When There’s No Word Like ‘Widow’

— After my sister died, I yearned for a word like “orphan” to name my new identity.

By Kyleigh Leddy

The first time I lied about my sister, I was sitting in a semicircle in my high school homeroom study hall. Our teacher asked us to describe one of our siblings as a class bonding exercise. Numb with grief, I almost laughed at the cruel timing.

I was 17 and my sister, Kait, had been missing, presumed deceased, for only a few days.

One by one, my classmates shared anecdotes about their brothers and sisters. When it came to my turn, I panicked and said, “I’m an only child.” The words tasted sour in my mouth.

On Jan. 8, 2014, security cameras captured footage of my sister walking to the peak of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge and not returning. She was 22 years old and had been struggling with her mental health and the effects of a traumatic brain injury for several years.

It might have been easy to deduce what had happened, but grief defies reason. My family never found Kait’s body. It took us years to accept that she had taken her life, and even longer to put the experience into words.

In the months after my sister’s suicide, every time someone casually asked me if I had siblings — on first dates; during college admission interviews; in the grocery store in the middle of an otherwise average day — I would wince. It was such an innocuous question for some, but so loaded for me. It made my chest ache each time.

Later, in college, where no one knew me or what had happened, I found it easier to lie about being an only child than to communicate the clunky but simple truth: I once had a sister but now I don’t.

In those early weeks of college orientation, full of repetitive conversations about our hometowns and prospective majors, I remember feeling surprised, guilty and sometimes even angry when people believed me. How could they not see all the ways my sister has shaped me?

I think of her when I do my makeup in the morning. I use her unique turns of phrase. I imagine her advice before I make a major decision. I don’t do this consciously. I do it because I was born a sister. When I entered the world, Kait was already in it. There is no version of me that exists without her imprint. And the qualities I like most about myself — my sense of humor, my desire for adventure — are hand-me-downs from her.

I wished there was a word to identify myself in relation to my loss. I longed for a label that would be instantly understood by others, one that would communicate both Kait’s presence and absence in my life. I wanted a word like orphan or widow — a term that says, “I once had a sibling, but I lost her.”

“There are no words,” was a phrase I heard often when I was grieving, and on some level, it is true. Death is mute. Loss steals our language. There aren’t sufficient words to convey what it feels like to lose someone you love — and even fewer to comfort those of us who know the feeling too well.

But does the inadequacy of language in the face of death mean we should silence ourselves? Grief is isolating enough. Shouldn’t we try to name what we can?

Some people may bristle at the titles of orphan, widow and widower, as they each come with their own stereotypes and limitations. But, after losing my sister, I yearned for a similar title to locate and lend legibility to my experience.

If I had a word to describe myself, perhaps I would have been more likely to mention my sister to my college classmates, rather than entirely omitting her existence. If I had a word to describe myself, perhaps I would have been more likely to meet and connect with other people who struggle to speak when asked if they have any brothers or sisters.

At the very least, I wanted a term that could serve as a metaphorical stop sign in conversation: a warning to tread carefully, a succinct and sufficient answer in its own right.

But I didn’t have that word. So I resorted to lying until, only a few weeks into college, I was caught.

A group of us were sitting on a friend’s dorm bed when a boy confronted me. I was telling a story about my sister’s brief flirtation with a famous actor.

I was bragging like a little sister, but I had previously told everyone that I wasn’t a little sister. The boy pointed out the discrepancy. “Who lies about something like that?” he asked.

As everyone turned to look at me, my cheeks burned and my heart caught in my throat. My voice wavered, but I didn’t cry. For the first time in a public setting of more than one or two people, I answered the question honestly.

That was seven years ago. Back then, there was more urgency and confusion for me about how to approach my loss. Now there is some clarity. The more I’ve written and talked about my sister’s life publicly, the more confident I feel in telling the hard, full truth.

If someone asks me if I have siblings now, I tell them that I have a sister who passed away. I tell them that Kaitlyn was rebellious, smart, beautiful, outrageously funny and sometimes outrageously defiant too. If they ask further questions, I tell them what she went through and how she died.

And yet, I still wonder if I and others whose siblings have died would benefit from having a word that names our pain — especially in the early days of mourning when telling the complete story may feel impossible.

For now, there is a word for longing, and there is a word for grief, but there are no words to describe how it feels to pull your phone out to text your sister and know that she won’t answer. There is no term for being the remaining half of a shared tradition, no label that captures a relationship that ends, but also doesn’t, like a phantom limb that still aches when it rains.

Hopefully, someday, someone will find or create an adequate term for people like me. But in the meantime, what I am, and what I will always be, is a little sister.

Complete Article HERE!

A Daughter Tries to Make Sense of Her Mother’s Suicide

By Michael Greenberg

A Daughter’s Search for Truth and Renewal
By Laura Trujillo

When a loved one dies by suicide, it can reverberate through the family for generations. In some instances, the emotional toll is worse than that of a murder. If — and this is a crucial “if” — the murderer is convicted and the motives and circumstances of the crime are aired, the family can at least clothe its grief in a conclusive story. In the case of most suicides, family members are left with the agony of guessing, and the guilt that ensues — I could have saved her, if only I’d heeded the signs — can lead them to imagine that they are inadvertently the killers themselves.

In her moving memoir, “Stepping Back From the Ledge,” a veteran journalist takes readers to this difficult place. Here’s the history, painful as it will be to read: On April 26, 2012, Laura Trujillo’s mother killed herself by jumping from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Mother and daughter were extremely close, and the circumstances surrounding the suicide make the web of Trujillo’s emotions a challenge to untangle.

Several months earlier, a visit to her stepfather at a rehab center where he was recovering from a stroke provoked vivid memories of his repeated intrusions into her bedroom to rape her from the time she was 15. The abuse continued throughout her adolescence, and to protect her mother, who seemed rejuvenated by her new marriage, Trujillo bore it in frozen silence. “She had her confidence now, joy, and I couldn’t ruin that, I told myself, no matter what he did to me.”

Trujillo was a happily married mother of four, with a fulfilling job as managing editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Recollections of her stepfather’s abuse shook the foundation of her life, to say the least, so her therapist suggested that she tell her mother what happened. Shock and guilt followed the revelation and their rich relationship became fraught and strained. Hoping to repair the rift and unburden herself of her trauma, Trujillo sent a long email to her mother, expressing all that she had felt and experienced. One of the haunting questions is whether her mother knew what was happening with her stepfather. “I told her I didn’t forgive her, because I didn’t need to forgive her. It wasn’t her fault. It was his.”

