beyond the why of loss

It’s been 17 years since our son Rand ended his life at only 16

by Elaine Alpert, M.Ed

It was on our younger son’s ninth birthday. You likely know exactly what I mean when I say, “It was the worst day of my life … followed by many more worst days of my life.” Add to that the sleepless nights full of flashbacks … finding Rand with barely a pulse in our backyard, the police accusing us of foul play, and our hospital vigil, praying, begging for him to survive, only to be told it was too late, there was nothing they could do to save our boy.

We’ve all heard the opposite scenario, the miraculous story when someone’s life was somehow spared, despite all the odds. How they were ‘pulled from the car’ just in time by an unseen force, or mysteriously pushed to the water’s surface on their last breath. So … I demanded to know, where was Rand’s guardian angel, when we needed one most? Why didn’t anything or anyone intervene? Why did this happen to our family?

The piercing self-accusations followed

Why didn’t I see how Rand was really doing? And ultimately: Where did I fail as a mother? My husband Tom and I were filled with dozens of questions. Our son’s suicide completely blindsided us.

The totally ironic thing was that for years before Rand died, I was a national workshop leader, helping people deal with the biggest dilemmas of their lives. And now here I was, in full-blown catastrophe. I certainly had the tools—but I wasn’t ready for them. I was in utter breakdown and shock.  

In due course, something shifted internally, and I realized the price I was paying was way too high–the guilt and regret, anxiety and anger were not leaving me alone, only making me more miserable. My ‘stuff’ was affecting my relationship with my younger son who really needed me to be mom. Tom and I were grieving differently, and though we were in marriage counseling, I needed something just for me. I knew that my need to keep re-telling my story was reaching an end and the drag on my energy needed to stop. It was time to end the spiral of nagging thoughts and turn my life around … I needed a deeper dive.

I looked everywhere for a place to be with other women like me, where I didn’t have to explain what I was going through

Where I could address these issues in a context of connection, authenticity, and spirituality without dogma–but I couldn’t find it. So, by piecing together my own healing path and going back to graduate school to study trauma healing, I saw that I was creating a brave new way to deal with such a big, confounding loss.

Eventually, I invited amazing women from all over, moms who’d lost children to suicide and overdose, and other women dealing with losses of various kinds, into online programs and retreats. I founded a nonprofit to support this work, and the loving mentor since my loss, Iris Bolton–a leader in suicide prevention and aftercare for decades–joined the nonprofit board.

Fast forward to today, it is just 2 weeks before Rand’s 17th anniversary date, and I am launching my new book in his honor: Beyond the Why of Loss: A Brave New Way to Move Forward. It is my labor of love for women everywhere who are looking for a different way to live within your loss, rather than “moving on” as some say you should. Yes, there is a way to fully honor your loved one while reclaiming your own precious life. This is my sacred wish for you.

As a gift to the Emotionally Naked blog readers, you can DOWNLOAD my book for free, for a limited time.

To get your free copy of Elaine Alpert’s book go to this page.


As a dynamic group facilitator and speaker for over 25 years, Elaine leads online programs, workshops, and retreats. She also works with private clients. Elaine holds a graduate degree with specializations in Transformative Learning and Integrative Health. She wrote her thesis, ‘Fostering Resilience: Conscious Engagement with Life As It Is’ as academic groundwork for The MindPeace Method®, a proprietary program for healing after traumatic loss.

25 thoughts on “It’s been 17 years since our son Rand ended his life at only 16”

  1. I recently lost my son and his ex fiancé to homicide/suicide, it’s only been a month. We cry all the time. It’s such a horrific thing that happened. My son has a son ( 4 yo), with his ex fiancé, which only occurred a month prior to him doing what he did. He was so lost about her wanting to leave him, when he thought they were happy. She strung him along at first, saying she just needed some time away, but never told him why or for how long. He believed she was cheating on him, so he would “stalk” her, even with his son with him. On that dreadful day, he came to me with his sons car seat an told he he wanted me to pick him up from daycare and not to drop him off until she dropped my grandson’s overnight bag and that he was gonna get the truth out of her no matter what. Needless to say, after what happened, he left a video telling us he loved us and he made his decision and it will cause us all grief and to tell his son how much he loves him. He told us he knew he was going to do this when he came to me. If only I knew, I wouldn’t have let him go, that was the last time I would ever hug, hold, talk, hear, or see his beautiful face.

    1. Donna, thank you for sharing what has happened. Of course… if you had known, you would’ve done everything you could to stop him. It is so hard when we can’t control what our children did. I faced these questions too. I suggest you download my book while the link is here so when the time comes and you are able to read, it is waiting for you. I am sending you a lot of love today, for you and your whole family.

    1. Hi Kristen, hopefully you saw the link at the end of the post to get your copy. Would love to know what you think of it. (My email is in the book if you want to reach out)… Much love!

  2. Thank you for the work you do. I’m looking forward to reading your book. There are many kinds of losses a mother can go through.

  3. July 6th will mark the third year of my 23 year old sons suicide. I also found him that night. He was such a happy kid, until he turned 18…he would never go in for a diagnosis, we watched him struggle and suffer with mental illness, and alcohol addiction, until he completed. I have been stuck in my grief for so long, even before he actually left this world. I love and miss him so much, I’m physically ill from the toll it has taken on my body, CPTSD has caused severe anxiety and agoraphobia, and mentally I’m just exhausted from fighting the guilt because I could not save my son. Thank you for your book, and blog. I’m deeply sorry for your loss too.

    1. Jodi- I just want to let you know I hear you and I’m holding space in my heart for you and I think Elaine’s book will help you find a way out of the darkness. From one grieving mother to another.

  4. I was overwhelmed with the loss of miscarriages, then a sister, a brother and then my father within an 8 year period. I don’t believe I let anyone truly into my life. I know I’ve changed and grown as a result. I still want to be my best self. I’m looking for guidance and answers. I hope your book will help.
    I’m sorry for your loss and send arrows of live and peace your way.

  5. I’m very sorry for the loss of your son.

    Thank you for writing this book and helping others. My son died by suicide at 29 years old. He suffered from many episodes of Cannabis Induced Psychosis.
    Reading your book will help me and give me more tools to help others. Thanks again!

  6. This arrived at in my inbox just when I need it most. My son died of overdose one year ago and my daughter arrived on my doorstep last week suicidal and homocidal. Thank you for your work and your generous offer of the book.

  7. My youngest son, Dave, died by suicide on Sept 7, 2019 at the age of 27. 2 weeks later I had a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer. Your sentence about “a way to live within my loss” spoke to me. I need to be strong for my other son and grandkids, but I am afraid . I dont want to stop grjeving for Dave. I dont want him to be forgotten. Be was a loving, kind boy who deserved a much better life than he had with his struggle with his demons, from hjs bipolar/schizo-affective disorder. If your book can help me, I will be forever grateful. Carol

  8. This year (4th) anniversary has been particularly difficult. I greatly appreciate you sharing a perspective that I know I need, I just don’t know how to achieve. I would love to have a download. I started my grief journey trying to help as many people as I could. Now I just feel bad that I can’t even put effort into that anymore. Thank you for making the time to write about this.

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