Sustainability crosses over. The intersection of the personal and the professional has been the focus of this column from the start. Last week, they collided in an unexpected way: a young family friend’s suicide coinciding with the end of a project exploring student mental health issues on a college campus like the one he would have attended in the fall. It’s not just T’s death that has jarred me, but also witnessing the repercussions for his friends and family, including mine. Believing that a designer’s primary charge is to alleviate suffering, I felt powerless. Sometimes the best we can do in the moment is simply be present, and help others and ourselves endure. The evening after T’s memorial, the lapses in conversations did not need to be filled. The silences carried their own common meaning and weight. Grief transcends language; we knew why they were there. Reclaiming a sense of agency, I want the student mental health project to progress, propelled and informed by loss, but not defeated by it. I'm reminded of the Mary Harris (Mother) Jones quote: Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living. And also Paul Monette: Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world.
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