Two days after receiving the email, her mother killed herself. “I was certain I was responsible,” writes Trujillo. To make matters worse, her maternal grandmother and her mother’s siblings blamed her for the tragedy. They ostracized her and her children at the funeral, embracing the abuser, now a hobbled, elderly man, seemingly incapable of the crimes he had committed decades ago.

The loss of her mother plunged Trujillo into a deep depression. She plotted her own death, writing (and rewriting) goodbye notes to her husband and children. Trujillo ably describes the pernicious logic of suicidal depression. Ending it all became the only reasonable solution: “I truly believed at the time that my children would be better off without me — it seemed so normal and obvious.” The decision provoked a temporary sense of relief and calm. Enveloped by this feeling, she headed toward the Grand Canyon to join her mother.

How the author stepped back from this ledge constitutes the heart of the story. The process is slow, almost imperceptible at first. In a memoir like this, the author must be both scientist and lab rat, painstakingly dissecting her mother’s behavior and her own under duress. When Trujillo struggles to convey the most trying experiences, her inarticulateness becomes a form of eloquence. Among her realizations is that suicide is a mysterious and unknowable aspect of being human.

As mysterious are the ways we find to heal. Trujillo inherits a bracelet that her mother wore on her right arm on the day of her death. The bracelet is bent, and Trujillo wants to know if this is because of the impact of the fall. In the course of her investigative work, she reads the medical examiner’s autopsy report, which indicates she fell on the left side of her body. The “bend in the bracelet must have been simply from my mother squeezing it to fit on and off her wrist.” In the irresoluble shadow of suicide this fact offers comfort.

The most enduring pain is in the impossibility of understanding why. Trujillo’s mother had bouts of depression throughout her life. Is this knowledge enough to alleviate her daughter’s agony of self-blame? With suicide, Trujillo writes, “only one person ‘gets’ an ending; the rest of us are left with a story abandoned midsentence.” Fearlessly, Trujillo attempts to complete the sentence. For many who have been touched by suicide, her hard-earned story will be a helpful companion.

Complete Article HERE!

Coping With Suicide Grief

By Melissa Porrey LPC, NCC

After a suicide, it’s normal to feel confused, helpless, angry, guilty, and many other emotions. These complex responses to a death often make grieving complicated. Grief is never easy, but the unanswered questions, societal stigma, and associated feelings surrounding suicide can make the grieving process longer and more difficult than with other deaths.

This article will provide information on how suicide grief feels, offer tips to cope during bereavement, and provide suggestions on when to seek professional help.

Common Responses to Suicide Grief


Everyone grieves in their own way and experiences different feelings at different times. There are no right or wrong feelings. Emotions just happen. Common emotional grief responses after a death occurs include:

  • Confusion
  • Despair
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Longing

In addition to these common grief responses, after a suicide, people might experience shock and trauma from the nature of the death. Other responses may include feeling abandoned, rejection or betrayal, and shame.1 For some, it may be difficult to identify feelings, and they could experience emotional numbness.

When Is Grief Complicated?

Although never easy, for most people, grief is a healthy and normal response to loss. It allows us to process and work through the many thoughts, feelings, and reactions that come up after a death. About 7%–10% of people, however, experience complicated grief and have difficulty accepting the death and working through bereavement. This is common after deaths from suicide and homicide.2


There may be more thought processing after a suicide than with other forms of death and bereavement. Trying to find meaning in what happened, searching for answers of why it happened, and wondering whether anything could have been done to prevent the suicide are common.1

For some, there may also be intrusive thoughts and images, questioning of spiritual beliefs, and difficulty finding meaning in life. It’s also common to overestimate the ability to have prevented the death and to think of signs that were missed prior to the death.


While grieving, it’s common to exhibit behaviors that are both protective and maladaptive (harmful) as an attempt to cope with the intense pain of suicide bereavement. Some of these behaviors include avoidance of people and places that bring reminders of the deceased, concealing the cause of death as a way to cope, working to “solve” the reason why the person may have ended their life, or even attempting suicide.

Dealing With the Stigma of Suicide

However common, suicide is still stigmatized. This complicates grieving and might make it hard for you to talk about the person, their suffering, and how and why they died. For some, it may not be clear whether it truly was a suicide or an accident, as in the case of overdose and car crashes. These circumstances contribute to complicated grief, making it hard to grieve the loss and move forward in a healthy, socially acceptable way.3

You Are Not Alone

Though grieving after a suicide may feel very lonely, there are many people going through the same thing. Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of death across all age groups, and 1 in 20 people experience a suicide loss each year. That number increases to 1 in 5 within a person’s lifetime.1

Coping With Suicide Grief

Post-suicide support, or “postvention,” provides a path to working through grief. Social supports, bereavement groups, and individual therapy can teach valuable skills and offer tools to manage the psychological, behavioral, and physical aspects of suicide grief. Some research even shows that postvention support can prevent additional suicides and unhealthy physical lifestyles like smoking and poor diet that sometimes follow after a suicide death.1

How Long Does Complicated Grief Last?

Research shows that the risk of developing complicated grief decreases a year after the loss. For many people, complicated grief symptoms will no longer be present after three to five years.2

Grieve in Your Own Way

Grieving is as complex as it is individual. Everyone will experience grief and loss at some point and, according to some estimates, up to one-third of the population may deal with suicide bereavement, but the path to healing is different for everyone.2

Finding meaning after suicide loss is personal. For some, it might include donating clothes, time, or money to an organization that was meaningful to the person who died. For others, it may be throwing a celebration to honor the person’s life. And for others, it could include quiet and internal reflection. There is no right or wrong way to heal from suicide loss.

Throughout the grieving process, remember:

  • Setbacks may and, in fact, are likely to occur: It might feel like things are going well and then something triggers those grief-related feelings and reactions. This is a normal part of bereavement and should be anticipated.
  • Stay focused: Focus on what you were able to do and how you helped, not on what you did wrong or might have missed. Even the most supported and loved people die by suicide, and it’s no one’s fault when this happens.
  • Take your time: Grief is a lifelong process, and while it won’t always be raw and painful, it will always be present in some way. Give yourself the space and time to process your feelings as they come up.

Connect With Others

Grieving after a suicide can be a very lonely experience. It can feel as though no one else understands, and it may seem easier to isolate than ask for support from others. Finding a suicide support group can provide connection, comfort, and helpful ideas on how to grieve in a meaningful way.

