Here is a collection of thoughts, ideas and stories to help survivors of suicide loss heal.   It you have ideas for blogs that you would like us to add, or if you are interested in writing a blog entry, please send us an email

After A Suicide Loss, Remembering The Dash

posted Mar 31, 2016, 9:59 AM by SOSMADISON Support Group   [ updated Apr 9, 2016, 6:12 PM ]

While standing at the wake of our son I was approached by an old friend.  He knew how much we were struggling with our son's suicide. He began to talk about the differences in religions and customs that we all held.  We are Roman Catholic and he is Jewish.  As we spoke, he said that deep down most cultures hold funerals and burials as a way to honor the life of our loved one and to help us release them to the afterlife. 

One thing he said that day has stuck with me all of these years.  He began to talk about visiting cemeteries and looking at headstones.  He discussed how when most people go to the cemetery they look at the three most prominent features carved into the headstone:  

Our Loved One's Name
The Date of their Birth
The Date of their Death

He said we put our loved one's name on the headstone so that everyone can come and find the memorial to our loved one.  We are proud of them and we want people to remember them even after death.  By carving it into stone we leave a permanent reminder of our loved one that will stand through all weather and will outlast even the mourners who have erected the headstone. 

He then discussed the date our loved one was born.  That was a day of celebration for our family had grown and a new life, full of potential was given to us.  There were celebrations and it was likely one of the happiest day of our lives.  We took the babies footprints to remember their birth, we filed a birth certificate to give them a legal name and we took them home from the hospital to begin our lives together.

Next he talked about the date our loved one died.  It truly was one of the saddest days in our lives.  It marked the day our loved one left this world for the afterlife.  With suicides, the death is often a traumatic event for the surviving family. Different cultures remember the days that follow differently: some hold a wake, some sit shiva, some hold a funeral service, some hold a memorial service, some just cremate the remains and some follow much more fascinating traditions .   We discussed how because someone died by suicide we should not ignore the date of their death.   They have left us and depending on your faith, they truly have begun their new life in a new and glorious place surrounded by their family that had gone before them.

Finally he said, their is really a fourth item on the headstone that is far more important then the first three.  The dash.

The part of the headstone that so many people forget is the dash between the dates.  The dash represents the lifetime of memories, stories and good times that we shared with our loved one.  With a suicide it is so easy to focus on the tragic way our loved one died and let it define our loved ones life.  But by focusing on their dash and honoring their dash you better remember and define the person we lost to suicide.  There are so many good times, pictures, videos and stories to share about them.  The story of our loved ones lost to suicide is sincerely about their dash and all that they did during their time here on this planet.  Their death is just an abrupt end to their dash.

No one's life is perfect, but we can chose to remember the perfect moments we shared with our loved ones during their dash.  
Honor their dash, remember their dash and share their dash.

Years later I found out that there is also a poem by Linda Ellis called "The Dash".  The poem touches on many of the same ideas that my friend and I discussed.  One of the stanzas reads:
For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

What stood out for me was the direction the poem takes after the death of the loved one.  The final stanza of the poem reads: 
So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

Survivors of suicide loss truly know how brief life may be and the end that can come so swiftly. The suicide of our loved one was a fork in the road that most of us did not want to take, but we were forced into by their untimely death.  We do have a choice in where that road will take us by our choices and actions.  

So think about your dash and choose to share your love and good times with those around you.  They will get to share your dash with others after you are gone.  

