That Time I Was Accused Of Murder

That’s right, I was accused of murdering my fiancé after he committed suicide.

Have you ever had someone say something about you that was so false, such a clear fabrication, that it made you sick to your stomach? Has anyone ever said that you said or did something you know you didn’t, and the injustice of their lie rocks you at your core? Well, try taking that feeling and multiplying it by , oh I don’t know… murder!

Just a few hours after my fiancé, Andy, committed suicide a few feet in front of me, a person I thought was my friend said that she was upset that Andy was the only one getting any blame in this. As if I should be blamed for his impulsive suicide. Then I went on Facebook to read people’s condolence comments, and my heart dropped. I saw the word MURDER.

People were saying I killed him on his Facebook page, for everyone to see.

My family and I all sat around the dining room table trying to make sense of it. Of course, my dad and brother, being lawyers, reassured me that the evidence was all very clearly on my side and not to worry. They tried to reassure me that the detectives had ruled it a Suicide hours after and had even told his family that he took his life. They clearly didn’t think it was anything but suicide. But my heart and mind raced, how could I be accused of something so awful? I, who loved Andy more than words. Katie, the compassionate, empathetic, loving fiancée, animal lover, with a huge heart?! (I’m not saying I’m perfect, far from it. I can be stubborn and I don’t like hearing no. But I am overly empathetic and care very deeply about people and all creatures on this earth!) What had I ever done or said that would lead anyone to think I was capable of something so horrific, so ugly, so atrocious, so DESPICABLE?!

Some of the people accusing me had just been in my home. I had just talked to them about being in my wedding. They had just told me they loved me days before. They had just been at my wedding dress shopping and cried tears of joy with me for my new life to start with Andy. Now they were saying I killed him, in cold blood. How was this really happening in my quiet, peaceful, ordinary life?

My sister, bless her heart, was so upset, she was shaking. My mom and I kept reeling over every detail, every comment. We were horrified, terrified, and in disbelief. How could people be so wrong, so cruel?

Then the lies started. Insane lies, clearly designed to make me look like an evil person. Lies that I was abusive, controlling, jealous, and a fucking drug addict! It was insane, I couldn’t believe it. I had to block everyone who took part in bashing my name and assassinating my character. (They would later claim my blocking them was proof I was guilty.) I had to block people that were friends with these people since I had received threatening messages and didn’t want them knowing where I was. Every single comment was like a knife in my heart. Days after I witnessed my fiancé tragically end his life, while I was still in the throws of my PTSD and shock, every comment derailed me from my grief. I can’t lie, I can see why they latched on to their anger towards me, why they fabricated their false narrative; it was so much easier to be angry at someone than it was to miss Andy.

A few weeks after, while two friends were over checking on me, my mom came into the room and told me that detectives were on the phone. I answered and they said they’d like to meet with me and ask a few questions. My first reaction was, “okay I’m sure this is a routine follow up.” And then I started wondering if it’s more than that. I started to think maybe these people on Facebook are ACTUALLY ACCUSING ME OF MURDER. That is a terrifying feeling, to put it mildly.

A few minutes later, detectives show up at my parents’ house, where I was staying. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t showered or brushed my teeth in days. Anyone who knows me knows I wear makeup ALWAYS!! I had zero makeup on, I smelled, and my eyes were bloodshot and puffy from not sleeping and crying all day. I only got 2 hours of sleep several days in a row and wasn’t eating more than a few bites a day. I say all of this to paint the picture, I was a fucking wreck!

They sat down on the couch and basically told me that people were indeed calling them claiming I murdered him, so they had to follow up and get my story again. They asked a thousand questions. They asked for the whole timeline in order, and then they picked apart details and took it out of order, to make sure my story was consistent. Let me tell you, if you ever think of lying about a single detail to a detective, just DON’T! They will catch you up in your lie. They asked things like “so when he was chasing you outside, what happened after?” “Okay, so when you say he chased you out of the house, was he running or walking behind you? He was running, okay, are you sure? Could he have been walking.” You start to think, “shit, he was behind me so I didn’t see him run. Buuut, if he was walking he wouldn’t have caught up to me when I was running, so he must have been running.”

In times of trauma and shock, your mind goes into protective mode and blocks certain parts of the night out. I don’t even remember the sound of the shotgun. Parts of the night are clear as day (and play on loops in my mind) and parts of it are a black hole. So having to tell a detective “I don’t remember” was terrifying, but honest. They reassured me it was common to black out details after experiencing such intense trauma. I remembered they must deal with this all the time.

At some point, though I didn’t hear it at the time, they told me that the evidence all pointed to a self inflicted gun shot. They were actually very kind and they even got teary eyed at a few points of my story. But, I was being questioned for murder in my parents’ home by detectives. That was all I could focus on. After they questioned me, they went in a separate room and questioned my parents. I felt the blood drain from my face, I sat in the same spot I’d sat in for days and held on to the blanket on my lap as tightly as I could. I was being accused of MURDER. Me. I kept thinking…

Thank god I didn’t touch him after.

Thank god I just ran out of the house after it happened.

Thank god I was standing far enough away when he did it.