Loved ones may become frustrated over time if they attempt to offer help and are consistently turned down due to a perception that they wouldn’t understand. Try reaching out to friends and family members with specific asks for things they can help with. Even small tasks like walking the dog, taking a child to school, or bringing a meal can be a big help and provide a much-needed source of support that lasts through bereavement.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, grief responses don’t improve over time, or they continue to worsen. Those who are grieving after suicide are at higher risk for certain mental health illnesses like:3

Those who have experienced a suicide loss are at higher risk of developing these mental health illnesses than the general public.1

In these situations, mental health professionals can help with processing the loss and finding meaning during complicated bereavement. Though many people cite a lack of energy and resources as reasons for the difficulty with working through grief after suicide, mental health support is often identified as a positive, helpful tool.2


Coping with a suicide is one of the most difficult types of grieve. Immediately following the death, it’s common to experience complex thoughts and feelings that include questioning, shock, anger, rumination, longing, and numbness, among others. There may also be a desire to isolate from others and a feeling that no one understands.

Combined with the trauma and stigma that come with suicide, the grieving period can be prolonged and complicated. Though bereavement may be complex, it’s also common. Support groups, help from loved ones, and mental health counseling are supportive tools that are proven effective in working through the complicated bereavement that follows a death by suicide.

A Word From Verywell

The pain that comes with losing a loved one to suicide can be intensely overwhelming and seemingly unending. If you are coping with suicide loss, it probably feels very lonely, but you are not alone. With the help of mental health professionals, others who have been through suicide loss, and family and friends, you can start to make meaning from the loss and find enjoyment in life again.

Grief is normal, but it doesn’t need to be painful forever. It helps to reach out to ask for support when you need it and accept it when it’s offered.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do people feel when a loved one dies by suicide?

    Losing a loved one to suicide is a painful and very difficult experience. It’s common to feel shock, numbness, confusion, anger, sadness, despair, and longing. You might also feel shame, betrayal, and abandonment. Over time, these feelings should ease. If they persist or worsen, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional.

  • How is suicide bereavement different from other types of bereavement?

    Suicide bereavement is a more complex form of bereavement, because it often comes with feelings of shock, guilt, and betrayal. The bereavement process is often filled with wondering what was missed and how the suicide could have been prevented. Rumination about why the person chose to die, combined with the traumatic circumstances of the death and stigma surrounding suicide often make it more difficult to grieve in a healthy, effective way.

    Complete Article HERE!

How to Help a Loved One Through Sudden Loss

Here’s how to offer support to someone grieving after an unexpected death.


By Julie Halpert

Over the past several years, the husbands of three of my friends died suddenly at the age of 50. These experiences helped educate me on how to be supportive in the face of an unexpected loss. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever be on the receiving end of such support. But that happened when I lost my son, Garrett, to suicide in September 2017.

Since Garrett’s passing, I have been amazed at the generosity of my community. One friend paid to have my home’s gutters cleaned and windows washed. Our family’s veterinarian refused to let us pay for her pet care services for a year. Another friend gave us keys to her lake house to use when we needed to get away. Each spring, we find a hanging plant on our porch from parents of a friend of Garrett’s. As brutally hard as it’s been to walk this new path without my son, these actions have provided a glimmer of positivity amid my despair.

While people have stepped up to help after our loss, such generosity is not always a given in the wake of a sudden death — an outcome that many families are experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 800,000 people in the United States alone.

“Many bereaved people experience another secondary loss when friends and family run away after a loss due to their own discomfort,” said Sherry Cormier, a psychologist and certified bereavement trauma specialist. Being present with a friend’s grief in this situation can stir up anxiety about death, she said. “They think, ‘That could happen to me.’”

Unlike a death that occurs in an older person after a long illness, with a sudden loss, “your world is turned completely and totally upside down; you’re in complete chaos,” said Camille Wortman, a professor of social and health psychology at Stony Brook University and author of “Treating Traumatic Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide.

Outside of the loss itself, one of the most painful experiences for grievers is that their friends and family may not be willing to help them through their grief, Dr. Cormier said. Rather than turning away, you can offer connection. Here are some ways to help a person who has recently experienced a loss.

Take on tasks.

With a sudden loss, the bereaved find themselves immediately inundated with new and mounting responsibilities. Helping ease that burden can be invaluable. Dr. Cormier suggested leading with language like: “I’d love to help. Does anything occur to you that may be useful?” If they don’t provide suggestions, you can be specific: Ask if you can bring dinner, mow the lawn or pick up groceries. You can also provide a welcome distraction, offering to go for a walk with the bereaved or take them out to dinner.

Jerri Vance, who lives in Princeton, W.Va., lost her husband, James, a 52-year-old police officer, to Covid-19 on New Year’s Day of 2021. “He went into the hospital on Dec. 7th and I never saw him again,” she said.

Immediately following her husband’s death, people in her community threw a fund-raiser for medical bills and funeral costs that raised $29,000. Friends and neighbors provided meals for a month and a half. Other friends helped her take down Christmas decorations. The principal of the school where she teaches third grade even showed up to clean her kitchen.

Ms. Vance said she appreciated all the prayers after her husband’s death, but she was most buoyed by those who offered to lighten her load.

Continue reaching out.

A study released in August by the American Psychological Association found that the loss of a loved one in a traumatic event can cause complicated reactions for those left behind, including prolonged grief. Other studies have found that people who have endured a traumatic loss are more likely to experience severe, intense and persistent psychological reactions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, compared with those who have had an expected loss, according to Kristin Alve Glad, a clinical psychologist and the lead author of the A.P.A. study. In these situations, Dr. Wortman said, the bereaved can struggle for many years or decades.

“Time does not heal all wounds,” Ms. Vance said. “There are times when I feel forgotten. Everybody goes back to their normal lives, and, for us, there’s never going to be a normal life again.”

Dr. Wortman suggested checking in periodically and reaching out during times when those who are grieving may be particularly vulnerable, like a wedding anniversary or major holidays. She has compiled a list of helpful websites and articles that focus on offering support in these situations.

Consider adding simple “thinking of you” messages to your to-do list. Lisa Zaleski, who lives in White Lake, Mich., confronted the unimaginable, first losing her daughter, Sydney, in June 2017 at the age of 23 in a car accident, then her son Robert in December 2019 to suicide when he was 31 years old. After her daughter died, a friend she wasn’t especially close with sent her a text of acknowledgment every day for a year. “It felt like a tremendous amount of support,” she said.

