Over a decade ago my father committed suicide.
My dad was my best friend, hero, and everything I could have ever dreamt of becoming. My dad was wise, incredibly smart, and larger than life. He loved his family more than anything in the world. I was lucky enough to watch he and my mom fall in love over and over again when I was little.
My world was consistent and secure. Everyone was loved and taken care of. Suicide was an outlandish outcome and one that no one ever dreamt of touching our family.
But it did. In October of 2006 my hero died. And not only did he die, he chose to die. My dad committed suicide. I went to sleep one evening with my world in tact and was awoken to a world completely rocked and riddled with grief and sadness.
My entire perspective on life changed. Everything I thought I understood about life and loss shifted over night. My father, Steve Duym, a figure of strength, love, and consistency made the decision to not live anymore. I didn't understand how a man so strong and loved could feel like his life was not worthy enough to continue. I couldn't rationalize why my dad ending his life was the only option in the end
I've spent years trying to understand what caused such an intense break in my dad's heart that led him to leave. I've spent a lot of time with the people he left behind and those that were connected to him.
Closure I thought would come in the form of someone explaining to me why suicide was a reasonable option when my dad had so much to live for here.
What I learned over the past decade is much more powerful.
People have to know that they're valued. People have to believe that they're worthy. You and I fundamentally have to understand that they we are critical pieces in this huge puzzle of life we're both a part of. Awareness of value and recognition of worth are two huge things that are not practiced enough.
My dad died of a broken heart. He forgot how valued and important he was.
I've decided to do something about it. Every 40 seconds it is reported that someone will commit suicide. Every 40 seconds someone steps into a world of isolation and brokenness and forgets their value and importance.
How can we inspire and empower people to recognize worth and acknowledge value in themselves and those around them?
Physically showing gratitude and appreciating the people around you can alter the trajectory of someone's life. When you and I take the time to recognize worth and acknowledge value in ourselves and the people around us, the way life is lived shifts.
Sharing your gratitude of someone in your life and receiving gratitude from the people around you empowers people to see their value. When you express gratitude for someone else, you've just made them aware that they're a piece of your life story. They're contributing to your life, your day, your moment.
When we are acknowledged within the stories around us we develop our own understanding of our self worth. When someone expresses gratitude for us, now we're empowered to realize our own self worth because we are important and valuable pieces in someone else's story.
Gratitude is powerful. I built Grateful & Company with the sole intent of radically recreating an awareness for physical gratitude in order to empower people to recognize worth, acknowledge value and to show appreciation for themselves and for those around them.
Radical gratitude can change someone's life. My prayer is that even if my dad was still here with us today that this mission would still be prosperous. It shouldn't take a tragedy for us to realize there is fundamentally a lack of physical gratitude and people understanding their value in our world.