Just then, my sister came in the house and saw me sitting there, zoned out. She looked very worried and it was then I realized what a mess I was. All my panic rose to the surface and I felt like I couldn’t breath. She held me and told me it was going to be okay. Nothing to worry about. The detectives finished with my parents and I heard them come out of the office, saying their goodbyes and thank yous. I walked them to the door and said my goodbyes. Right as the door shut, I started hyperventilating and I collapsed on the floor. Detectives were just in my home questioning me on potential murder charges. My sister came down on the floor with me and picked me up. My parents reassured me that it was just a follow up and they clearly could see the evidence pointed to suicide. Detectives told my parents that there could be actual footage of a suicide taking place and people would claim that someone must be out of frame making them do it. I felt a little better.

“So you think they know what really happened?”

“Yes, Katie, don’t worry. They told us they had to follow up and the evidence is CLEAR you had NOTHING to do with it. They said they could see you two had a loving relationship.”

I realized they must have searched his phone and Facebook. That made me feel better but also freaked me out. Detectives were combing through my conversations with my dead fiancé to see if I might have said something nasty or urged him to hurt himself. Again, this brought relief as I thought of all the sweet texts we’d exchanged and all the love we expressed for one another, both in private and in public.

Weeks later, the case was closed and the truth prevailed. It didn’t stop people from spreading lies or slandering my name, however. Unfortunately the case closing actually stirred up anger and I received several angry messages. One was filled with profanity and was very erratic, they even claimed that I had loaded the gun (a new narrative that clearly sparked because the evidence was blaring that I wasn’t close enough to him when the shotgun went off to have done it myself). The other was quite calm and equally horrible. They now were saying that I should take responsibility for his Suicide. They acknowledged that he killed himself, mind you, but that I, being in a relationship with him, should take responsibility.

I couldn’t believe it. I could maybe understand this thought if Andy had done this in a calm, premeditated way. But he didn’t. I could maybe understand if he’d threatened it countless times and I ignored it. But he didn’t. He was drunk and blacked out. It’s not like I ever had an indication this might happen, not like he’d ever even said he was thinking of doing this. (Not to say that people that were warned are responsible in ANY WAY!! You 100% aren’t!! You can’t make anyone do something like that.) But this was an alcohol, drug, and rage fueled decision that happened in the blink of an eye. How am I responsible?! For fighting with my fiancé before? Lots of people fight! Suicide is not a normal or expected reaction to a harmless disagreement. In fact, Andy and I had had this same argument countless times. Every couple fights and argues. I was in shock all over again, it was another knife in my heart. I knew I would’ve done anything to stop Andy if I could’ve. I knew I loved him with my whole heart and treated him with love, kindness, respect, and loyalty. I know we had our issues and had difficult times in which both of us thought about breaking up. Who doesn’t after 5 years together? But we always stuck it out. We were creating a business together, getting married, we loved the shit out of each other. Andy always told me I was his favorite person and I told him he was mine.

I realized later that the girl that was supposed to be my friend, had immediately contacted everyone she could to try to twist the truth and turn people against me. She even lied and said Andy was leaving me. (I had Andy’s phone since I purchased it with my money, and it was very clear he wasn’t leaving me.) Looking back there were signs she had more than friendship feelings for Andy. Like when Andy would compliment me in front of her saying “Isn’t she the most beautiful thing? I’m so lucky to have her”, she replied… “Yes, she is. I could never compete with that.” At the time, I just comforted her and reassured her she was gorgeous. But looking back, the word “compete” should have been a red flag. But I’m not the jealous type, so I never even noticed all the red flags. One time, on a trip I planned as a surprise for Andy’s birthday, she ran out of the room crying. We were playing a game and a few times I looked over and she looked sad. When she ran out of the room, we went to check on her and she said she was sad that she didn’t have what we had. I realize now, she didn’t just want WHAT we had, she wanted what I had AND she wanted it WITH Andy. In his passing, she has tried to comfort herself by lying that he was going to leave me.

In the first few weeks, I had told everyone that was closest to me what happened that night. I wanted them to have some closure, some answered questions. (There are no answers that can make sense of suicide, I later realized). I wanted them to understand he wasn’t in his right mind. That if he’d had another moment with a clear head, he’d NEVER do this. I wanted them to know he was a kind, good person that snapped. I wanted them to know the truth. I was threatened to stop telling the story. They told me I was painting him out to be a bad person. NO! Just the opposite, I wanted them to know how out of character the WHOLE NIGHT was. Andy didn’t even do his hair that day. Anyone who knows him knows this was not like him AT ALL!

So I stopped telling the story. I didn’t use the word Suicide. I didn’t answer people when they asked how he died. I was told to “think of Andy when you post” after I simply used the phrase “what you did to yourself that night.” I re-wrote my post, to take out the phrase that upset them, and apologized. I asked what words were okay to use and said I never meant to hurt them. Meanwhile, people were calling me a murderer. While I, the only person that knew the truth, sat silent, they were posting all over his profile. It was maddening. Weeks later I realized it was crazy and I broke my silence. I spoke about it openly and honestly. I still kept details private to respect Andy’s memory (even though they shared some of those details) because I just think “what would Andy want me to do if he was here. He’d want me to tell the truth but still respect and honor him in death the way I did in life.