Connect the bereaved with community support.

Nneka Njideka, a licensed clinical social worker in Brooklyn, N.Y., who specializes in grief, explained that those with more resources have “grief privilege.” They may be able to take an extended leave of absence from work and afford a team of professionals to cope with the loss, for example. But she said that isn’t the case for those who are low on resources — and people of color in particular — who, in addition to losing their loved one, may be faced with “living losses,” like unemployment or food insecurity.

Calandrian Simpson Kemp, who is Black and lives in Houston, was working the night shift at a homeless shelter for women in 2013 when she got the call that her only son, George Kemp Jr., had been shot dead at 20 years old. “Everything you envisioned for them has been stolen from you,” she said. It was too much to bear for her husband. When she broke the news to him, “he dropped his keys and never went back to work,” she said. The family, which includes her daughter and stepdaughter, became uninsured as a result. She couldn’t afford mental health care and at one point needed to use a food pantry.

“I felt that bullet was still killing my husband and I, because we lost everything that we had,” she said.

Ms. Njideka said in these types of situations, it’s important to help the bereaved network with the community and build a circle of supportive resources, perhaps to raise funds for bills and therapy. Ms. Simpson Kemp started a program, The Village of Mothers, to assist mothers who lost their children in finding the services they need.

Listen more than you talk.

It’s helpful to just sit with those who are grieving and let them cry, Dr. Cormier said. Allow them to tell you the story of their loss and don’t try to problem solve or give advice. After Ms. Simpson Kemp’s son was killed, a woman from her church offered to drive her to the cemetery and simply sat with her there.

“She would just wait in the back and allow me to be still and silent in that space with George,” Ms. Simpson Kemp said. She “showed me it was OK to slow down and put the pieces together to help make sense of what had just happened.”

Choose your words carefully.

Try to be mindful to avoid minimizing the loss or encouraging a quick recovery, said Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychological science, public health and medicine at the University of California, Irvine. She has developed a list of “don’ts” in the event of a loss, based on her research with hundreds of bereaved people. Never suggest that you know how grievers feel, even if you’ve experienced a similar type of loss; you can’t possibly comprehend the depth of their grief, she said.

Other phrases to avoid, according to Dr. Wortman: “You’re so strong,” “You have so much to be thankful for” and “Everything will be OK,” along with religious platitudes like, “It’s part of God’s plan” or “He’s in a better place.”

Ms. Vance said it’s best not to make empty promises. Some of her friends promised her children pedicures and an outing to get ice cream, yet no one followed through. Her kids were hurt. “When you promise something, you’ve got to follow up with it,” she said.

In the case of a death by suicide, it may be even harder to know what to say or how to help, since stigma can be an issue. Doreen Marshall, a psychologist with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said loss survivors often feel an incredible amount of guilt and may assume responsibility for what happened. Dr. Marshall, who lost her fiancé to suicide, said that means friends and loved ones may be even more reluctant to offer support.

As with any other type of sudden loss, focus on providing the type of support that the griever needs, Dr. Marshall said. Avoid asking about the circumstances of the death, she said, but say the loved one’s name, ask about the person’s life and share happy memories that you have.

“We miss our kids like crazy,” said Marny Lombard, when we spoke about her son, Sam, who died by suicide in 2013 at 22 years old. If Sam comes up in conversation, it doesn’t make her more upset. “When you say the name of my child, you bring me momentary joy,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

When a friend dies by suicide

— Preventing suicide contagion

A friend or classmate’s suicide can increase risk for whose who are emotionally vulnerable or see suicide as a way to solve problems.


Suicide can shake an entire community. For some kids, a friend or classmate’s suicide increases the risk that they may resort to the same behavior. This risk, known as suicide contagion, can affect people who lived down the street from the person who died, went to school with them, or simply saw them around town.

“After suicide, the person’s closest friends aren’t necessarily the ones at greatest risk,” says Kimberly O’Brien, clinical social worker in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The kids at greatest risk are the ones who are already emotionally vulnerable and those who believe their classmate solved their problems through suicide.” O’Brien is also co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Anne Moss Rogers.

Here, O’Brien and Boston Children’s psychologist Erica Lee talk about how a classmate’s suicide can affect children and teens and ways parents can help their kids process their feelings.

Risk of contagion in the aftermath of suicide

Any death, particularly a death by suicide, brings up a wide range of feelings: shock, sorrow, anger, and guilt, to name a few. While there’s no right or wrong way to feel, some kids are more vulnerable to suicide contagion than others. “If a kid is already struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, a classmate’s suicide can exacerbate those thoughts and feelings,” says Lee.

The way people talk about suicide can also increase other students’ risk. For instance, the more details about how the person took their life are made public, the greater the risk that other students may engage in similar behavior.

To reduce such risk, parents and school officials can take a cue from the news media’s suicide reporting guidelines. The voluntary guidelines aim to reduce the chance of suicide contagion by:

  • not focusing on the method or location of suicide
  • not speculating what event or person may have triggered the suicide
  • not suggesting suicide is an understandable response to difficult feelings

This is not to say that parents should try to gloss over a classmate’s death. “Parents should not try to keep the suicide a secret from their kids,” says O’Brien. “You don’t want to focus on the method of death, but don’t take away from the loss of this person by not doing or saying anything.”

Self-care for parents in the wake of suicide

It’s only natural for parents to have a strong reaction when a child dies by suicide. Ignoring such emotions in an effort to appear strong can backfire. “Kids often monitor their parents for signs of distress,” says Lee. “If they think their parent is upset, they might hide their thoughts and feelings rather than upset their parent more.”

Taking time to process their emotions also gives parents a chance to think about what they want to say and how they want to say it, adds Lee. “The conversation may be hard to have, but approaching it in a calm, open frame of mind can reassure your child you will work through this together.”

Open communication to reduce kids’ risk of suicide

O’Brien suggests that parents check in frequently with their child after a classmate’s death by suicide. “A kid might feel fine one day, then it may hit them the next day.” Conversations should leave room for children to explore their feelings about the person who died, suicide, and their own experiences.

Open communication also includes asking kids if they have suicidal thoughts. “Many parents worry that asking a child if they think about harming themself may ‘plant’ the idea in their mind,” says Lee. It doesn’t. By asking the question, parents let children know it’s OK to talk about scary feelings.

