I never knew what it was like to have to respond to someone who lost a loved one to suicide. After my sister died though, I found myself thrust into a life I didn’t plan or want. And as nearly twenty years have passed, I find myself asked how to respond to someone who has just learned of a suicide loss. This comes most often through Facebook from high school friends who have learned of my work. I am grateful that I can share with people how to help because there is nothing worse…Continue
It’s amazing how much I can see reflecting back on the almost two decades of life I’ve had since my sister’s suicide when I was twenty-one. But what’s even more interesting are the experiences I’ve had in the past few years, particularly since I became aware of my life changing about five years ago.
On Thursday of last week I met with a priest to discuss several things that are going on in my life. Things aren’t going badly, but…Continue
My goal when I decided to write my first book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, was to bring other sibling survivors of suicide together. I knew my siblings and I weren’t the only ones who belonged to this “group” but in those pre-Internet browsing days, I also didn’t have access to others.
On Saturday night, July 21, I had the honor, and I do mean this was an honor, to speak at The Compassionate Friends Conference…Continue
It’s hard to write about grief when you find there are a million other things you could be writing about. And that’s why this blog has been quiet for two months.
I felt the transition begin several years ago. There was a jolt inside me one day reminding me of the writer I always wanted to be. Life was telling me not to forget who I was at my core, that I didn’t want to stray too far from my original journey and wake up one day and realize what I missed out on. And…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 18, 2012 at 8:30am — No Comments
I spent the summer after my sister’s suicide doing my journalism internship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While it was a difficult summer, I wasn’t about to give up on my dream to spend time there. The internship offer came three weeks after Denise’s death and was a bright spot in an otherwise difficult time. I literally jumped up and down on the couch in my apartment after that phone call.
In the few months I was in Colorado, I…Continue
Wednesday marked Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. A year ago in this blog I embarked on what I knew would be a long road: learning to let go of what I couldn’t control. My goal was to work on something that I struggled with in daily life, a task that would make me a better person by the outcome. I still remember my friend Jennifer saying to me that if I figured out exactly how I was going to do it, to let her know. Quite honestly, at the time I didn’t know what I would…Continue
Many of us struggle with the concept of being present in the moment before us. I will be the first to admit I was a big daydreamer, especially as a high school student. My thoughts weren’t rooted in the past so much as they were focused on the future – mostly where I was going.
However, when a loved one dies, it’s often the opposite. We find ourselves riveted to the past because that’s where our loved ones were in our lives. We don’t want to be in the present…Continue
I read recently that Christmas is a time of rebirth. As one year ends and another begins, I see this as a time of reflection of where we’ve been this past year and where we’re going in 2012.
In 2011, I worked on my ability to let go. I had some rough paths to travel this past year, and a friend noted to me the other day how much he has seen me grow in this time as I navigated them. That’s not to say that I’m perfect because I’m definitely not. Today I was reminded that Lent…Continue
Two weeks ago, I moved halfway across the country, leaving Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I have lived since 1994, and returning to my hometown in the Chicago suburbs.
I have spent almost my entire adult life in Albuquerque, having come here when I was twenty-two. It was eighteen months after my sister’s death and almost a year after my maternal grandmother died. I can’t completely tell you that I understand my reasons for landing in New Mexico other than I was drawn to the…Continue
The end of a relationship, whether we are 16 or 60, can be devastating although not always for the same reasons. This morning I sat on the phone with a friend of my husband who is trudging through the breakup of what was a short marriage. It’s easy to think that we messed up and made a big mistake when something we thought would last forever doesn’t. And while I’m not standing in his shoes, what I do know is that he has an opportunity to learn from this relationship and make himself stronger…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on July 19, 2011 at 8:55am — No Comments
While I spent three years in Muncie, Ind., attending Ball State University, I never drove in the town until the past three days. And for three days, I constantly missed my turns. While I realize I don’t remember much of my last year there (following my sister’s suicide and then the death of my maternal grandmother seven months later), it was baffling to me that I consistently remembered things opposite of how they really are. This included where the bathroom is in the home of “adopted” mom…Continue
After dropping off some books at a local bookstore here in Naperville, I had about fifteen minutes with nothing to do before my next errand. I thought I would take a walk and headed over to Riverwalk. At what was once the east end of the Riverwalk, there is a fountain. Earlier that morning on my run I had found a penny and now as I walked by the fountain, I found another one. I knew that this penny belonged in the fountain although I’m not sure if someone missed when throwing it in or if it…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 14, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments
I grew up swimming in a former limestone quarry. Centennial Beach in my hometown of Naperville, Ill., had been converted from quarry to oversized recreation area in the 1930s (to celebrate the town’s centennial). Just over a mile from my childhood home, it was better than any neighborhood swimming pool because of its large size.
I wasn’t much of a swimmer in my younger years. While I had swimming lessons, I just wasn’t very strong and taking the deep water test…Continue
I was struggling with something on Saturday, debating whether or not it should remain in my life. It was one of those times where I couldn’t figure out on my own which way it should go. While I believe that faith is essential for us to trust the unknown journey ahead, I needed reassurance about something. When I went to church that evening, I asked for that help. I wasn’t sure what kind of sign I would get to let me know how to move forward but I asked anyway.
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 8, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments
The American Association of Suicidology Conference in Portland, Ore., two weeks ago was a busy time for me, to put it mildly. But it was that good kind of busy. It was nonstop talking to people, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (I wouldn’t have it any other way), as well as plenty of presidential duties. The first morning I led the plenary session with my presidential address. I officially became president that afternoon at the business meeting.
Up until the…Continue
As Lent approached, I considered something I could do for myself that would make me a better person. Growing up in a Polish Catholic family, every year in CCD we were instructed to give up something and I remember it almost always being candy.
My sister died when I was a college student. In the year following Denise’s death, my senior year, I was fortunate to have the support of the Ball State University Catholic community (it was the pastor of the church who pulled me from…Continue
For as long as I can remember, each time I’ve moved, my high school jean jacket (adorned with several patches on the sleeves) and a formal dress from a high school dance have come with me. I knew I’d never wear the jean jacket again and obviously I’ll never wear the dress again. Actually, I was able to get it on the other day but I couldn’t zip it all the way up– apparently my rib cage has expanded since I was sixteen (I should admit that it’s been over twenty years although it…Continue