Some people have thanked me for telling my story, for discussing my mental health struggles openly. Others judge me and misinterpreted it. And that’s okay. I don’t do it for them. I do it because it helps me to express myself. It helps me to process everything. And I do it because I hope to help someone else. Secrecy only feeds shame, and shame can lead to depression and even suicide. I wish Andy had talked more openly about his pain, his struggles, his unresolved trauma. I hope someone reading my blog realizes that they aren’t alone, that we are connected in our suffering, not just in our celebrations or joy. I hope someone reads this and opens up about their struggles.

This photo was taken after our car accident, hence the welt on my forehead.

I have to end this blog with this thought…

Suicide doesn’t make sense. There’s no logic or rational thought behind it (unless you are Deathly ill and looking to end the suffering.) So, if you know someone that committed suicide and your thinking to yourself “this just doesn’t add up, I think someone had something to do with this”, it will NEVER ADD UP OR MAKE SENSE. Impulsive suicide is especially senseless. I can tell you, witnessing it first hand, it still doesn’t make any fucking sense to me why he thought that was his only option. I know he was out of it, but still, it makes ZERO sense.

So please, try to remember that our mind plays tricks on us and tries to make logical sense out of something illogical. It’s illogical that someone would end their life in a split second decision. It’s more logical that someone else might hurt them. And please, if you fought with someone and then they killed them self, please don’t blame yourself! There is NOTHING that anyone could say to me in a fight that would make me want to end my life. Someone that does end their life is in a very dark place and is suffering from either a mental break from reality or an ongoing mental illness. It’s not your fault. I couldn’t even make Andy watch a show I wanted to watch, so how the hell could I make him load a shotgun and end his life? I can’t. You can’t. The ONLY person responsible for suicide is the person that killed them self. But I get it that that’s a hard thing to accept. It’s hard to blame or be mad at them, they’re fucking gone. It’s easy to idealize someone after they die and think of them as perfect angels. I know I did. I refused to be mad at Andy.

My therapist kept asking me, “where’s your anger?” I said “at so-and-so and so-and-so who is accusing me of murder.” She said “okay, I understand that. It’s very hurtful and infuriating that they are doing that to you. But, are THEY also hurting? Why are they hurting? Why are you all REALLY hurting? Is it because of them, or is it because Andy’s gone and he’s left everyone this mess?” It was then that I let go of my anger and resentment for these people that lost something they cherished beyond words. In my healing, I read a book that talked about how often times people struggle with denial and as a reaction to that denial, they blame. People often assign blame after suicide and can even claim someone killed them instead of accepting it was suicide. Reading those words aloud was a huge epiphany that honestly saved me.


They simply can’t make sense of his Suicide and they are in denial about it. Realizing that and letting go of my anger, truly allowed me to focus on my grief. If you are stuck in denial, blame, or feelings of guilt, please talk to someone! It’s preventing you from grieving in a healthy way. You are stuck. If you ever want to talk, feel free to drop a comment and I’m all ears! I’ve chosen to go back to school to become a therapist so I clearly WANT to listen and help in any way I can!

To the people that have accused me of murder… I forgive you.

I wrote a letter to my accusers and I’ll post it in another blog and talk more about the power of forgiveness. Thank you for taking the time to read my journey.


Katie’s Story

My life would forever change on January 13th, 2019 when my fiance took his life in the heat of a moment, while under the influence.

Hello! My name is Katie! I am an animal lover, a nature lover, hiking enthusiast, a yogi, wedding photographer, nanny, a student to become a therapist, a bereaved fiance, Suicide loss survivor, an Ankylosing Spondylitis Warrior, and a free spirit… This is the story of my journey to health and healing.

My origins…

I was born and raised in the Sunny, hot, valley of Palm Springs. Yes, I am technically a valley girl. ( I can do the valley girl accent on command, in case you were wondering.) My parents were high school sweethearts and had my sister, my brother, and myself in their 30s. They valued kindness, family, and education above all else. We attended a nondenominational private school from 1st grade to 12th grade. Our school community was very tight knit, to say the least. I was 1 of 12 students in my graduating class. After I graduated high school, my parents and I moved up to beautiful Northern California and I got my first taste of anonymity in community college. I studied acting at first, and wanted to become an actress in the theater. However, I never desired the fame or the lifestyle that accompanied such a trade. Not that the odds of actually making it were ever in my favor. I took a few psychology classes, and found it fascinating. I was determined to switch my major to psychology and become a therapist. I was talked out of it, however, due to my lack of focus in my early years of college. I always prioritized my friendships, relationships, and life experiences over my academic accolades. That, and my free spirit and creative nature, prevented me from thriving in school in my younger years. So even though I had the passion and desire to help people through therapy, I was scared and let my “I’m not good enough” fear get in the way of pursuing my passion.

A few years in to school, I took a photography class and fell in love. I wanted to travel the world taking landscapes and photographing people. I finally felt like I found my calling, a way to feed my creative spirit while getting paid. An acquaintance of mine (later to become my best friend, Vanessa) saw my photos on Myspace (does anyone else remember the days of spending countless hours perfecting your Myspace profile?) and hired me to photograph her wedding. Along with propelling me into what would be my future career, the experience also brought many friends into my life. Two of which are my very best friends, my soul mates, my “beasties”. While doing photography on the side, I needed a full time gig. My love for working with children brought me to my work as a nanny. I went back to school and studied Early Childhood Education and became a preschool teacher. While I loved my work, I still felt something was missing.

