‘Joann Thurlow’ The ‘Loss and Healing’ Journey Has Ups And Downs, But It’s Easier When Someone is There For You

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September 25th, 2020

OMAHA – Joann Thurlow and her husband would have celebrated 17 years of marriage this year. Steven or Steve as she always called him was a veteran. Steve took his own life in 2003. Thurlow remembers him like this.

“Hard-working, silly, competitive, stubborn, ah… very supportive,” Thurlow, says.

Joann Thurlow. She was at the first AFSP walk in Omaha.

Steve showed no signs of depression or thoughts of suicide. Just one day, he got off the couch and went to his car where he kept a firearm.

Thurlow has been a teacher for over 21 years. She and her husband lived in North Carolina and Germany while he was in service. They were married for 14 years and had no children.

Her husband never had a deployment, for most of his service he was a trainer.

Since her husband left, Thurlow continues her Journey of ‘Loss and healing,’ some days better than others. Volunteering for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or AFSP has been of great help for her.

“I was part of the of the education programs committee, I still am. My biggest this is the loss and healing piece of it, because loss and healing is one of the four components and I’m pretty good on the loss and healing component,” Thurlow, says. 

In 2003, there was not much support of this kind in Omaha. Then Thurlow was part of a support group on a Yahoo chat, there she learned about the first AFSP walk in the fall in Kansas City.

A year after she participated in that walk, Omaha had its first walk with nearly 200 people. Thurlow volunteered from then until she became a board member around 2010.

AFSP is divided into four main components, research, Advocacy, loss, and healing, where Thorlow found her place.  

There she is receiving help at the same time that she is helping others who are in the same situation, in the recovery journey of losing to someone by suicide.

“Grief is not a straight line, some people think, I’m sad today and I will always be sad, no but you will be happy too though, you will feel peace about listening to a song or looking at pictures you will find peace in those, those pictures,” Thurlow, says.

The AFSP Nebraska Chapter has grown significantly and now they can offer more help. Also they work with other local support groups.

For Thurlow, it is a passion, reaching out to others and telling them ‘You are not alone.

 “I can continue my loss journey with other, because that feeling of alone hits really hard,” Thurlow, says.

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