Life’s That Way

As If There’s A Rule Book…

“April 11, 2004

Does anyone know where I can find a copy of the rules of thought, feeling, and behavior in these circumstances? It seems like there should be a rule book somewhere that lays out everything exactly the way one should respond to a loss like this. I’d surely like to know if I’m doing it right. Am I whining enough or too much? Am I unseemly in my occasional moments of lightheartedness? At what date and I supposed to turn off the emotion and jump back on the treadmill of normalcy? Is there a specific number of days or decades that must pass before I can do something I enjoy without feeling I’ve betrayed my dearest love? And when, oh when, am I ever really going to believe this has happened? Next time you’re in a bookstore, as if there’s a rule book.

11:54 p.m.



I’ve never gotten caught up in the notion that this turn of events isn’t “fair.”  I don’t believe in “fairness.”  Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people and all the possible permutations of those happenings, and there’s nothing fair or unfair about it – it just is.

― Jim BeaverLife’s That Way: A Memoir



Time To Be Grateful. . .Like It or Not.

It’s that time of year again. . .another holiday to reflect on our lives. In all honesty, today, I felt sad and lonely. Mostly for having very few people in my life to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with, besides my mom. There were no children running around the house, no siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Nobody fighting about who would slice the turkey. Heck, I don’t even eat meat!

Nevertheless, my mother and I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, and set the table with all the trimmings. We sat and ate, shared a few stories and  within a blink of an eye, our meal had come to an end. I excused myself from the table, still feeling somewhat depressed and wishing we could somehow miraculously multiply as a family.

Then I went downstairs to be alone and I called Michael’s mom, Susan. (For those of you who don’t know, Michael is the reason for this blog. He is the reason you are reading this right now. He is a part of my life, even after taking his own.) When I spoke to Susan, she sounded grateful. Grateful for the phone call; grateful to be remembered, grateful to know that she was loved.

Then I thought how silly I was for feeling like I was somehow cheated. Sure, I don’t have a house full of family members strewn about, mixed with all the chaos and craziness associated with the typical Thanksgiving holiday. But, who cares? Why was I comparing my life to what should be the norm? Who decides what the norm is? Does that even matter?

After talking to Susan and hearing her voice, I felt incredibly grateful. That phone call made me realize that I’m grateful for having her in my life, and the fact that she is loved.

I realized that we all have something to be grateful for. We don’t need to live in a mansion, we don’t need to drive fancy cars, we don’t need to have big families, and we don’t even need to be ecstatic about where we are in our lives. But, we’re not alone, even if we feel like we are.

One thing Michael did, that I recommend to all, was to write a gratitude list. He would write about anything and everything that he was thankful for…things like a roof over his head, food in his refrigerator, legs to walk with, and a computer to write on. . . .

So, today, I am grateful. I am grateful for have having known Michael. I’m grateful for Susan and her loving husband, Paul. I’m grateful for my tiny family. I’m grateful for being loved.  And, I’m grateful to all of you who are reading this right now.

What to Do When You Fear Someone May Take Their Life (via AFSP)

When You Fear Someone May Take Their Life

Most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions. The most effective way to prevent a friend or loved one from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors that put people at risk for suicide, take warning signs seriously and know how to respond.

Know the Facts


More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves are suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders, in particular:

Depression and the other mental disorders that may lead to suicide are — in most cases — both recognizable and treatable. Remember, depression can be lethal.

The core symptoms of major depression are a “down” or depressed mood most of the day or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed for at least two weeks, as well as:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns

  • Change in appetite or weight

  • Intense anxiety, agitation, restlessness or being slowed down

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Decreased concentration, indecisiveness or poorer memory

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, self-reproach or excessive or inappropriate guilt

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide


Between 25 and 50 percent of people who kill themselves had previously attempted suicide. Those who have made suicide attempts are at higher risk for actually taking their own lives.

Availability of means

  • In the presence of depression and other risk factors, ready access to guns and other weapons, medications or other methods of self-harm increases suicide risk.

Recognize the Imminent Dangers

The signs that most directly warn of suicide include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself

  • Looking for ways to kill oneself (weapons, pills or other means)

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

  • Has made plans or preparations for a potentially serious attempt

Other warning signs include expressions or other indications of certain intense feelings in addition to depression, in particular:

  • Insomnia

  • Intense anxiety, usually exhibited as psychic

  • pain or internal tension, as well as panic attacks

  • Feeling desperate or trapped — like there’s no way out

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Feeling there’s no reason or purpose to live

  • Rage or anger

Certain behaviors can also serve as warning signs, particularly when they are not characteristic of the person’s normal behavior. These include:

  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities

  • Engaging in violent or self-destructive behavior

  • Increasing alcohol or drug use

  • Withdrawing from friends or family

Take it Seriously

  • Fifty to 75 percent of all suicides give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.

