There is little we know about how families grieve over time. Although the field of grief research is growing, we have yet to explore much about family bereavement. And we know even less about what happens to military families who have suffered the death of an active duty soldier.
With the number of military deaths increasing (not just those killed in action but suicides and accidents as well), there…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on January 14, 2013 at 3:00pm — No Comments
It was all about the Barbie bathtub.
I can remember it like it was yesterday– the moment when my younger sister Denise and I found the Barbie bathtub that I was going to get for Christmas. It was in a cedar closet my dad had built in the basement. I don’t think we were…
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on December 20, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments
Over the past year I have watched my life come full circle. Some things that didn’t pan out in the years before my sister’s death, or things I lost interest in mostly because I was a busy college student, have come back into my life.
A few summers before Denise died in 1991 I had an opportunity to work at my local newspaper but it didn’t work out. Then a few months ago I…
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
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
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
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
I have this habit of doubting myself even though by now I should know better. In 2011 I found a slew of coins, but 2012 has been slow. Honestly, this is okay. While my life continues to transform before me, I realize that the coins last year I found because I needed them, because I walked through some very large changes in my life. The coins always seemed to come right before something stressful would happen. I got to a point where sometimes I worried when I found them that something bad was…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
Saturday morning I was flipping stations on Sirius radio when I discovered a conversation discussing a book about grief. Amy Welborn’s husband had died from a heart attack and she subsequently wrote, Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope.
I didn’t hear anything earth shattering in the conversation until she said that she believes this life, the one we are experiencing here on earth, is “incomplete” because we experience so much loss in this life.…Continue
I once heard Dick Clark say that we each have a soundtrack to our lives. Recently, I’ve been listening to the “'80s on the 8” station on Sirius-XM radio and letting those songs take me back in time to a different point in my life (with '80s music, that mostly means high school).
Just as songs can transport us to a different time and place, they can remind us of our loved ones and the bond we still share with them. Hearing a special song can spark memories and…Continue
When I lived with my maternal grandmother for part of my freshman year of college, each morning we walked a few blocks together before I went one way to catch the El to school and she went the other to church. She attended daily Mass as much as possible. I thought it was strange that people needed that much Mass time. Instead, I went with her only on Sundays.
But I have come to appreciate daily Mass. To me, it’s no different than having a support group for suicide loss…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