Tips for talking with tweens and teens about the death of a classmate by suicide

  • Use clear, straightforward language and leave plenty of room for your child to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Open the conversation with questions. For instance, ‘What have you heard about what happened?’ and ‘How are you feeling about what happened?’
  • Focus on the fact that the person who died had a psychiatric illness that made it hard for them to think clearly.
  • Avoid judging the person who died or the people close to them. No single event causes suicide.
  • Be ready to hear what your child is thinking and feeling. Remember, everyone responds differently to suicide.
  • Offer reassurance. Most people with suicidal thoughts get support that helps them find other ways to cope with emotional pain.

If your child tells you they think about harming themself, feel hopeless, or is in overwhelming emotional pain, seek help from a mental health professional. If you believe your child is in immediate danger, call 911 or bring your child to the closest emergency room.

Honoring the person who died

Grieving after suicide can be complicated. “It’s important that kids have a way to honor their friend or classmate without reinforcing the idea that dying is a way to gain attention or love,” says Lee.

“To reduce other students’ risk, the emphasis should be on suicide prevention,” adds O’Brien. She suggests working with an organization like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help raise awareness about suicide. Kids can also participate in a fundraiser like an Out of the Darkness Walk or volunteer for a crisis hotline. Any of these activities can help kids acknowledge a classmate’s death while learning about suicide prevention.

If you or your child is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Complete Article HERE!

Deprived of the rituals of death, we are left to invent ways to contain our grief

When I lost my brother David, I did not know how to grieve. Not because I lacked experience, but because suicide obliterates the rituals we have built around death.

By Adam Mansbach

We have just lived through a year that burned ritual to the ground — both the rituals of life and the rituals of death. All of us who have lost someone have had to contend with the partial or total suspension of the comforts to which we might have looked. We are not able to cry together, nor crowd a house with food and bodies. Perhaps we have been denied even the chance to bear witness to the jolting finality of burial. And so we may find that our grief cannot run its course — that it is unable to find its way back to the ocean, absent the normal waterways.

Ten years ago, when I lost my brother David, I did not know how to grieve. Not because I lacked experience, but because suicide obliterates the rituals we have built around death. How do you celebrate a life when the person who lived it contends, as David did in the note he left behind, that he had always wanted to be dead? How do you mourn when the death has been fought for — sought, with the same fervor that most of us seek to continue living?

When I try to talk about it, suicide defies me. I have learned that it cannot be grafted onto other conversations. Even discussions of death, of depression, provide not a means of ingress but a reminder that there are no bridges to this island. You must swim. The few times I have done so, I have been a little drunk, and hours into a first conversation with someone I know I want to keep. A sense that I am being dishonest takes hold of me — that everything is false until I bare this wound. I grow impatient to find a way, bore open a point of entry, my heart throwing off sparks as if I were working up the courage to declare my love.

But once I speak it, I must contend with what it feels like to recite a narrative I have whittled down from something incomprehensible to a set of talking points. It feels obscurely disrespectful, to speak as if I understand. My brother bought an expensive skateboard that did not arrive on his doorstep until after he was gone; he was planning to live and planning to die at the same time. It was not an either/or but a both at once — no more a paradox than a train station with two sets of tracks running in opposite directions. I can write these words, shape this idea into a metaphor, but I don’t truly understand it at all.

I wish I could say that I learned to be gentle with myself when I lost David and realized that I had no means of finding peace. But I was not. I tried to force myself, at every turn — to cry when I couldn’t but felt I should, to let go of what I didn’t actually want to relinquish, to hold onto things that burned. I tried to write about him almost immediately, and castigated myself when no words came.

It took me nine years to find the language I was looking for — not a language that alleviated my grief, but one that contained it. It came suddenly, the way they say grace does. The week David would have turned 40, I began to write very fast, with an intuition about what came next and how disparate ideas connected that I trusted entirely — even or perhaps especially when it meant I was putting forth a notion only to question or disavow or undercut it.

I knew it was a ritual, even if I did not know whether a ritual was meant to fill the hole left by the loss, or deepen it until I could crawl out the other side. I would not say I found closure, as some people have asked. That word is loaded and mysterious to me. But I did find something, or perhaps something found me.

It was David’s story; it was my own. I could not tell it until his death had receded enough for me to see the whole thing at once, and until I realized that it was OK, was necessary, for the particles of my loss to float in solution, unreconciled, suspended like judgment. That if all I did was stare at them the way I might the tank of undulating jellyfish at the aquarium — which I also cannot understand, but do not seek to — that would be enough.

I think about this now, at a time when so many of the rituals that have guided and succored us are trapped on the other side of the glass. What can we do, when what we need cannot be accessed, or simply does not exist? Perhaps we can trust ourselves to intuit and then invent the things we need — to become the rituals that will sustain us.

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He Thought We’d Be ‘Better Off’

Two years ago, my husband of 18 years took his life. I’m still coming to terms with why.

By Jennifer B. Calder

My charming, brilliant, handsomely dimpled, fun-loving husband of 18 years and father of our three sons, ages 12, 13, and 16, killed himself on July 2, 2018.

He was 46.

Was it situational depression after nearly a year of unemployment following previous decades of professional ups and downs? Was it undiagnosed mental illness? Was it noble devotion? Sacrificial, as his letters suggested? Was it desperation?

Or was it, as our oldest son, Logan, said, “A lapse in judgment?”

Or, as our middle son, Grady, asked, “Did Dad love us too much?”

I think it was some combination of all of these.

How much is the life of a father of three boys and a husband worth? Is there a number that makes sacrificing oneself an acceptable, “viable” idea?

Of course not. It’s absurd.

But this is the scenario in which we find ourselves. Trying to make sense of the nonsensical.

On that terrible day, our family became part of a grim national statistic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2018, suicides not linked to a known mental condition comprised 54% of those who take their lives. Suicide rates, overall, are up 30% since 1999, with the highest increase and greatest number among those in middle age — a demographic my husband had just entered.

My husband now occupies a sliver of the pie you see on those impersonal fact sheets, the 16% who take their lives due to financial or job problems. We are now a family reduced to a mom and three sons desperately absent a husband and devoted father, trying to untangle this messy knot.

I watched my blue dot move closer to his on the Find My Friends app as I made my way through Watchung Reservation outside our hometown of Westfield, New Jersey.

His dot — the icon a tiny photo of him laughing, taken years ago on a “date night” — had been stationary for nearly an hour. I’d first activated the app around 3:45 p.m.