My life with Andy…

In 2013, I met Andy on a dating app. We bonded over our love for animals, nature, the mountains, hiking, and our passion for photography. Andy lived in the Bay area and I was living in Folsom, Ca. For the first year of our relationship, we commuted and we never spent a weekend apart. A few months in to our relationship, Andy and I photographed my brother’s wedding and we realized how much we loved working together. That was when we decided to combine our photography companies, and we were off. He had the technical skills, I had the creative eye, and we both had the passion for photography. Without sounding too cheesy, we completed each other. (I know, I know, barf right?) My weaknesses were his strengths, and visa versa. We both had to sacrifice a lot in those first years, we booked photography jobs for little to no money to build our portfolio, and to buy new gear. We struggled a lot in the early days of our company, but we knew it would pay off one day. Anytime he wanted to quit, I reminded him of the reward, and anytime I wanted to quit, he reminded me that it would all be worth it in the long run. We were the dream team.

We moved in together and built a beautiful life on an acre of land. We built a beautiful home full of love and created a little family together. We rescued cats, dogs, and chickens. We made art and music and traveled out to nature as often as we could. We built each other up professionally and reached new heights together. Our relationship wasn’t perfect (no one’s is) but it was magical. Our foundation of loyalty, trust, and honesty was unlike any we’d ever experienced. We had no secrets and knew each other at our very best, and very worst. Our stubborn natures could lead to us bickering, but we always had each other’s back and loved each other more deeply than we knew was possible.

Our engagement…

In October of 2017, I planned a trip for Andy and I to Burney Falls with our friends, Tessa and Tyson. On one of the first days there, we decided to do Andy and my favorite activity; hike to a waterfall. When we arrived at the bottom of the waterfall, with sunbeams radiating down on us through a cloud filled sky, Andy got down on one knee. He asked me to help him change a lens and I bent down to help. He pulled out a blue box wrapped in a white ribbon and he said, “would you do me the honor of being stuck with me for the rest of your life?” I couldn’t believe this was ACTUALLY happening to me, the moment I waited for my whole life and with a man I loved so deeply and respected with such fierce loyalty. I thought it was a joke at first and kept saying “Are you serious? Really?” He finally said “Yes I am serious, will you marry me?” I started crying and hugged him. He said, “So is that a yes?” I laughed and said, “Yes of course I will marry you. I love you.”

I am so thankful that our friends Tessa and Tyson captured this moment for us in photographs and videos that I will forever cherish. Andy and I decided to have a 2 year engagement, a decision I will always regret. Little did I know that a little over a year, Andy would take his life and I would never have the fortune of calling him my husband.

Andy’s struggle with depression…

This is my story so I will not share his personal details, but it is important to note that Andy always struggled with anger issues and depression from unresolved childhood trauma. Andy was a passionate, outgoing, fun loving, jovial soul, but he had a darkness that would sometimes creep in to even his happiest moments. I begged him to get counseling so many times but due to a poor childhood experience with a psychologist, he refused.

Christmas 2018 was brutal for us…

In November of 2018, after years of dealing with chronic pain and failed treatments, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune disease that attacks your spine and large joints. It can cause spinal fusion and hip (SI) joint deterioration. Some people have an aggressive and progressive form of the disease that leaves them in chronic pain, and essentially crippled. While others find treatment that helps them and allows them to lead relatively normal (yet modified) lives. One day my disease got so bad that I couldn’t walk, stand up, go to the bathroom, or even get dressed by myself. Andy was an amazing caretaker (taking me to endless ER visits, trips to Napa to see my Rheumatologist, and always taking care of me when I couldn’t get out of bed or lift something heavy) and I knew he took my diagnosis just as hard as I did. We were terrified what my cureless, potentially debilitating, disease would mean for the future of my health, my life, and our company. I told Andy that I know he didn’t sign up for this and told him that if he wanted to walk away and find a healthy partner that he wouldn’t have to take care of, I completely understood. He sent me a text that read: “I just want you to know that I would never leave you because of a sickness. So don’t feel like I’m gonna run just because shit gets hard.”

As if my diagnosis wasn’t stressful enough, in December, our beloved dog, Symba, of only 5.5 years, became extremely ill. He stopped eating and withered away before our eyes. He started having neurological issues, was having seizures, and eventually had a stroke. We took him to countless vet visits and drained our bank accounts in a desperate attempt to find answers that would return him to the healthy loving dog he was just months before. After weeks of watching him suffer and trying to get him to eat, we started to realize it might be his time. After a very awful stroke, we had to put him down. It was heartbreaking for us. We once again bonded in our loving of him and our deep missing of him. We both said it felt as if a piece of us, a huge part of our family, had died. Andy told me that drinking helped ease his pain, a cry of depression I wish I had heard more clearly. He started withdrawing from social situations (feigning the flu to avoid meetings and family gatherings) and even began drinking on weekdays, something that was very out of his character.

The night I will never forget…

On January 13th, 2019, we decided to have someone over that we thought was a friend (she unfortunately turned out to be the opposite of a friend to Andy and I, and betrayed us in a very cruel way). Andy had said that he had already had several beers when she arrived and told us to take shots. We all took a few shots for Symba, our dog, and we quickly noticed Andy was acting very strange. Andy had taken a pain pill and was extremely intoxicated (according to what I witnessed which was also later confirmed by the toxicology report) and we kept asking Andy what was going on with him. We jokingly asked Andy what he was on and kept saying “what has gotten into you tonight?” Even when Andy drank, he typically had a reserved nature, he didn’t like to be out of control. But that night, he seemed uncharacteristically and euphorically happy.

