|Sue with Dylan|
Saturday, November 19, 2016, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, and thus, we are highlighting a loss survivor’s story and her search for meaning after loss.
Sue Klebold lost her son, Dylan, on April 20, 1999. He was one of the two shooters in the Columbine Tragedy. Her grief and recovery has been a long process. She became connected to the Carson J Spencer Foundation as she started to learn more about suicide and suicide prevention. Today, she is part of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Loss & Healing Council, and a valued volunteer of the Carson J Spencer Foundation. This is her story:
I lost my son, Dylan, in a murder-suicide. He and his friend murdered 12 students and a teacher, and injured more than 20 others before taking their own lives. He was very smart, funny and well-organized. He had a great sense of humor and made me laugh.
He loved trying new foods and new experiences. I will always miss him.
Dylan taught me what it feels like to be completely proud of a child, and to understand how blind we can be to someone’s inner suffering.
I have honored his memory and the memory of those he killed by writing a book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, and donating the proceeds to brain health and suicide prevention organizations. Because of Dylan, I try to make things better for others.
My grieving process was complicated because of the murders involved. Years of grief were convoluted by lawsuits, public condemnation, and personal health problems. The loving support of friends and family helped, along with therapy, reading about suicide, journaling, drawing, exercise, and connecting with other survivors of suicide loss.
I derived meaning by learning about the suicidal mind. I began to accept that his judgment was impaired at the time of his death, and this helped me cope with the reality of his destructive behavior.
I hope he would be proud that I honor his memory by trying to improve mental health care for others. I want him to know that nothing he did could ever make me love him less than I do.
Recovery is a process. At first, we are victimized by what has happened to us. We feel devastated, confused, grief stricken, and helpless. As time goes by, we slowly move from feeling like a victim to feeling more like a survivor. We don’t know how we made it, but we want to help others who have more recent losses or who are struggling. We find that by trying to serve others, we slowly gain strength and balance. Eventually, we may become advocates, driven to make a difference in a larger sphere of influence. We see that we never have to stop loving or missing the person we lost, and we remember them with joy, honor, and gratitude.
The effects of a suicide loss are long lasting and far reaching. Many survivors seek to make meaning out of their loss and celebrate the life of their loved one. There are many wonderful organizations that provide life-saving suicide prevention programming. Carson J Spencer Foundation seeks to elevate the conversation and make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. Through a variety of prevention programs, Carson J Spencer Foundation is changing the face of suicide loss. Whether you partner with our organization, or another, we encourage you to get involved. Giving a gift, in memory of a loved one lost, helps to create the meaning that so many seek.
On December 6th, Colorado will celebrate a statewide day of giving – Colorado Gives Day. On December 6th, your gifts go further, thanks to a $1,000,000 incentive fund created by Community First Foundation and FirstBank. To schedule a Colorado Gives Day gift to the Carson J Spencer Foundation, please visit here.