Bend‘Keep Your Head Up Bend’ fundraiser Saturday takes on topic of mental...

‘Keep Your Head Up Bend’ fundraiser Saturday takes on topic of mental health

‘Keep Your Head Up Bend’ fundraiser Saturday takes on topic of mental health

‘Keep Your Head Up Bend’ fundraiser Saturday takes on topic of mental health

(Editor’s note: This article includes discussions around the topic of suicide.)

About a year ago, the nice stretch of the river of my life began to look different. I gave everything I had to avoid going over, but rivers flow to the sea and they don’t ask for your permission. 

I speak in more detail about it on a previous mental health edition of Little Did I Know that you can find at this link.

But today, I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to circle back and say thanks for the flood of responses from people who said they could identify with what I was going through. 

So now it’s time for me to check in and see how you are doing. Have you got your ship righted? For me, it’s been a year of getting my bell rung and learning to see through different eyes.

RELATED: Little Did I Know: Learning to deal with grief and loss around the holidays

“It seems like things start to soften after the second year of a major life transition or loss,” said Sarah Peterson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Clear Mourning. “ I think the first year people are sort of caught off guard and dealing with the shock of the first the first anniversary of the first birthday, the first holiday without the experience they had planned on or the person they thought they would be with.”

Buddha said that life is suffering and he’s basically right. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered an emotional trauma in their lives. So for me, that indicates there must be value in them. 

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can even come to accept it. And the dream, of course, is eventually becoming grateful for it, or at least most of it.

“Spend time in the grief so that you get to know it,” Sarah said. “Because, once again, like even when we think about year one and year two and how you can learn what to expect from it, so is it with the waves of grief. The more time you spend paying attention and not pushing it away or completely being consumed by it, you’re actually getting to know it. Signs that it’s coming, trust that even if you dove into that wave, it will again subside. 

“I think a lot of people have fear around, ‘Well, if I give in to this grief wave, it will never stop.’ But it does. It does subside. You will have a moment of joy. You will will laugh at something funny again,” she added.

Personally, I turn inward, then outward when dealing with grief. Mother Nature, for me, not only gives me perspective, but the solitude allows me to confront some of the emotions I might not yet be able to express to others.

“Until you name it, you can’t transform it,” Sarah said. “And pain not transformed is transmitted. So on your hike in that moment, the transformation of that pain potentially stopped you from transmitting it either to the world around you or on the loop.”

Blaming yourself for not being able to get back to who you once were is pointless. You aren’t, but it does give you the opportunity to redefine who you are. And oftentimes the answer to that question is a major step forward.

“If your goal is to be who you once were, I don’t know if that’s achievable for you. Having faced what you’ve faced. So to set yourself up to live in perpetual disappointment only exacerbates the grief experience,” Sarah said.

Aas fate would have it. As I was getting ready to do this story, a former colleague of mine reached out and said she was putting an event together for this Saturday for National Suicide Awareness Month.

“For this event, we want to get people to start talking about their mental health,” said Claire Meredith, who is organizing “Keep Your Head Up Bend” on Saturday afternoon. “To encourage people to ask for help when they need it and just to lift our spirits with the healing power of live music.”

The event is at Bunk and Brew, 42 NW Hawthorne Avenue, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. An optional $10 donation is requested at the door with proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Musical performances include The Rumpeppers, Billy and the Box Kid, Not Your Ex Lover, and others.

The event takes on a deeper meaning this year because of a recent reminder of what the stakes truly are.

“I started planning this event at the end of May, and then on July 23, our friend and beloved community member Adam Braziel died by suicide and it it was like getting punched in the stomach,” Claire said. “But we knew that we had to keep doing this event and just make it bigger. So we expanded it two stages.”

If at this moment you’re feeling absolutely hopeless and simply don’t have time to wait. We have a wonderful resource in the area called the Deschutes County Stabilization Center. You can call them at 800-875-7364. You cal also drop in anytime, 24 hours a day, at 63311 NE Jamison Street in Bend, and meet with somebody face-to-face. 

Sarah can be found at or come on down on Saturday.

Community isn’t always what you feel like when you’re feeling down, but one little change of mind can oftentimes change everything — sometimes instantly.

“Just do it. Just come out. You’re going to meet some great people. You’re going to see some great music. We also will have several counselors here, some volunteer counselors that you can talk to if you need support. And I think it’s perfect for people who are hurting and don’t want to go out. That’s what this event is catered to,” Claire said.

Guests are encouraged to bring photos or messages for loved ones they’ve lost to suicide, which can be posted on the memorial wall.
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