Happy 26th birthday to my son in heaven

Charles would be 26 on April 26, 2021. It is easier now, almost six years later, than the birthdays were at first.

Looking back

At a time when the only thing normal in my life was the setting on my dryer, the landscape disintegrated to ashes and nothing mattered. Everything was trivial compared to my monumental loss. No problem could meet the enormity of the hole this one left me with and humility found the opportunity to move in and permanently take residence. How could I have missed a hurt so big it would drive my son to end his … Read more...

Thank you note from a teen in India

self harm safety kit artwork
Ayushree’s artwork

Many times, teens will go to google to ask a burning question. Usually, those questions are of a sensitive nature.

Ayushree is from India. She is very intelligent, cute, and very talented. It was last year when she reached out to me because she was distressed over her habit of self-harming when she was distressed. She knew it wasn’t the right way to cope but she wasn’t sure what to do to break the habit and she had distanced herself recently from a toxic friend group.

We emailed back and forth and the first thing I asked her … Read more...

Which college to choose for a child who lives with mental illness

With suicide being the number two cause of death on college campuses in the United States, you don’t need to be paying tuition at any college that doesn’t support your child’s emotional health. What you want to look for is a university that puts student wellness first and not one that simply does a one-time poster campaign during May mental health month.

What sends students to the counseling centers most often? Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. That’s because college life means increased workload, stress, less structure, and more focus on peers which can collide with learning and self-esteem issues. A young … Read more...

Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief & A Second Act

Link to the podcast website, links to other podcast platforms, and show notes.

Second Act Stories is a podcast that shares the stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding lives in a second act. Each episode examines the “before” and “after” phases of a life/career change and offers lessons learned.

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Love and let go is the antidote to insanity

We translate a lot of these terms we hear into what we think they mean.

Love and let go to one person could mean kicking a kid out of the house due to his substance misuse. Sometimes it does come to that but that isn’t the definition of the phrase.

Love and let go to another might mean simply seeking to allow a brother to experience consequences instead of loaning money as one did in the past.

When you file through the inventory of all you’ve done due to a loved one’s addiction or mental illness, it’s natural to gravitate … Read more...

The story of Charles’s little toddler cast

I’m thinking about having a memory quilt made which required a visit to the box of my son’s last belongings. Two boxes actually. It’s still hard to believe a whole 20-year life is reduced to two boxes.

My plan is to look through all the clothing to determine which shirts and pants might make good quilt pieces. I smother my face in his little blankie, his scent long gone but the softness of him still wrapped in its essence.

Visits to the boxes can be like knives to the heart, or it can feel like a link to my youngest … Read more...

Free download for teachers and school counselors. Fishbowl game

Looking for a way to create connection in the classroom? This game can help you do that. There is a version that will use 5 minutes of classroom time every time you meet and one that can be used in a broader context with faculty and students. Ideal for middle or high schools.

We know that belonging and inclusion help build a foundation of suicide prevention and this game inspires sharing and serves as an icebreaker for student relationships. This and other icebreakers, activities are used by teachers and school counselors in other schools and are included in the book, … Read more...

Grief: What to do when someone says you need to ‘move forward’

light a candle for my child

Well-meaning and sometimes insensitive people often want you to stop talking about the death of your child, sibling, spouse. Usually, because it makes them uncomfortable.

Maybe your brother is tired of you talking about your child who died ten years after the death? He feels it’s time for you to move forward and leave all that grief stuff behind you.

A cousin might suggest that you’ve gone to your support group or grief therapist after a spouse’s suicide for too long and isn’t that stalling your sprint back to “normal”? Your sister might even be annoyed that visit your child’s … Read more...

How do you get through the day?

This was a question from one of my talks at a high school from a student. So I thought I would answer it here. The young lady meant that after losing my son to suicide, how did I go on?

At first, it was so brutal I couldn’t fathom living through the pain. I would curl up in the bottom of the shower crying and banging on the walls. But I told myself that as bad as it was right then, it would never be as bad as getting the news of my son’s suicide. That part was over and … Read more...

How long should I grieve?

What’s normal? Is it a prescribed amount for loss of a child the same as the amount of time you’d need for the loss of a spouse? Is it lame to grieve an ex-spouse or a boyfriend to which you had not known long?

If you didn’t grieve as a teen when your sibling died and two years later in college you find yourself drowning in that pain of loss, does it mean you are weak? Are you awful if you don’t shed a waterfall of tears over the loss of your 90-year-old dad who had Alzheimer’s? Are you a … Read more...