The anniversary of my dad’s death is New Year’s Day. For some reason, it wasn’t on my radar. But as New Year’s Day inched closer, I began to feel it.
On Friday, December 30, for no specific reason, I drove to the cemetery where both my dad and my sister are buried. As I began to drive away, I noticed that the song playing on the “'80s on 8” station was called “Fly High Michelle.” I thought I knew every song from the 1980s, but this one from a band called Enuff Z’Nuff was new…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
There are many people and families around the world celebrating their first holiday season following the death of a loved one. I hesitate to use the word “celebrate” because I know that it doesn’t feel like much of a celebration when someone important isn’t there.
I remember that first holiday season without my sister (and without my maternal grandmother, who died just seven months after Denise) as a time of confusion. All our family traditions were thrown out the window that…Continue
It’s evening here in Hawaii as I write this and I can see the lights of the main part of Waikiki from my balcony and hear the surf pounding the shore below me. This is my last night before I head back home to Chicago on a red eye. After several months of change, the trip came at the perfect time, giving me a chance to replenish my soul before I settle into my “new” life. But I didn’t realize that my trip would bring anything special beyond giving me some much-needed…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
Getting Ginger was one of the few times I openly defied my dad. Mom wanted a dog, he didn’t. After their bird Livvie died suddenly in August 2005, he made it clear he didn’t want to attach to anything or anyone anymore. Period. But I thought because Mom wanted a dog, she should have one, sending me to the Albuquerque shelter where an employee led me to a fat, sad-looking white Labrador Retriever whose eyes held no happiness. He had suggested this particular dog because I explained my mom…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
I have been living away from my family for seventeen years as of this month. I had wanted to leave my home state of Illinois since I was thirteen and finally managed it (thanks to graduate school) in 1994 when I moved to New Mexico. I missed weddings and baptisms. While funerals were arranged based on when I could make it into town, it didn’t occur to me in my twenties, or in my thirties (as I exit them in just a few short months), that being so far away could be a detriment to…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.
If you’ve read my first novel, The Australian Pen Pal, you know that the main character, Rachel, stumbles on a cathedral in Sydney, Australia, and buys a rosary in the gift shop. What few people know is that Rachel’s experience is based on my own foray into a cathedral two years ago when I last traveled Down Under. (To find out why the rosary is significant, you’ll have to read the book!) After the trip, the rosary sat on my desk until this past spring when I thought it was time to…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on August 8, 2011 at 2:30pm — No Comments
Often after a loss in my life, I find myself digging through my mental archives trying to remember conversations and experiences with the person who just died. And many times I am disappointed at how little I remember. I can’t remember the many discussions…Continue
My younger sister Denise and I often discussed the overuse of the word “love.” We felt that people said it too much because often they didn’t really mean that they loved someone especially when they finished a letter with “Love,” and then their name. Instead, we stuck to “Always,” before our names. At a church retreat during high school, she had to write a letter to someone so she wrote me and told me that she loved me. She said she did it because we never said we loved each other. When she…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
I believe my dad used to take great pleasure in annoying me each morning by talking to me. I would grunt back “Good Morning” on my way out of the house to go for a run, my morning coffee.
But in recent years as I’ve added four dogs to life, I’ve learned that if you have a dog, you must get used to talking to people. Or as Frank, the man whose 1961 Chevy Impala we used for my recent photo shoot said, “To have a car like this, you have to be a friendly person willing to talk to…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on July 14, 2011 at 11:00am — No Comments
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
A friend’s wife died suddenly a week ago. She was just a few years older than me and, as far as I knew, she wasn’t sick. When I called him to find out what happened, I was stunned to learn that she had an addiction, one that took its toll last weekend. He said it was something she had battled for a long time, and obviously he battled right alongside her.
This couple had an amazing love for each other, yet outwardly there was no sign of the struggle they endured…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 27, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments
This week my thoughts will be devoted to the upcoming birthday of my German Shepherd dog Daisy who died a year and a half ago. Daisy came to me as a puppy at a 5K-road race. It was the last one I attended, realizing that entrance fees would get expensive if I kept bringing stray dogs home.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, she was a very special dog, the kind of dog that we feel lucky to have in our lives. She didn’t ask for much. She wasn’t a fan of being…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 20, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments
For several weeks, I’ve been finding a coin a day. On Wednesday and Friday, I found a quarter each morning, unusual because I usually find dimes and pennies. On Friday night it was two pennies. Then Saturday morning it was another penny. While most of these were out on my walks or my run, a few of them were as I walked into a store.
After the coin Saturday morning, I realized that they were about Father’s Day. And it made me wonder, would I find a coin on Father’s Day…Continue
Added by Michelle Linn-Gust on June 19, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments