Suicide and Its Unrelenting Stigma

Suicide is an earthquake. Sudden, jolting and catastrophic, it ruptures the lives of those it leaves behind. The aftershocks ripple into subsequent generations. We spend years navigating our emotional landscapes, seismically realigned by chasms of guilt, confusion and regret. We build bridges when we share our grief,

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“You Are, I Am”

Six weeks before my brother died, I had a dream. The ultra-realistic sort, where you stir swearing it happened. I’d gone to visit my sister, Lisa, in Texas. Her house had morphed into what looked like my grandmother’s old home in Ohio–a blurring of lines characteristic of

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Grieving at the Holidays

When I learned that my brother had ended his life, I stood clutching my then-4-year-old son’s hand. I crumpled to the hardwood floor outside his play room, clinging to his tiny frame like a life raft. I let out small, staccato chokes. “Get up, Mommy! You’re laughing,

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My Brother’s Keeper

I recently started blogging for the Huffington Post. My first piece published there is an essay I wrote about my brother. The essay is below, followed by a link to it on HuffPo. My brother, Jim, died by suicide on a bright day in early September, ending

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Finding God in the Depths

Earlier this year I submitted an essay I had written about my brother’s suicide to Today’s Christian Woman. The essay was originally published on May 14, 2014–the day I turned 40–in their issue on depression. It was the first time I’ve been published in a Christian outlet.

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Identity Theft

Life after a suicide is confusing. The truth gets distorted, partly by the imprecise power of our memories. It can also be twisted by people looking to make themselves feel better. Suicide is a big, messy subject. It doesn’t fit well into our comfortably westernized lives. We

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Why Suicide Isn’t a Selfish Act

In the three months since my brother took his life, I’ve heard a phrase repeated: “Suicide is cowardly. It’s a selfish act.” The words have come from my closest loved ones, others at church, and those who didn’t even know Jim. They argued that only a selfish

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Gifts My Brother Gave Me

When I graduated from college, my brother flew in early to help me move. From early evening to very early morning, we trekked between Evanston, Ill. and Chicago, zipping up and down Lake Shore Drive, his rental car loaded with my furniture, clothes and books. Jim rented

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Rarefied Air

My family and I are vacationing in Colorado, and today we climbed Pikes Peak. Our Jeep did the actual climbing. But we successfully steered the vehicle skyward, to the mountain’s 14,115-foot summit. The 19-mile drive demands a stealthy crawl in low gear, up an increasingly steep two-lane

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