My last text from him was at 1:25 p.m., when I asked for reassurance that he’d seen my previously ignored text about taking our youngest son, Beckett, to guitar lessons at 4:30 p.m.

“K” was his response.

Not unusual. His messages were often terse. We joked, the boys and I, that it made him feel hip to use the minimum number of letters.

A little before 4 p.m., I checked and saw his photo near a winding road carving through the woods and assumed he was making his way home after spending the day driving Uber, which he was doing to make additional money while job searching.

I returned to writing the story I had due the next day.

I refreshed the app again at 4:20 p.m. or so. I wanted to see how close he was, to see if I should tell Beck to get his shoes on, but his icon had not moved.


I called. I texted. I wondered. No response.

He never showed

So I dropped our son at his lesson and made my way toward him — thinking, assuming, hoping he had taken the extra few minutes between Uber runs to catch a quick nap.

I felt anxious enough, however, not to take the extra moment to IM my boss and tell her I was leaving early

I just wanted to get to him.

He was a big napper

When he worked in New York City, he routinely slept through his train and bus stops on the commute home, texting me to say he was now several stations past our town and making his way back to us.

My most nefarious thought was that he’d picked up some psycho Uber client who had robbed or hurt him.

As I drove, I called my youngest sister in Michigan and one local friend, two of the only people who knew about his attempts to make extra money in this manner (his insistence), and both did their best to quiet my concerns.

“He’s just sleeping” was the mantra I repeated over and over, but as I drove, I scanned oncoming traffic for an ambulance. Something — it was elusive — but something about our last interaction that morning bubbled up and ignited worry in me

I woke earlier than normal and heard Matt come and go from the back door near the garage. I asked about the commotion he was making, and my voice seemed to surprise him. “Oh, you’re up early. I just forgot something,” he said, and he went to leave

I called out in an annoyed, sarcastic tone, “Um, okay. See ya?!” and he stopped and asked me what I’d said.

I heard him take a step toward me in the hall as I was pouring my coffee. I repeated my comment, tossed over my shoulder, because in my pre-caffeine grouchiness, I thought, “God forbid he come and give me a proper goodbye

He hesitated for a moment — a long, silent moment — then turned and left, which I found strange. Normally, a passive-aggressive comment at least got me a kiss on the head.

I forever will be tormented by wondering what might have happened if I had called out an “I love you” instead of a snide comment.

I shrugged and went about my day, thinking of how best to structure my story and hoping the boys would sleep late enough for me to get a good handle on it.

It wasn’t until later that night, after this happened, that I came across our life insurance policy in the “mailbox” we keep at the top of the basement stairs for important bills. And, in the middle of the basement floor, pulled from the dregs of boxes stored in the back closet, I found our bin of important files — birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, passports, and so on.

The commotion I’d heard earlier came into clear focus.

Matt had been prepping for what he was about to do that day, and when I woke earlier than expected, it interrupted him. A friend graciously theorized that had he come to me and said a proper goodbye, it may have broken the spell of what he had planned

As for me, I forever will be tormented by wondering what might have happened if I had called out an “I love you” instead of a snide comment

Or, conversely, if my bitchy tone made his decision all the easier.

As I drove, I mumbled promises. If I found him unhurt, I would be nicer, kinder

Our marriage had become strained under the stress of yet another job loss, at least the ninth in 18 years of marriage. While polite, we were nearing a breaking point

My queries about a Plan B—a “what do we do next?”—were dismissed.

“It’s under control” was his common refrain, which irritated me, yet none of that mattered as darker thoughts flitted through my mind. I vowed to be a better, more encouraging wife — after, of course, I gave him hell for napping through our son’s guitar lesson while I was on deadline.

I underestimated him.

I underestimated his desperation.

I underestimated our debt to the IRS.

I underestimated his devotion to our boys and his willingness to sacrifice his joy in watching them grow up in order to provide them, in his mind that terrible day, with a potentially stable financial future at the expense of a mentally secure one

I underestimated how much my disappointment with his consistent job losses over the past nearly two decades may have destroyed him.

I underestimated so many things, and for that, I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself.

What if I had been less exasperated? What if I had been more supportive?

What if? What if? What if?

He knew I was nearing the end of my rope. We’d danced this dance numerous times. I’d pull in from grocery shopping or school pickup and see his car in the driveway in the middle of the day. Let go again from whatever job, usually through no fault of his own.

The life of an options trader on Wall Street is precarious, and opportunities grew more scarce as the years rolled past.

We lost our home to foreclosure, along with so many people across the country, after the financial crisis in 2008. A year before that, I went out one morning to drive the kids to school, and my Suburban was missing from our driveway, repossessed for delinquent payments

I went back to work full-time as a writer, but my contributions barely covered the boys’ hockey fees, groceries, the occasional dinner out, and our health insurance.

He refused to talk about the details of our financial life as his unemployment ticked by, month after month.

“I am handling it,” he would say.

And, since he worked in the financial industry, I trusted he did have it under control. This was his area of expertise.

But it angered me. I wanted and expected to be a full partner. It wasn’t that he didn’t know this about me. I didn’t need protection. I have many faults, but being materialist is not one of them. I believe he simply did not want me to worry.

I offered to sell my valuable engagement ring. He wouldn’t hear of it, and that also made me mad.

So, I determined to take the pressure off him and look for a more prestigious, well-paying job. He counterargued that my current arrangement worked well for our family: I was able to work from home unless traveling on assignment, and I had no costs. I never missed a school concert or hockey game, and I made decent money.

His evasiveness and obstruction about our financial position pissed me off. But by that point, nearly everything pissed me off. I didn’t want to create more discord, so I didn’t push it.

“He gave us a great life,” I thought a month or so before this happened, as I looked around our lovely house filled with lovely things, and I wanted, I thought, to tell him this. But I was stubborn, annoyed, and fed up and couldn’t bring myself to thank him.

I also thought, this go-around, tough love might be better.

I was frustrated.

I was frustrated by the consistency of his car showing up back in our driveway during the workday.

I was frustrated by the thought of college in two years for our oldest son while we struggled, renting a house.

But I was mostly frustrated by his refusal to talk about other options, his stonewalling, his insistence that he had things under control.

And now, I guess, it seems he had a plan all along.

