RFM: Help Students Grieving a Loss by Suicide

7 Important Strategies for Educators

  • August 30, 2021

In 2015, my son Charles took his own life at age twenty during an episode of major depression and withdrawal from heroin. By 2017, I had sold my business and invested myself in suicide prevention which included a focus on postvention, the period following a death by suicide. 

To better understand this kind of tragedy and its aftermath from an educator’s point of view, I interviewed several educators, including a Colorado public school teacher who had lost a student to suicide. This teacher offered a chilling account of how her students opened … Read more...

My life is not worthless because there is sadness in it

I know there are some people who wonder how I can put one step in front of another after my son Charles’s suicide. I’m not sure how I have managed that either.

Others (I’ve heard second hand) think I just need to quit harping on the “depressing” subjects I speak about and my life would greatly improve. They think if I’d just leave all that behind I’d be skipping through a meadow singing show tunes with daisies and muffins in a basket.

Some think sadness is the stinker I need to lose. But I know denying it would only make … Read more...

Judgments and Grief

We all make them. Judgments and assumptions. And then we make those judgments and react emotionally to them. Once it swirls around in our heads marinating, we can get really angry or sad over these thoughts. 

So for example, “Jane” recently shared that she was struggling with her grief after the loss of a close buddy to suicide because she thought her friends thought she should “be over it by now.” She had not known this person but for a few months, not long enough to be so torn up about it so why was she letting it still bother … Read more...

Sam’s Soul Journey. A mother’s grief

by Lynda Harrison Hatcher

Lynda Harrison Hatcher, author of Mothering Addiction

At 2:37pm on a Friday in February, an unknown number lit my mobile screen. “Are you kidding? I’m not answering that,” I said melodically, as I weeded through a storage bin stuffed with an assortment of photos, many of them stuck together from years of moisture. Most would be hurled into the dumpster I’d reserved for the next three days. Early spring cleaning.

Seconds later, a text from the same area code – “That’s weird,” I said, then scanned the words: “Lynda, it’s Lissie. Sam’s friend. Could you please … Read more...

For my son’s birthday in heaven, I got a tattoo

by Kerry Rhodes

So if you know me, you know how much I disliked Taylor having tattoos. When he turned 18, he begged to get a cross on his chest with Frank Woolwine’s name on it. Frankie was his good friend who was killed in a car accident the year before.

I knew better than to think I would stop Taylor once he was 18, so I said let’s go with something small. He agreed and I paid for it for his birthday. If you give Taylor an inch, he could sometimes take a mile. So that one tattoo turned … Read more...

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 … Read more...

What’s life without you?

by Kiernan Gallagher, 15 years old
Published with her mother’s permission

Trigger warning: Strong emotional content and suicide method mentioned.

One I never wanted to imagine. But instead, I now live it.

They say it gets easier.

It doesn’t. And I knew that from day one. 

It’s been over a year and I still remember everything. I still feel everything.

On September 26, 2019, I didn’t go to bed until four in the morning. I woke up four hours later just to get smacked in the face — reality check, everything actually happened. I’ve never actually told anyone … 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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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...

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...