Chelle Summer

The Goal I Didn't Set: Leading the Grief Journey

Michelle Rusk

I was laying practically upside down on the chair and ottoman by my pool, of all the silly things, trying to lighten up the underside of my hair. After taking biotin for three years, I've grown a second head of hair and I've spent the summer trying to get it all into one shade of blonde with Sun-In (not that I'm having much luck).

It had been a quiet Labor Day and I was working steadily through a stack of magazines that that alluded me. I picked up my phone randomly and found a message from one of my closest friends from my early teen years that she had lost her brother to suicide recently, the second of my friends from my adolescence to lose a sibling to suicide in the past two years. 

I am reminded of the song lyric, "these are the people who raised me" about a group of friends from the singer's adolescence. These two friends of mine who have been so instrumental in my life of who I am today, of the creativity that I share, and now sharing the pain that I never would have wished upon them– or anyone.

Never could I have predicted in a million years that anyone close to me would experience something similar to what I've been through, maybe because I've met so many other sibling survivors of suicide over the years that I didn't think it would include the friends from my life when my sister was still alive, the friends who then walked that road with me, an uncharted road of loss for anyone of us.

My road takes me forward but there are still ways I'm contributing, even when I don't write about them– the suicide article I'm writing for a national magazine, the two keynote conferences talks I have coming up. And for these two friends, leading the grief journey and hoping that in some way my experiences will bring them hope that they will survive their heart break, their sadness, and know that their siblings are still with them as they continue to live their lives.