. So instead, I am just showing up with what I got. I am here to say my brother Ben killed himself. I am here to say if you have been through a traumatic loss in your life, you are not alone. If you do not know how to talk about or honor your loved one in the perfect way, you are not alone. I am here with you.

As lovely as it is to support others by letting them know we are there for them during mental health awareness month, it is probably more important to remind ourselves it is okay to talk about our own mental health. This month and every other month. It is a reminder for us to practice talking to our friends and family courageously and speak our truths instead of hiding them. I encourage us to respond to “How are you?” with actual feeling words instead of “I’m good” when we might not be. I get it, this is not the easy path. It’s awkward. It is out of our comfort zones. But unless we want to be stuck in the same feelings or numbness, we must be courageous. Honoring and allowing our feelings is how we can move past them.

I am so imperfect, we are all so imperfect. If we talked about our imperfections more, perhaps we wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone. Maybe we wouldn’t feel pressure to be perfect if we witnessed other people sharing their imperfections. Maybe sharing our messy lives will help others feel safe to share theirs. Maybe then we will be able to stop comparing ourselves to people’s projected highlight reels, get off autopilot and have real conversations that matter.

Maybe we could come together and, even though we may not be sure how, we could share honestly and offer support to each other as we work through the messy, hard times that happen in our lives. Maybe we could create a community of support for real humans with real, human, messy lives.

To find out more about Carrie, visit her website at

My parents, Patti and Terry Cullen, co-founded BENS Hope after losing my brother Ben to suicide in 2014. BENS Hope is an organization that works to raise awareness, educate and support in our small community. They offer a Survivors of Suicide Support Group that meets once a month for anyone affected by suicide. We recently hosted our 4th annual BENS Hope Suicide Awareness 5k run/2 mile walk event on September 22 here in Platteville. Check out BENS Hope on Facebook or go to for more information. Because Everyone Needs Some Hope.

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