“Don’t let your pain be in vain”

Those are some of the most profound words that I’ve heard in a long time. Jason McKenzie described the moment in his life when he made a courageous decision to post a video on the internet.  

Sometimes as a podcast host, I learn more than the listeners at the end of a great episode. That happened to me when I sat down in the studio and listen to Jason share his story on the latest episode of UNBEATABLE.

His simple decision to make this video to describe what it felt like to go through loss, pain, and unimaginable tragedy thrust Jason unexpectedly into the spotlight.  Before he knew it, thousands were watching the video and commenting on how much this short video impacted their lives. His motivation was simply to make sure that he didn’t go through this tragedy in vain.  He realized that he could use the lessons he learned to help others in similar circumstances. 

Jason had me on the edge of my seat throughout the interview, and here’s what I learned.

Don’t suffer in silence

Jason had what most men dream of: a beautiful wife, a growing business, and he was highly respected in his community. He had a bright future… until the moment he lost his wife to suicide.  Most men would self-destruct and destroy their own bright future after going through the unspeakable pain of losing a spouse like this.

Jason was hurting, and everyone around him could see it. However, it’s taboo to talk openly about suicide in our society. Therefore, few people even knew what to say when Jason was struggling. To this day, Jason admits that he doesn’t even know what to say to people who are going through the same circumstances.

There’s no shame in telling somebody when you’re hurting. One of the most difficult parts of surviving the suicide of a loved one is the silence that goes along with the loss. -not just the silence of having lost a spouse, but also the silence of friends and family that just don’t know what to say.  

Jason had to let down his guard and become okay with not being okay. If you’re struggling and suffering right now, you don’t have to go through it alone. 

Take the first step

You never totally get over a loss like this.  However, as time passed, Jason realized that he learned a lot through the painful process.  Not sure what to do with the painful lessons he had learned, he decided he didn’t want others to suffer in silence like he did for years.  

Jason realized that if he remained silent about his experiences, he was contributing to the public stigma around suicide. This moment became a bit of a crisis for him. If he remained silent, he was contributing to the problem.  However, if he shared his story, he would have to re-live the pain and loss again and again. 

The first step is always the hardest to take.  Every other step proceeds naturally from there. 

Jason decided to take the first step.  He called a friend and ask him to help shoot a video about his experiences.  Even after this amazing video was completed, Jason still wasn’t sure if he wanted to be so real and vulnerable with people.  He took a deep breath and hit send to upload this video on Instagram.  

What happened next blew his mind! People started watching the video… a lot of people!  

Not only did they start watching the video, but they started commenting on it and describing how much of an impact this short internet video made on them personally. People started calling, texting, and emailing Jason about how this video was making a difference in their lives.

Let others learn from your experiences

If you listen closely to this episode of UNBEATABLE, there’s a moment where Jason takes a deep breath and answers one of my questions with rare honesty and vulnerability.  Not wanting to put him in a delicate spot, I gave him the opportunity to play it safe or to put it all out there. I was so proud of Jason’s willingness to be open about his pain.

Jason’s courageous decision stems from a desire to help others who are going through something similar. He realized that if he remained silent, other people would have to struggle through the same difficulties on their own.

Being willing to share your vulnerabilities and suffering is an essential step to helping others who are hurting and vulnerable also.

Listen to Jason’s courageous story on UNBEATABLE.  Go check out his viral video on YouTube. Learn from a man that has decided to keep his Natalie’s memory alive by helping others go through loss.

Follow Jason’s example. Make the courageous decision to use your story to help others going through suffering. Don’t let your pain be in vain.  

Further reading