Earlier this month was Suicide Prevention Day. It’s been more than 6 years since we endured the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Madeline. Since this tragic event devastated our family’s lives, I have felt a multitude of different emotions ranging from anger, gratitude, helplessness and, of course, inconsolable sadness.
I read a blog post by Paula Stephens, “What I Wish More People Understood About Losing a Child“, which prompted me to write this. Some of the themes are similar but from my perspective in my “new normal” world.
Remembering MadelineI will always have three children. Admittedly, I’m innocently and often asked: “how many children I have?” Do I answer two or three? I don’t want to make someone feel terrible for asking such a common and innocent question. If I expand upon the reality of the situation, the conversation takes a different direction, or a real awkwardness appears. But by not acknowledging Madeline would disrespect her and not celebrate the beautiful person she is, regardless of what form she may take on
2. A part of me has died with the loss of Madeline
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t fight tremendous sadness every single day. The truth is I have days where I struggle to get out of bed and other days where I grab hold of that negative thought and refocus it in a direction that serves me well. I have days when I feel on fire with enthusiasm, and other days that I have difficulty convincing myself to take another breath. I’m still trying to figure this thing out. The good thing is I’m back talking to my psychiatrist regularly, and I’ve relented in my belief that I can figure this out on my own.
3. The Toughest Days of the Year:
Paula referred to the toughest days of the year for her are her son’s birthday and the anniversary of his passing. Paula wrote her blog post four years after the loss of Brandon. I’m a relative newbie at this, so perhaps I will gain a different perspective over time. Thus far, the toughest day for me has been Father’s Day and every day; I’m away from my boys, which represents half of the time.
4. Spare Me The Details
Madeline took her own life, and “The Maddie Project” helps bring greater awareness to teenage mental illness. Tremendous initiatives have been taken in fundraising to honour Madeline. We want to continue to honour our daughter and remember her as an incredibly spirited young woman who was selfless in her approach to people. Madeline put her energies into helping others at the sacrifice of her own needs. Please don’t ask me about the events of that tragic evening on April 10th, for I choose to remember her for all the good things about Madeline that should be celebrated.
5. That Awkward Conversation
Let’s face it; there’s nothing you can say that will make me feel better, so don’t try. I don’t mean to sound irreverent about things, for it’s just the reality of my world. The one thing you can do is help to spread the word about The Maddie Project. If we can prevent another family from having to endure what we’ve gone through, then this is why The Maddie Project is such an important legacy.
6. Grief Shouldn’t Be Quantified
One of my good friends recently lost his father. His father had led a long and healthy life to the ripe old age of ninety. My friend said he felt guilty talking to me about it and that his father’s loss was “like having the flu” compared to my loss of Maddie.
Everyone has or will at some point have to deal with their own personal tragedy. The loss of a child is probably right up there on the scale of terrible things to have to endure in life. Grieving is grieving regardless of the situation. Each situation needs to be respected and certainly shouldn’t be justified or quantified. Grief is a very personal experience and should never be compared.
7. Being Truly Grateful
Many people don’t understand where I’m coming from; I’d recently lost my daughter, and yet I’m trying to help parents dealing with a child who’s experiencing depression or other mental illnesses. If I can help, then I genuinely want to help. I want to help you have a different outcome than what we experienced. Please don’t feel guilty by accepting my offer of help because you’re helping me deal with my personal tragedy.
8. It’s OK To Embrace the Sadness
I hate the expression “Stay Strong”. By adhering to this means you’re suppressing how you’re really feeling. I noticed a lot of my boys’ friends say this often. This can manifest itself in many different ways, with many potentially negative consequences by not expressing your true sadness.
The expression should be, “Stay strong by showing you’re vulnerable, asking for help and being honest with your feelings”. This is the message to kids and parents that The Maddie Project wants to deliver.
Chris Coulter’s Bio
Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.
Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.
Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”