When we had our kids, we decided my job would be to stay at home with them. Which I absolutely loved. Not that life wasn’t challenging with a newborn, one-year-old, four-year-old, and neither help nor relatives nearby. It was much more difficult than my previous job running a gallery in New York City. Although I have a master’s degree in art history, my salary would have barely covered daycare for our three boys, and this privately thrilled me.

I was disillusioned with my career by that point. I loved my artists, but I’m more academic in temperament and not a natural salesperson, which made me ill-suited to the commercial art world.

But in hindsight, it seems silly.

Worse than silly — tragic. Placing our family’s entire financial burden on him was ridiculously unfair

After drinking too much wine one night, I told him how proud I was that he was driving Uber while job hunting.

He told me he didn’t want to talk about it.

Maybe he thought I was being sarcastic, but I wasn’t, and I hope — I truly hope — he knew I was sincere

I found him honorable

I encouraged him to tell our boys the truth, but he refused. He felt ashamed and told the boys he was “consulting.”

Worst-case scenario, I thought our marriage might not survive, although all the solutions and future plans I suggested — moving somewhere cheaper, a new career of teaching and hockey coaching for him — involved the five of us.

I wanted us to go to marriage counseling once he found a new job. I didn’t want to pile onto what was already an emotional and stressful time by doing it earlier.

We were a great family, the five of us. Even when our marriage was challenging, as a family unit, we were fantastic.


We truly loved being together. Maybe it was because we had no family close by, but any discord we may have felt with one another as spouses evaporated when the five of us were together. Which was constantly.

We had a blast. The jagged edges of my bossy, Type A personality were rounded out by the easygoing nature of his.

Well, at least in the beginning of our relationship.

Over the years, his inability to walk away from an argument, his inflexibility — although he was often right — was tempered by my more level-headed outlook, and I advised him to better pick his battles (not that he listened much). Still, he could make me laugh at myself and vice versa.

And we laughed a lot.

We joked and teased and made incredible memories together, creating a family shorthand only we understood: random words referencing an entire vacation the summer before, “Choo Choo byeeeeeeee,” and so on. We were an affectionate family, hugging and kissing and sharing “I love you’s.”

Although life at the moment muddied the waters, I believed the detritus would eventually settle. I thought we would return to clearer waters.

Divorce was my worst-case scenario. Our endgame. Not this.

He broke the deal.

On the map, my blue dot eventually, finally, gratefully overlapped with his as I spied my car and pulled into the tiny parking lot on the edge of the woods.

I was in his small BMW, which we’d bought in 2000, before we had our first son, and I parked next to my truck. He earned more money driving Uber in a larger car, hence, he’d taken over my 2006 Suburban.

I immediately knew something was wrong.

He was not in the car.

Either someone had hurt him or he’d gone into the woods to use the bathroom and had a heart attack. The app told me the car had been parked in the same spot for more than an hour, and it was so very hot that day.

Either way, I knew I needed help.

I got out of his BMW and began to dial 911, my heart ticking up in beats, thumping in my ears.

Then I heard the engine of my truck running.

I tried the driver-side door, and it was unlocked. I disconnected with 911 before anyone took my call. Opening it, frigid AC blasted me, a stark contrast to the 105-degree real-feel temperature outside.

I glanced into the back seat and had a moment of pure, gloriously unadulterated relief.

His legs.

They are seared into my mind, no matter how many times I shake my head to clear the image. His legs, crossed at the ankles, socks and sneakers and, farther up, his khaki shorts and a gray souvenir T-shirt from Anna Maria Island, where we had spent our last spring break.

In half the time it takes to exhale, I felt such extreme happiness and a smidge of annoyance.

Yep, napping.

He missed taking our youngest son to guitar lessons because he was sleeping while I had a story due, and now he’d made me drive into the middle of the woods to find and wake him.

But almost simultaneously, I saw an enormous brushed-aluminum cylinder tipped on its side. It took up most of the space between the two captain’s chairs in the second row. I would later learn it was a helium tank from a nearby party store — used to make balloons for children’s parties, not death.

I climbed through the front seats and onto his body, following the tube taped to the tank.

I didn’t see his bag-covered head at first; it had tipped back behind the seat as if asleep. A mask over his mouth connected to a tube under the bag, a bag you would use for a roasting turkey, and its string was pulled tight around his neck. I easily ripped it off and slapped his face, his head hanging back and his brown eyes half-opened while I screamed, “No! No! No!”

I could still hear the hissing of gas.

The force of my hand repeatedly striking his face moved his head back and forth and, for a grateful moment, I mistook this as responsiveness.

But then I saw his left arm resting on the canister. The top was yellow and, along the bottom, gravity had pulled the blood down, turning the entire length of it a mottled red.

I redialed 911, screaming, got out of the car behind the driver’s-side door and moved around the back of my truck to the rear passenger door nearest him. I did not feel a pulse but knew I needed to try CPR.

He was so heavy, and although the seat he was in was reclined, it was not flat. I knew that in order to administer CPR, he had to be flat. I tried, but I could not budge him out of the car on my own. Although we were in the woods, we were near a street. I stood in the middle of the road, my hands up, still connected to 911 and implored, screamed for people to stop and help me.

No one did.

As the mom of three boys, I have become, over years of many, many injuries, unnaturally calm in moments of crisis.

But not now.

Precious minutes ticked by as car after car swerved around me, no doubt frightened off by my panic.

The 911 operator kept admonishing me to calm down, repeatedly asked for my location and scolded me for my hysteria. But I had no idea where we were, having taken an odd, circuitous route through the reservation.

My inability to tell them our location only increased my desperation and the sheer horror I felt.

I continued to fail him.

Finally, an older woman with short gray hair and wearing a floral scrub top stopped, took the phone out of my hand, and directed them to our position.

Then another car stopped. And another. I remember one woman had a small child in the back seat, visible through the open window, and I shouted at her to stay in her car. I didn’t want her child to witness this.

The ambulance seemed to arrive quickly. They immediately pulled Matt’s body out of our car and onto the the uneven gravel of the parking lot. No one would let me near him. I can still feel their hands on me, holding me back.

I texted my sister, who had been calling repeatedly and getting my voicemail, two words: “He’s dead.”

She thought I meant it figuratively, that I’d found him sleeping and was irritated to have left my workday while on deadline only to find him napping. She called again, and apparently I answered. She recalls hearing nothing but my screams.

With uncontrollably trembling hands, I called my friend and asked her to gather my boys from their various positions around town. Her hysterics matched mine, and she later said I told her to knock it off, to pull herself together, hide her emotions, and get my kids home, words of which I have no memory.