The moment we were alone, however, something snapped in him and he went from the happiest I have ever seen him, to the angriest I have ever seen anyone. I still want to keep parts of that night private, out of respect for Andy’s memory, but he was filled with a rage I had never seen. It was beyond terrifying and disorienting. I looked into his eyes and it was as if he was gone, a temporary break in reality. In the heat of a moment, after an outburst of rage, Andy took his life. He ended his life with his shotgun, right in front of me. I know that if he had one more second to think with a clear head, he never would have done that. I’ll never know if it was his depression, the sleepless nights leading up to that night, if he blacked out from being under the influence, or quite possibly a terrible combination of all the above, that lead to his impulsive act.

I can’t explain to you the horror of that night and I don’t wish to. I will simply say that I will never again take for granted the fragility of life. I will never be able to unsee what I saw and unfortunately I am now left with my PTSD to deal with. Suicide is a beast all of it’s own. It destroys everyone it touches for a time and it rips people apart. The hardest part of suicide is the placement of anger and blame. So many people want to find someone else to blame. After all, the person responsible is now gone. How can you blame someone that you miss with every fiber of your being? It’s all too common for people to lash out to those closest to those that are gone and try to assign blame. Unfortunately when the act is as impulsive as Andy’s suicide was, there is no way to have seen it coming and therefore no way to prevent it. If you are dealing with suicide loss, I beg you to not blame yourself or others. I beg you to take time to heal and surround yourself with positive people that offer a helping hand. Please avoid toxic people that want to latch on the drama, my therapist calls them crisis seekers. (It was so crazy to see people that had only hung out with Andy a handful of times suddenly insert themselves in the situation as if they were family, they loved the attention and sympathy they received.)

I miss Andy more than words as I know so many of us do. His death has touched the lives of SO MANY. I wish he could see how deeply he was loved by myself, my family, his family, our friends, and so many people he came into contact with over the years.

This is my story of hope, healing, and my journey to health after the most tragic loss I have ever experienced. I have seen the darkest of days and because I have an amazing support system, I have been able to find tiny rays of light in the most difficult times. A lot of times, I am not okay, and that’s okay. At times, I don’t want to get out of bed and can’t even check emails because of overwhelming anxiety. But some days, I go out and have a laugh with my family and my friends, and those days make the hard days worth it. There is always another day and a light that can shine through the darkness.

Through therapy, EMDR treatment, meditation, exercise, and lots of soul searching, I am healing my heart and finding hope for the future. Thank you for reading about my journey. I hope to offer hope to anyone going through something similar. Or even to offer solidarity so we realize we aren’t alone in our suffering. I have always valued my “wealth” on the quality of my connections with those I hold dearest, so why not use this blog as a means to connect to even more people. Stay tuned for more of my journey…

10 Coping Skills to Heal Your Heart After Suicide Loss

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen
Photo of my fiance and I we had taken for our photography website.

Just 10 months ago, I witnessed my fiance’s suicide by shotgun. To say the pain was practically unbearable, is the understatement of the century. Witnessing such horrors, and watching my love die right in front of me, forever changed me. It rips your soul apart and you literally have to learn how to put the pieces back together. I started this blog because in the early days of my grief, I desperately searched for someone who had experienced what I had. I needed to know I would be okay. I googled “witnessing a suicide” and other such phrases, desperate to know I wasn’t alone and to know there was hope. I found a blog of a woman who had lost her husband to suicide and finally, I found a message of hope. Someone telling me they survived this and are okay. I have poured my time and energy into healing and it is because of a few strategies that I am able to say only 10.5 months later, I am okay. Not perfect, mind you, but I am okay. Here are the 10 coping skills that saved me from my suicide grief.

1. Lean Into Your Support System

In the early days, you will be in a fog. That is understandable and necessary for you to go through. Think about it like this… your brain is working double time to process what just happened, to accept the reality of this tragedy you are now faced with and it can’t take any extra input. We can’t process that we will never see their face again, never talk to them again, never again be held by them. Our mind isn’t prepared for this new reality and so all it’s energy goes to trying to process it. Allow your mind to heal itself in these early days by leaning on your support system to help out.

The whole first 1-2 weeks after my fiance took his life, I was in such a thick fog! I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, had to actively force myself to just get from the bed to the couch, and hopefully at some point to the shower. My family cooked for me and took care of all of the logistics I couldn’t even process were necessary. They moved me out of my house my fiance and I shared, figured out which bills might be due, made sure I bathed, made sure I was fed, made sure I was never alone, and so much more. I hated feeling like a nuisance to them but I knew if I didn’t take the help, I would be swallowed whole by my depression. You aren’t weak for taking time off work, taking time to heal, and allowing your support system to step in. In fact, it takes courage to admit you need this! ASK FOR HELP! Trust me, they hate feeling helpless and they probably want to help!! Let them, it will make them and you feel better.

