As I listened to the Whitney Houston "Home Going Service" today, I was struck by the wealth of love and support in the church. I wondered if she knew how much she was loved. I wondered how many attending the funeral called her on a regular basis to say, "I love you, I am thinking of you, I am praying for you or how can I help you. Sometimes, we just assume that our friends and family members will reach out for help if they need it. If a friend has a good job and a nice house, we assume that they have a great life. We measure happiness by beauty, money and fame.
The truth is that many of our family members and friends, who on the outside may seem to have it all, may be feeling lonely, insecure or hurt on the inside, and dealing with mental and physical circumstances that we don't know about. A recent report stated that the number of Americans using illegal drugs reached 22.6 million, or 8.9 percent of the population, in 2010, and more people now abuse Prescription drugs than illegal drugs. We may not have known Ms. Houston personally, but it is very likely that we have a friend, family member or co-worker within these numbers. We may not be able to bring about world peace or end world hunger, but we can be heroes in our own lives and in the lives of the ones that we love. Let us do more than just spend a few hours watching the funeral, shedding a few tears and then moving on without change. Here are a few things that we can do today.
- Make time for the ones that you love. Call or visit, Facebook and Twitter updates are not enough; sometimes a friend needs to feel and experience the love.
- When you say "how are you?", wait for an answer and then look the person in the eye, you may be surprised at what you hear.
- Offer love and support and follow up with concrete action. Sometimes waiting for someone to ask for support just places an additional burden on someone who is already burdened by personal problems.
- Let go of the stigma associated with mental illness by talking about it openly and giving others the freedom to discuss it openly with you.
- Let go of the stigma associated with receiving counseling or other mental health treatment. Our mind is just as important as our body and if we can get a yearly physical for the body, there is nothing wrong with getting a yearly physical for the mind.
- Find a positive crutch. A few years ago, someone told me the bible was a crutch. At some point in our lives, we all need a crutch to help us handle the stress of life but we need to choose wisely. Instead of drugs, alcohol or over-eating, we can choose exercise, meditation, a favorite bible verse, or counseling.
- Ask yourself this question - If your friend or loved one died, would you find the time and money to attend their funeral? If so, you now have the time and money to visit them and lend a helping hand.
- Honor your mind and your body by taking care of both. The greatest love of all is inside of us all, we just have to believe it and live it.
Rest in peace, Ms. Houston. It would be great to see this list grow to at least 100 positive ways to honor the life of Ms. Houston. Add your positive, non-judgmental suggestions to the list and pass it on.