There are things I don’t think about anymore. Like my sister Denise's birthday or the anniversary of her death. I am always aware of them but I try not to put too much focus on them, especially the day she died. I prefer to use my sister's birthday as a time to remember her as a person and reflect on what she continues to mean in my life.
But Denise’s 20th…
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on November 16, 2012 at 3:00pm — No Comments
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
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
Sunday, April 1, I was asked to bring my fiction books to sell at a St. Baldrick’s Event to benefit children with cancer. A fellow high school classmate lost his daughter Brianna almost three years ago to a rare brain cancer when she was thirteen. April 1 would have been Brianna’s 16th birthday. Another high school classmate – the owner of a local pub – offered her location for the benefit. The turnout was incredible. For three hours, people had their heads shaved, enjoyed a meal…Continue
A year ago, approximately 160 people bereaved by suicide took part in a study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The eventual goal of the study is to teach computers how to read suicide risk in text. For their part, the suicide loss survivors collectively read through 1,300 suicide notes and assigned emotions to the words in the notes. Each participant completed about fifty notes…Continue
It sneaks up on me every year. I’m lost in my life when St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament jolt me into remembering that March 18 is around the corner. I think of St. Patrick’s Day 1993, the last day I saw my sister Denise, and the NCAA Tournament, where I was when she ended her life. Then it's April 4, Denise's birthday. I'm not filled with sadness; she’s with me, I know that well. Instead, this two-week period serves as a checkpoint of sorts, a time to…Continue
This year, I celebrated my birthday in Los Angeles with friends and fellow survivors of suicide loss. It was my 40th, and I had tried to make plans with various people in various parts of the country. But nothing came together until I booked a plane ticket to L.A. and announced to friends when I would be there.
I spent the evening of December 10th in Los Angeles at the Survivors After Suicide 30th Anniversary Pot Luck. Most people think that when a group of bereaved people…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
When I let the first few people read a draft of my latest book, Sisters: The Karma Twist , everyone just assumed that I was Sarah McCall (the main character). I actually work pretty hard not to allow my characters to be me. I change their hair color; I give them different…Continue
I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the original version of what would become Sisters: The Karma Twist , my latest novel.…Continue
September 4-10, 2011, is designated as National Suicide Prevention Week (www.suicidology.org) and September 10, 2011, (www.iasp.info) is World Suicide Prevention Day. Don’t miss out on your chance to learn more about how to help others. Many times we don’t know how much people are hurting until we ask. Don’t be afraid to ask because you never know when you might save a…Continue
While I believe there is a synchronicity to everything that happens, I realize that most of the time we don’t understand it while we’re standing in the thick of it. Such was the case when I met Cheryl, a fellow survivor who lost both her husband and son to suicide, who came to me with a proposal to help her create a comprehensive website on suicide and mental illness.
July 9 marks the ten-year anniversary of the release of my first book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling. I still remember waiting for the UPS truck that day with the delivery of several boxes of books. Then sitting on the steps of my back porch, a copy in hand, worried that the font on the pages was too big rather than enjoying what I’d worked seven years to produce finally in published form thanks to Jack Bolton of Bolton Press…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on July 8, 2011 at 3:33pm — No Comments
I was raised in a family where military service was praised and celebrated as part of our history. My maternal grandfather, a general practice physician, served in the South Pacific during World War II and my father spent several tours in the Navy, one during the…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 28, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments
I pulled out the blue spiral notebook where I journaled from 1991 to 1994, my Ball State University years. Tomorrow I will drive the 239 or so miles to Muncie, IN, where I did my undergraduate work in journalism. I haven’t been there in almost ten years, shortly after 9-11, when I lectured as part of the journalism department’s Professional-in-Residence series.
I’m not sure what I was looking for when I opened up the journal but it was much more painful to read than I…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on May 16, 2011 at 3:34pm — 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
From first grade forward, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Several times between first grade and high school I debated becoming a psychologist or an athletic trainer but a part of me never wavered from a writing career. In high school, I began writing my first novel, a fictional…Continue
For years, researchers were afraid to approach survivors of suicide loss. Many were afraid they might say something to upset the survivors while the survivors, standing on the other side of the divide, wanted to talk to the researchers. They wanted to offer what they could about their loved ones that might help other families avoid having to cope with the pain of the suicide loss of a loved one.
Few studies today involve survivors of suicide loss and all of these are about…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on April 8, 2011 at 4:23pm — No Comments
It’s been ten years since my book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling , was published. And it’s been eighteen years since my sister Denise walked in front of a train just two weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday during my…Continue