2. Talk About Your Loved One Often and Realistically

It is natural to talk about your loved one as a saint in the beginning. Everyone is different and this stage might be longer for you. But it is important to remember all of them, the good, the bad, and the beautiful parts. After all, no one is perfect. Let’s face it, most people that take their own life have deep rooted demons they always struggled with. I was in such denial for the first two weeks. I explained it away that he was under the influence and always very impulsive. And while that is true, my fiance also suffered from depression, unresolved childhood trauma, anger issues, and a myriad of things that can be per-determinants for suicide. Allow yourself the time to view them as a saint, but within a few months, you should be allowing yourself to accept the reality of all the things that made them wonderful, and human, which includes their flaws. Idealizing the dead is not healthy for you or their memory.

But I do strongly believe you should talk about them. Tell stories of them, the fun stories, the hard stories, when something reminds you of them, talk about it. Pushing these memories or feelings down won’t serve you or those around you. I won’t tell you when you should be ready for this, but I would say if it has been a year, and you can’t talk about them, it is probably time to talk to a professional and work through these feelings. Everyone processes things differently so if you aren’t ready, don’t force it and DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF. It’s okay to not be okay!

Photo taken by yours truly

3. Don’t Become a Slave to Obsessive Thoughts

“How could this happen to ME?” “How could he do this to ME?” “How could his family mistreat me when all I ever did was love and support him?” “Why don’t my friends and family get how hard this is?”

You are allowed these thoughts and feelings! Actually, no. You are ENTITLED to them. It does fucking suck this happened to you. It isn’t fucking fair you are in this situation. Feel it, think it, and then let it go. I just wrote a blog about how beneficial meditation and mindfulness can be for this, so I won’t go into as much detail about this… but set a timer… feel those feelings, and then let them go. There is a reason why studies show resilient people have several traits in common, and a positive outlook and accepting that life isn’t fair is among them. Does that mean you should never think, “this isn’t fair, I deserve better than this, he deserved better than this”? NO! It just means you don’t obsess over these thoughts and let them consume you. Don’t let the anger fester in you. Accept that this is just the way it is. While it sucks, while it hurts like you didn’t know it could, it is the way it is and being angry or letting obsessive thoughts fester, won’t serve your future happiness. And you deserve happiness. You might not feel like you do right now, but you DO. Unless you are a cold-hearted, murderous, wretch, you deserve happiness.

And I will tell you right now, if anyone is blaming you, you are not at fault and you are not alone. People want a scapegoat. They need to blame someone, anyone other than their loved one that is now gone. You are an easy target. Maybe they say you drove them to it, or maybe they even say you did it. It feels so personal, right? How could they think of you that way? How could they think you are a monster? Guess what, it isn’t personal. It isn’t about you AT ALL! They are hurting and trying to find logic in an illogical situation. Their brain can’t accept their son, brother, or grandson would take his own life. So, you must have done something. Don’t become obsessed with their actions, words, or feelings. Expunge your life of this toxicity. Delete them from Facebook. Block them on all social media. Block them from texting or calling. Protect yourself and don’t get caught up in the obsessive thoughts that come with their hate or anger. Free yourself from it by surrounding yourself with positive people and finding things to be grateful for. Which leads me to my next tool…

4. Practice Gratitude

Now, some of you might want to slap me in the face for saying, “be grateful” and I get it. You might not be ready to find things to be grateful for, especially if you are weeks in to your grief. But at some point, you do need to try to find even one or two things you have that you are grateful for.

Days after it happened, my family said “I am so grateful that you didn’t die too, he could’ve killed you and then himself. Aren’t you grateful for that?” I found this strange in the beginning. I said, “It’s not like I would’ve known if I died, so it doesn’t matter. And honestly, this would be so much easier if I had.” That is how much I cared about anything to be grateful for, even my own life. That is a normal stage of this. But 2 weeks later, I knew what they meant. I saw each experience in my life as a GIFT. I saw a hug from my sister as such a blessing. After all, she could die tomorrow. I could die today. Witnessing death made me all too aware of how fragile life is and what a GIFT each day is. I lie awake at night, when stress creeps in, and I repeat all that I am grateful for. It has transformed my attitude and re framed everything in a more positive light. It’s as easy as thinking of three people, an animal, a job, an experience, a place, anything you have that you are thankful for having. I wish I had practiced more gratitude for my life with my fiance, and even though I did always tell him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him, I wish I had shown him more gratitude. So feel gratitude and express it openly. Thank people more for their love, tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life.

5. Find Time for Self-Care

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you practice self-care. This can be as easy as taking a bath, taking a walk, exercising, reading a book… anything that makes you feel at peace and brightens your mood. You cannot heal if you don’t actively take steps to care of YOU. Take a trip you’ve been meaning to take, go to that restaurant you wanted to try for so long. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? And if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t ever offer anything to anyone else. And hopefully, you are lucky enough to be like me where you don’t have to give anything to anyone else for awhile. But if you have kids, you can’t take care of them if you are not taking care of yourself. You cannot pull water from an empty well. Put yourself as a priority for 10 minutes a day to an hour a day. Put the kids to bed, get a bath going, light some candles, and take some time for yourself.

6. Question Yourself… “Is this helping me, or is it hurting me?”

“I can’t stop going on Facebook and reading their comments, how are they calling ME a murderer?”

“I can’t stop looking at his photos and crying my eyes out.”

