Recently I had the incredible honor of working with a woman whose nephew, Aaron, had died by suicide. During our first design call, she described him as a giving, kind, thoughtful person who genuinely cared about others and seemed happy under most circumstances. She talked about how she struggled to reconcile how deeply her nephew had suffered, and how no one in the family had any idea – not even his mother.
My client decided to commemorate her nephew with a custom pendant in the shape of a shield for Aaron’s mother to wear – a symbol of a life that continues in the hearts of those he left behind.
I wanted to honor the incredible missing and depth of love between a mother and her child, so I carved out the heart, letting the negative space communicate absence, while at the same time showing her open heart, laid bare for all to see. We chose pink opal to set into the heart, for Aaron’s birthstone.
Finally, I carved a semicolon into the side of the heart – a symbol of the faith-based nonprofit Project Semicolon, that works to raise awareness of and prevent suicide. (Read more about their incredible work and impact here.)
While a pendant can never hope to hold or represent everything that Aaron was and still is to the people who loved him, my client shared with me that the piece brings Aaron’s mother comfort and is a reminder of her commitment to carry him with her always.
This story still touches me in so many ways. No one can measure the power of the human spirit, nor its suffering. Tending the connections to those you love can help. Asking if someone you think may be suicidal is contemplating self-harm can feel risky but ultimately, can save a life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention lifeline. Qualified, caring professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-273-8255. You can find more resources at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.