She did. How, I have no idea, but she did.

I watched them working on Matt on the rock-strewn ground of the parking lot, weeds sprouting behind him, cutting his T-shirt to expose his chest. His body violently lurched over and over from their efforts, but I knew he was gone.

I knew he was gone from the moment I saw his arm in my car.

I had a fleeting hope that they could revive him, at least long enough for the boys to say a proper goodbye in a hospital. I asked where they were taking him and if could ride in the ambulance.

I then had the fear that he would be brought back enough to survive but not enough to actually live, and I didn’t know what to wish for in that moment.

I sat on the bumper of his car, my legs bouncing in hysteric motions mimicking my insides, drinking water a kind bystander had pushed into my hand.

I tried to focus on the bystander, on her commands to take deep, slow breaths, but I couldn’t make my body obey.

I saw Matt through the side door of the ambulance, his body now on a gurney. By this point they were working on him in the rig. His handsome head, with his salt-and-pepper hair, was perfectly framed by that door, like in a movie.

Then, suddenly, they stopped.

Snapping off their plastic gloves, they all stepped away, and he was alone.

It was then, for certain, I knew he was gone.

A howl that did not sound human escaped my body. I remember the noise startled me and it took a moment to realize I was the one making it.

It was 5:19 p.m.

Time of death: a little over a half-hour from when I’d called 911 at 4:46 p.m.

In the car were three letters: one to me, one to our boys, and one to his parents. I hadn’t noticed them during the chaos and my panic. They accompanied his birth certificate, passport, wallet, cellphone, and copies of various bills. From this evidence, I can only assume he never expected I would be the one to find him.

We talked often about odd people he picked up and stories on the news of Uber drivers who had been hurt. I believe he thought I would call the police to check on him before going out to the woods alone, which in hindsight is probably what I should have done.

I’m forever grateful I didn’t go out there with one of our kids.

But it hurts to think he assumed I would not search for him, that he would need various forms of ID for police to tell us he was gone. If it were reversed, he would have hunted for me, and it destroys me that he did not consider I would do the same.

After, I could not speak.

I rotted my throat with my screams for help. Crackly, gaspy sounds were all I could make for days. A bruise covering my entire upper thigh appeared the next day, visible proof of my efforts to drag his body out of our car. I caught myself staring at that bruise over the following days, trying, unsuccessfully, to convince myself there was nothing more I could have done to save him.

I have no idea how much of this is my fault.

The letters, which I was not allowed to read on-site for reasons that still baffle me, were paraphrased by the kind, on-scene chief after I begged and pleaded for some insight.

Not that it helped.

I mean, when I finally read them, word for word, days later, it did.

I understood how he got from A to Z in his mind.

Sort of.

I understood the sliver of the prism through which my husband viewed our lives and future, but I remain perplexed by his inability to recognize how distorted his theory became as it passed through this spectrum.

While he potentially fixed our financial problem, he created a million more that splintered off in bouncing, inaccurate, agonizing directions that were infinitely harder, if not impossible, to solve.

And this makes me so angry. We created three amazing boys who are all on really incredible paths, and I don’t know how I will forgive him if this knocks them off track.

Or myself.

They are this way because they had a dad who loved them so very much, who spent time with them, had conversations with them, valued their opinions. He coached all three of their hockey teams, spent years making memories together with them on the drive to and from chilly rinks.

While unemployed, he dropped them off and picked them up from school, went to the grocery store, and cooked dinners. He played video games with them, tossed a football, made huge breakfasts every weekend.

He adored them. Plain and simple.

He loved them more than anything.

Kids aren’t supposed to be your best friends, and Matt was good at not blurring those lines. He was a disciplinarian, but they secretly were his best friends.

In his letter to them, he oddly signed it “Matt and Dad.” A friend theorized it was because he truly thought of them as his friends, not just his children.

How can your dad taking his own life so that you may have a “better” future not screw you up? The night before he killed himself, we had a family movie night.

The pick, A Quiet Place, was a random selection.

Prior, Matt went to the store to buy microwave popcorn for the boys and made each of them specialized milkshakes. In the movie, at the end (spoiler alert), the dad sacrifices himself to keep his kids safe.

Our boys were upset by this, but we explained that’s the job of a parent. That either of us would do anything to keep them safe in a similar situation.

I have no idea if that triggered a plan he’d long had in the making, but the timing doesn’t make sense to me otherwise.

As dumb as it sounds, he had just received a new batch of plastic cups for his iced coffee. We’d talked about either a beach day or an amusement park for the Fourth of July and had two family vacations planned. This may have been his fallback plan, but I believe its implementation was set into action after the movie that night.

I later learned from the police that Matt rented the helium tank at 8:30 a.m. He was still alive at 1:25 p.m. when he texted me.

This tortures me.

I cannot envision the pain he was in, the courage he was trying to muster, the possible debate he was having with himself, knowing what a horrific idea this was, the damage it would inflict on all of us — but believing without his life insurance policy, our lives were doomed. He thought he ran out of road, which is nonsense.

There is always more road.

He made the choice to kill himself not because he wanted to — if we were financially stable, he would still be here. He didn’t suffer from chronic depression. He sacrificed himself so his family might, in his twisted view on that terrible day, have a chance of a more secure future financially — but a severely diminished one in all the ways that truly matter.

He believed we’d be better off without him.

He also robbed his parents of their only child.

How wrong he was.

In his letter to the boys, he wrote, “You will get past this, you will go to college, fall in love and marry and have families of your own. I hope you can forgive me and understand.”

With every fiber in me, I hope he is right, although I know that is an impossible request.

A loving, present dad is unquantifiable.


The worst moment of my life, finding my husband dead in our car, would be eclipsed by something even more horrific: having to tell our three adored sons he was gone.

The officer, who held my hand the entire ride home, dropped me off down the block, at my request, so the boys wouldn’t see the police car.

Every step I took up our driveway made my legs quake, knowing, as I got closer to our front door, that I was about to cross a line separating “before” and “after,” and nothing would ever be the same.

I have no idea how much of this is my fault.

It could be most of it. It could be if I had been kinder, more supportive, more encouraging, we would not find ourselves here.

It could be the opposite, that nothing I could have said would have swayed him off this course.

It’s all too fresh. I don’t have any answers. And maybe I never will.

All I know for certain is that I am now the solo parent to three extraordinary boys.

Boys who were shaped by a loving and exceptional father.

Complete Article HERE!