Ask yourself every time you do anything (this is helpful in all aspects of life. really) does this help me or hurt me? I thought I needed to see everything they were saying about me on social media, to know every lie and threat they posted. But guess what, all it did was hurt me. All it did was lead to obsessive thoughts and hurt my heart. So I stopped. It took several weeks (and even months later I caught myself texting friends about what was being said) but I finally stopped. I realized it only hurt me. So, if looking at the pictures makes you happy and you smile with tears in your eyes, look at the pictures. If reading people’s comments of condolence helps you, do it. If it hurts you, don’t.

7. Talk it Out

I highly recommend you talk to a professional to work through your emotions as they come. I came to so many realizations during therapy that changed me so much. I realized I wasn’t allowing anger at Andy at all, but instead I had projected it onto all of the people that accused me or said hurtful things on social media. Did they deserve some anger, yeah. What they did was wrong and cruel. But who really deserves the most anger, the only one truly responsible… my fiance. Talking things out, recognizing patterns, being aware of your emotions, they will only help you process your grief in the healthiest way possible. Take your time, but I personally believe don’t wait longer than a year to talk to them. If you don’t like the first therapist, try a different one. There are so many different personalities, clinical approaches, methods, and just overall vibes when it comes to a therapist. So don’t give up if you don’t like the first one you go to. In the wise words of my therapist friend, Billy, “if you walk in that door thinking therapy won’t work for you, guess what? It won’t. You have to be willing to do the work required for it to work.”

Therapy does require introspection and deep diving into your self, but the rewards far outweigh the struggle. Only you know when you are ready. But I promise you, when you are ready, when you find the right therapist, when you put in the work, you will benefit from it immensely.

8. Find Positive and Meaningful Ways to Honor and Celebrate Them

October 4th was the day that my fiance and I were supposed to be married. I could have stayed home that day, stayed in my sweats, and cried into a bowl of ice cream. I can’t lie, drinking mimosas and eating ice cream sounded tempting. But instead, my friends & family and I packed our bags and headed to my fiance and my favorite place: Yosemite. On October 4th, we hiked a 6 mile steep hike and I felt so accomplished going as far as I did. At the top, I sat and meditated. I said my goodbyes to my love as I sat on a rock and cried. I cried tears of joy, love, and gratitude for all the time we had together. The next day, we planted a Pine tree (we loved Pine trees so much we were going to change our last name to Pine) in his honor and we all cried a few tears, but we all felt a shift in us afterward. It felt like the closing of a chapter and the start of a new page. It was such a beautiful feeling. To honor him in a meaningful way, felt like such a celebration of his life, rather than just looking at the loss, we focused on new growth. We focused on his love for nature and the parts of him that enriched our lives so very much.

I suggest you find anything that is special to you, anything of meaning that celebrates them and honors them in the best way possible. Spread their ashes, light a lantern and watch it float away, name a star, anything special to you and to them.

9. Have Self-Compassion

Please, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Resist the urge to dwell in the sorrow because you think you shouldn’t be happy. Resist the urge to judge yourself in any way. One day, you can be okay, and the next you aren’t. There is no road map, no reason to why each day is so different. Be kind to yourself. On days you aren’t okay, accept it for what it is. The more you say, “what is wrong with me, I should be ____” the more terrible you will make yourself feel. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s been two years and you can’t get out of bed, you don’t want to live anymore, and you know something is really wrong, reach out to a family member or a professional for help! You know when you are in serious need of help. But even then, be compassionate to yourself. Know that you aren’t weak and there isn’t something WRONG with you, you just need a little extra help right now. Have grace for yourself and take it at your own pace. Don’t let anyone guilt you for grieving in your way or not “moving on” fast enough. (How I hate that term by the way. We never “move on”, we just move forward!)

10. Turn Tragedy Into Purpose

If you take this and decide to let it sink you, it most certainly will. But if you decide to take this and use it for a means of growth and change, you will find so much more happiness. Maybe that is by joining a support group and finding one person in need to reach out to and offer your support. Maybe that is by doing something epic like creating a company like Annie’s Kindness Blankets. Three daughters lost their beautiful and kind Mom, Annie, to suicide and decided to spread their Mom’s love and kindness by sending blankets to people who were in need of a little extra love.

I personally have decided to do what I wanted to do since college but was too afraid to do, I decided to go back to college to become a therapist. I hope to help others with their grief and hopefully prevent someone like my fiance from taking their life.

But your positive outcome doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture like creating a charity (major hats off to those girls) or something like a change in your career. It could be a commitment to do an activity you two enjoyed together. It could be volunteering at a suicide prevention hotline. There are so many things you can do to make the loss not feel in vain.

Look, I will never be grateful for what happened. I will never look at Andy’s death as anything but a tragic horrible accident that should have never been. Oh, and side note, don’t EVER tell a suicide loss survivor (or anyone grieving in my opinion) that everything happens for a reason. There is no “reason” that makes Andy’s death acceptable. NONE. But I will always find the bright side of my circumstances, and you can too. If you read this blog it is likely because your heart was broken into a million pieces by grief. You lose more parts of your heart each day as reminders of the loss punch you in the gut. You have seen dark days where you probably didn’t care if you saw another day. But there is ALWAYS another day, another laugh, another beautiful sunset, another adventure, another reason to live. And guess what… because of the loss and the tragedy you have experienced, when you are ready, the shiny moments of life will feel so much brighter. Seeing the darkest of the dark, will make the bright moments that much more radiant. Your heart will expand in infinite ways. You will no longer think, “gosh I wonder what that person who lost someone is going through.” You will be able to tap into your well of experience and feel what they are feeling and therefor be a far more compassionate and empathetic person.

