we are telling the story this month of one of our earliest customers, Diana Hendricks. she came to us after our mention in garden & gun magazine and immediately identified with our mission of creating talismans for bravery. she and her family (that is her beautiful daughter above) had just been through something life altering-ly tough, her husband’s suicide. Diana’s husband was incurably ill when he choose to end his life. she accepts that it was his choice and considers herself and her children, suicide survivors, not victims.
when she first reached out, she was giving one of our bandanas to each of her adult children, all in the thick of their own rites of passage; marriage, moving house, new career path… and all reeling from their common loss. her story has stuck SO close to my heart because it is WHY we do this work. if we can offer people who are looking at their path and it is steeply uphill, they need a talisman to know they are more capable and so much braver than they know.
Elise asked Diana some questions about her story, we are so honored that she took the time to share with us:
What time of your life would the words, Giddy Up, have done you some good?
It’s not just a southern thing. Women everywhere have learned that no matter how bad things are or how low we get, we can pick ourselves up – shoulders back, navel to spine – we will feel better about what we are doing, and most importantly, about ourselves. Yes. There are days when we simply cannot face the world. There will be moments when we are consumed with the “what ifs” and “why bothers” But there comes a moment when we have to get out of our pajamas and “Giddy Up!” – not because someone tells us to – and not for anyone else, but for our own souls and spirits. Note: No one can tell you how to do it or when it’s time. But you’ll know.
Are you willing to share with us how suicide has shown up in your life story?
Though I have been on the front lines of suicide, I don’t know much about suicide prevention. I have come to learn that if someone truly wants to die by suicide, they generally are not going to be drawn to movies or meetings or even posters that dissuade that decision. But maybe, knowing how the people they love will be affected would help some people stop and think about what is often a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Maybe we can all work toward being kinder and more compassionate to all of those around us – and really spend time being mindful of the people in our lives.
More than anything, these acts of kindness manifest into bravery and develop resilience. Depression is a serious disease that people don’t like to talk about because they don’t understand it. 60% of suicides are linked to depression. This doesn’t mean that most people with depression will commit suicide, but it should help us to be sensitive to those suffering around us. Depression doesn’t always equal “sad.” The pain cuts much deeper than that. And sometimes, even the smallest act of kindness or understanding can make a world of difference. I am forever grateful for the friends and complete strangers who practiced those random acts of kindness with me when I was in throws of depression after Mark’s death, and vowed to do what I could to pass it forward.
What helps you get through tough times?
Coming to know how resilient we truly are as human beings has helped me survive the greatest heartbreak a person can experience, and grow stronger through it.
Learning, the hard way, that things don’t always go as planned, but that we are each amazingly resilient.
And most of all, knowing that we can bounce forward. Yes, it’s true. When something horrible happens and you break inside, people used to believe that you went one way or the other: you would either stay broken or bounce back. But wait, did you know that there is another option? Did you know that you can bounce forward?
You have the ability to come through the most horrific things life can throw at you – and become stronger through those experiences.
But you have to know that bouncing forward is a possibility – just like a little girl needs to know that she can grow up to be a doctor or a judge or a president. You see, if you don’t know it’s an option, you won’t know to try. Knowing that it was an option – that I could and have bounced forward has helped me be braver, and step out, and do more than I ever thought I could do.
I know you’ve given your children “Be Brave’ bandanas. Do you feel better knowing that they are wearing encouraging words? Have any of them said anything or reacted to those words / the bandanas?
My adult children and I are each finding their own ways through this new world that we live in without Mark. Nearing the one year anniversary of his suicide, I gave each of them one of Jenni Earle’s “Be Brave” bandanas, with a letter:
My dear children,
As I write this, it has been nearly a year. I guess we have reached that point where we can count the years, rather than the months, the weeks, the Tuesdays, or the breaths we took – even as we wondered if we would ever breathe normally again.
It goes without saying that this has been the worst year of our lives. It has been the hardest, and the saddest, and the most hopeless year we have ever been through. But we have survived. And we will never be the same. We have been through the depths of hell together. We have seen, heard, and known things no one should ever have to know, and that we will never be able to un-know. It is a battlefield we survived together and I feel some level of comfort knowing that bond – though it was of the most horrible moment of our lives – will always be there. As a measure of who we are and will always be. There for each other.
January 3, 2017 changed us forever. While we never aspired to be these new people, we are. Braver. Stronger. Harder. And yes. Better. I want to wish that nothing bad will ever happen to you again. But shit will happen. I can only hope that this was the bar by which you can measure things; that you can know that if you survived this, you can survive whatever you face in the years to come.
A I sit here today and reflect on the last year, I know that we have survived the worst of the storm. We will feel sad and angry and heartbroken and depressed and anxious and lonely, but from now on, it will not consume us. And our sadness cannot be Mark’ s fault. He took 2017 from us. But somewhere along the line, we gained one last gift from him. While his death was his choice, our recovery will be a testament to who he believed WE could be, and what he loved about us. Strength. Determination. Bravery. Self.
2018 belongs to us. We have all transformed into different people in this last year, and we know one another better than we ever have before. You have carried me through the darkest of the times and encouraged me to step back into the light of day.
As we grow into 2018, we have a chance to be brave. We don’t have to be perfect. We can strive to be happy. “There will be times when we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere will say, “Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.”
This is when, in the words of writer Brenè Brown, “You reach into your wild heart and remind yourself: ‘I AM THE WILDERNESS.’”
I wish I could give you something more than this faded, hand-dyed talisman to mark this anniversary and to express my love and thanks for who you are and who we have become. But this is it. Keep it in a box or carry it in your car. Wear it around your wrist, or as a sweatband when you are out with with the dogs. But know that in that stack of belongings you move into the new place – this one has a special power. It is a talisman of luck and strength and wilderness and courage. Use it wisely.
But maybe this can be our motto for 2018 and beyond. Let’s be brave. And step out. And do more than we think we can do. We have managed to get this far. We ARE the Wilderness. Here’s to a brave new year. And don’t forget to come home.
I love you.
thank you Diana!!! your story and words are incredibly inspiring. we are so grateful to know you.
picturing that amazing family wearing their bandanas is so beautiful. they are each connected by a piece of cloth, a talisman, and the words as a reminder to feel fear and get on with the doing. we are so inspired by Diana’s courage.
as always, trailblazers,
DIANA FINLAY HENDRICKS, a Texas Hill Country–based writer, editor and photographer, has spent her career in journalism, photography, and feature writing, focusing on Texas and Southern music and culture. She is a regular contributor to the Journal for Texas Music History, Lone Star Music, and her most recent book was the biography of multi-Grammy winner Delbert McClinton: One Of The Fortunate Few (Texas A&M University Press). She is currently working with Greater Tuna co-creator and actor Jaston Williams on his first novel, The Fool and the Daylight Moon.
The header photo is Diana’s daughter, HalleyAnna Finlay Welch, who is a singer-songwriter based in Austin, TX. Raised right, she knew that if she was going to San Francisco, to be sure and wear some flowers in her hair…and a “explore more” bandana. Check out her music wherever you get your tunes!