  • Imminent signs must be taken seriously.

Be Willing to Listen

  • Start by telling the person you are concerned and give him/her examples.

  • If he/she is depressed, don’t be afraid to ask whether he/she is considering suicide, or if he/she has a particular plan or method in mind.

  • Ask if they have a therapist and are taking medication.

  • Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated. Avoid the temptation to say, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”

A hug can do so much for someone that's hurting

A hug can do so much for someone that's hurting

Seek Professional Help

  • Be actively involved in encouraging the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.

  • Individuals contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to do more.

  • Help the person find a knowledgeable mental health professional or a reputable treatment facility, and take them to the treatment.

In an Acute Crisis

  • If a friend or loved one is threatening, talking about or making plans for suicide, these are signs of an acute crisis.

  • Do not leave the person alone.

  • Remove from the vicinity any firearms, drugs or sharp objects that could be used for suicide.

  • Take the person to an emergency room or walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital.

  • If a psychiatric facility is unavailable, go to your nearest hospital or clinic.

  • If the above options are unavailable, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Follow-up on Treatment

  • Suicidal individuals are often hesitant to seek help and may need your continuing support to pursue treatment after an initial contact.

  • If medication is prescribed, make sure your friend or loved one is taking it exactly as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. Usually, alternative medications can be prescribed.

  • Frequently the first medication doesn’t work. It takes time and persistence to find the right medication(s) and therapist for the individual person.

For more information, visit

Death of Former ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Ruled as Suicide

The body of Julien Hug, ex-Bachelorette reality contestant from cycle five,  was found in a remote region of California’s San Bernardino National Forest on November 3rd.  The Riverside County coroner’s office declared Hug’s death a suicide from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

Former Bachelorette,  Jillian Harris, released a statement last Thursday saying, “I am completely heartbroken for the Hug family, and my whole heart goes out to them today as they mourn a precious life that ended far too soon. I will always remember Julien’s gentle demeanor and kind heart, which will be sadly missed.”

His father, Bertrand Hug, a succesful restaurateur in California, claimed that Julien left notes for his parents, his co-workers and his girlfriend. “He was depressed and struggling, and nobody knew,” said Bertrand.

The family is holding the funeral next Friday on November 12th at a soon to be determined location. It is open to anyone who would like to attend.

To contact the family personally, you may do so via mail at the Julien Hug Foundation, c/o of the The Village Community Presbyterian Church at 6225 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., 92067.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They are available 24/7 and your calls will remain confidential.

“Stopped or separated?” by Kirsten Shaw

What is time,
The simple, regular,
Ticking of a clock?
But in that moment,
The world surely,
Did stop?
Either we defied,
The mysterious laws,
Or greater still,
For those seconds, long,
We made reality,
Look the fool,
With even the memory,
Of trouble,
Existing no more.
How I wish,
I could linger,
In the immeasurable embrace,
Of your arms.

AFSP’s “Out of the Darkness Walks”

I’ll be joining the Peekskill Rotary’s 40th Annual Horse show on behalf of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s chapter of Westchester.  They’ll be promoting their 7th annual “out of the Darkness Walk” at Croton Point Park on October 3rd. If anyone is interested in attending or learning more about the Westchester chapter, you can find information here:AFSP Westchester

AFSP also has a site that will bring you to walks and events all over the country. These walks help to promote advocacy in suicide prevention and awareness. By participating, we are helping to save lives. Wether you have lost a loved one to suicide, have considered it yourself, or want to help AFSP in their quest to help others, this is a wonderful activity to participate in. For more information or to find a walk in your community: Out of the Darkness

A Mother’s Day Poem for Suicide Survivors

When my son died, I never hoped for joy. I could not imagine joy as part of our lives ever again,
but there is joy.
When my son was a baby, a toddler, a young child, a teenager and a young man, I watched over
him. I thought I would watch over him for my entire life. I was wrong. I hope with all my heart
that he is watching over me.
I now have the understanding I hoped for. I have peace. I finally sleep. I find joy every time I see
a tall, slim young man with sandy colored curly hair. I do not cry as often.
So there is hope. We all have a future; we have memories. No matter how long our children were

lives, we have memories. The first time I realized that joy would one day be part of
my life was the day I remembered a trick my son played on his little brother. He gave him a glass
of buttermilk instead of regular milk and pretended it was a mistake. We have laughed so many
times about this little story. I can still see the twinkle in his eye. I can hear my son and daughter
as he made up names for her to tease her. Oh, how he loved to laugh. I remember the look on his
face when I discovered the snake he put in my garden terrarium.
I know the joy I feel every time I think of my son, share a memory with someone or look at
pictures of him will never change.
My hope as a Mother is that we all will find peace and cherish the joy our children have brought
to our lives.



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