Walk to honor your loved one

posted Mar 29, 2016, 9:08 AM by SOSMADISON Support Group   [ updated Mar 29, 2016, 9:11 AM ]
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( hosts a number of community awareness and fund raising events each year.  These are opportunities for survivors to help raise suicide awareness and help to fund suicide prevention activities in our communities.   It is a way to honor your loved one and another step in healing.  For more information go to  


  • 04/22/2016 Bergen Community College Campus Walk, Campus - Paramus, NJ
  • 04/26/2016 William Paterson University Campus Walk, Caldwell or Zanfino Plaza (TBD) - Wayne, NJ
  • 05/18/2016 Red Bank Regional HS Campus Walk, Red Bank HS - Little Silver, NJ
  • 06/04/2016 THE OVERNIGHT WALK -   - Unlike the other local community walks listed below, this is a once a year major fund raising event.  This year it is in NYC.  As you walk over 16 miles through the night, you'll feel safe and cared-for in a community where everyone supports each other. It's a place to laugh, to cry, and to heal - to honor the past and embrace a future that your work will change for the better.  Video about The Overnight Walk
  • 08/07/2016 Camden County Walk, Cooper River Park - North Park Drive - Pennsauken, New Jersey
  • 09/10/2016 Secaucus NJ Walk, Mill Creek Point Park - Secaucus, New Jersey
  • 09/17/2016 Jersey Shore Walk, Leggetts Sand Bar 217 First Ave - Manasquan (Walk on the Boardwalk), New Jersey
  • 09/17/2016 Essex County Walk, Brookdale Park - Bloomfield, New Jersey
  • 09/18/2016 North Bergen Community Walk, Braddock Park - North Bergen, New Jersey
  • 09/25/2016 Hudson River Walk, J. Grundy Pier at Exchange Place - Path Station, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • 10/02/2016 Central New Jersey Walk, Buccleuch Park - New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 10/09/2016 Northwest New Jersey Walk, Waterloo Village - Stanhope, New Jersey
  • 10/15/2016 Cumberland County Walk, Cumberland County Fair Grounds – Milvile, NJ
  • 10/16/2016 Southern New Jersey Walk, Gloucester County Inst. of Technology - Sewell, New Jersey
  • 10/23/2016 Saddle Brook Walk, Saddle River Co. Park-Otto C. Pehle Park - Saddle Brook, New Jersey
  • 10/30/2016 Hamilton NJ Walk, Veterans Park (Kuser Rd) - Hamilton, New Jersey

Why? The Glass Full of Water

posted Jul 8, 2015, 6:42 AM by SOSMADISON Support Group   [ updated Jul 8, 2015, 8:47 AM ]

The one question that most suicide survivors want an answer to is Why?  Why did my loved one end their life?  Why now?

Over 90% of people that die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.  While not all of them had sought or received treatment for these issues, many had been dealing quietly with their issues for years.  They have been carrying the burden of their struggles.  They may not have shared their burden with us , or if they did, they did not allow us to help them with their burden.

One analogy that I have heard is that their life was like a glass of water.  Everyday a little more stress or pressure is added to glass they were carrying, just like you fill a water glass.  While some is removed and some evaporates, there is always some residual water left in the glass. After a while, the glass ends up filled to the brim.  The glass is filled with a lifetime of unresolved issues and pressures that did not evaporate or go away. While we may not have seen the glass filling, it was.

Finally one last drop of water enters the glass.  It really does not matter what that last drop was, because the glass was already filled to the brim.  The glass can no longer contain all of the water and it overflows quickly.  

Many try to find a cause to blame the suicide on, a single event that they can blame for the suicide of their loved one.  Their search for "Why" is unfortunately focused on the "last drop". The cause of the sudden  overflow of the glass and the loss of their loved one is truly caused by the glass full of issues their loved one was carrying around.  All of the drops of water lead to their death, not just the "last drop".

Another away of looking at the same glass is told by this story:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question.
Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: ..."How heavy is this glass of water?"
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."

So when we go back and try to answer the question Why? It basically comes down to a glass of water.  It was too full, too heavy and they were no longer able to contain and hold it any longer.  The burden , the hopelessness and their struggle were more then they could carry.  

The last drop is not the "Why".  The "Why" is the overwhelming need to end their pain and suffering that our loved ones felt. 

Their glass was just too full...

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