Life is (still) Sweet

Monday, February 1, 2016

Life is sweet.
I want you to remember that.
It's something that I have believed for as long as I can remember. And it all started with my mom, Debbie.

Life is sweet month - Ashley Gibson's blog

My mom died by suicide when I was 13, and her life (and death) have greatly impacted my life. I've always been very open about my mom's death and opening up a dialogue about suicide and mental health, because I truly believe that it is something we don't talk about enough in our society.

For the last 3 years, every February I have hosted 'Life is Sweet' month here on my blog. It started with a show that I did to honour my mom's memory and then I thought that hosting a series of guest blog posts would be an incredible way to open up an even bigger conversation about mental health, loss and grief.

From 2013-2015 more than 50 people shared their stories candidly. Their bravery had a huge ripple effect on those who read the posts and the dialogue that followed. I shared posts from friends, family members, former lovers, internet acquaintances and complete strangers, of all ages, backgrounds and life stories. I was continually inspired, moved, and often brought to tears by their stories and their willingness to share.

Some participants told me things they had never shared publicly. Others told me how thankful they were for the opportunity to write about their experience and how it greatly impacted their life. In sharing these posts and my story through this blog series and my Life is Sweet shows, many other people told me their own stories of mental health, mental illness, grief and loss. 

Year after year, the Life is Sweet series has taught me that we need to keep the conversation going - it's not about one day, one week or one month - it needs to be happening year round, because mental illness is a thing that is happening every day in the lives of those around us. All of these people are a reminder that the conversation doesn't end and that it's up to all of us to end the negative stigma around mental illness. 

This project has brought me closer to my mom. Since 1999, February has always filled me with dread - it's cold, dark and dreary here in Canada and to make matters worse, I've always had to contend with my mom's death anniversary at the end of it. It's been 18 years since my mom died and over the last few years I've been so grateful to not only share her story, but to bring a positive light to her death. My blog posts and show have been an opportunity for new people to get to know my mom, and in a way, for me to spend time with her too. I continue to miss her every day. 

These are all of the stories that have been shared from 2013-2015. In the future I hope to categorize them by topic, but wanted to start by sharing them all in one place. I encourage you to read them, share them and keep the conversation going.

February 2013

A Little More Time - Part One / Part Two

February 2014

Debbie Gibson and Ashley Gibson

February 2015

Debbie Gibson - Life is Sweet month

Other Posts About My Mom, Mental Health and Grief

Oh they told you life is hard, misery from the start, it's dull, it's slow, it's painful 
But I tell you life is sweet, in spite of misery, there's so much more, be grateful

- Natalie Merchant

Life is sweet.
I want you to remember that.

Life is Sweet month - stories of mental illness, mental health, grief and loss

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