There’s a book called, “Bearing the Unbearable” by Joanne Cacciatore and she explains this so perfectly:

“To fully inhabit grief is to hold the contradictions of the great mystery that loss shatters us and we become whole. Grief empties us and we are filled with emotion. Fear paralyzes us and we lend courage to another. We mourn our beloved’s absence and we invoke their presence. We cease to exist as we once were and we become more fully human. We know the darkest of all nights and in so doing can bring the light of our loved ones into the world. We are the paradox. We are the bearers of the unbearable.”

Bearing the Unbearable

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Be kind. Be kind to yourself and others.

Healing Suicide Grief Through Mindful Meditation

“How could he do this to me? How could he leave me? Leave us? Why did he take his life when there was so much good in it? How could he leave me with these bills to pay by myself? How could his family accuse me of having something to do with it? How could my friends turn on me when I need them most? Why don’t people understand it’s so much more painful that he took his own life? It’s not like he had cancer and he passed away, he chose to leave this world! Was I to blame in some way? What could I have done differently? Why did I have to start a fight?”

Sound familiar? Suicide grief is so unique from other types of grief. The unanswered questions are maddening. Your mind reels and reels, turning over the same painful questions that you’ll never get answers to. It’s a vicious loop, a non stop Ferris wheel in your mind. The guilt, the shame, the need to understand the WHY, they are endless and all consuming.

How do you get off the Ferris Wheel and free your mind?


Meditation and mindfulness are extremely powerful tools at your disposal!

“I’m not a Buddhist Monk, for goodness sake. Mindfulness and meditation are just a new-age trend for people to sound and feel superior or ‘enlightened’. It’s not for me.”

I get it! I really do! I know it sounds silly and at times it might feel silly. But it isn’t a new-age trend, people have been meditating since 1500 BCE. There have been countless studies as to the effects of mediation and guess what, it’s all positive. It is proven to reduce stress, elevate your mood, calm your anxiety, improve your self compassion and compassion for others, and so much more.

It can be as easy as setting a timer to allow yourself to feel the guilt, ask the questions, and reel in your mind. Then, when the timer is done, to let go of those thoughts and think of things you have to be thankful for. The most powerful thing I have found to be helpful from meditation, is freedom from toxic and racing thoughts. Those thoughts still come to me, but I am able to let them pass instead of obsessing for hours. I never noticed how obsessive my mind is. How stuck on a thought or a feeling I can become. How that thought and feeling trickles into everything I do. How the anxiety builds and manifests in my life.

“But where do I start? There’s so much information out there, it’s overwhelming!”

Start by downloading a meditation app. I love Headspace, Calm, Oak, and Meditation. Or you can search youtube for tutorials. There are so many types of meditation, so please, don’t be discouraged if you try a method and you don’t like it. There is Mindfullness meditation (I would start here), Spiritual meditation, Mantra meditation, Focused meditation, Movement meditation (as easy as a hike or yoga), and Transcendental meditation.

Here are some of the techniques of meditation I have enjoyed:

Body Scanning. This is where you set your attention on your body, freeing it from other thoughts.

Breath-Awareness. Pretty self explanatory, you focus on your breath and let thoughts come and go as you do.

Loving-Kindness. Sending loving feelings towards yourself and others. This can include forgiveness, a tool I have found very useful in forgiving my accusers and letting go of toxic feelings of anger.

Mantra Focus. You can repeat a phrase with meaning such as: “I am enough. I am doing my best and my best is good enough. Tomorrow, my best will be even better.” Or you can repeat a one word mantra without meaning such as: “shanti”. I particularly enjoy the Mantra series on the Oak App. It’s only $6 and SO worth it.

I know, you think you can’t possibly free your mind from thoughts, you’ll never be good at meditation because your mind is too busy. You are in the majority there. I have personally never meditated without a thought on my mind for longer than a few seconds. The point isn’t to free your mind from thought, to sit with an empty mind for hours. Unless you practice daily for YEARS, you likely won’t ever achieve that. The point is to learn to acknowledge your thoughts as they come and allow them to pass, judgement free. Te be in control of them.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been meditating and I think “Oh shoot, I have to pay that bill.” The key is to learn that it’s natural to have these thoughts, to not judge them as they come, and to realize you can let them go.

Let it go. Let it go.

Those aren’t just silly lyrics to a popular children’s movie. They are a mantra I want you to say to yourself when your thoughts become obsessive. View these thoughts as a river, allow the thought to pass down the water as new thoughts take their place. Imagine them as a cloud passing by. As a rock tumbling down a hillside. View them as anything you want, anything that comes and goes, anything you can view as letting it pass you by.

I hear a lot of people suffering from suicide grief say things like “stop telling me to move on”, “don’t tell me to look on the bright side”, “I can’t stop asking WHY”. I get it. You are allowed these feelings, thoughts, frustrations. But set a timer, feel it, and then let it go. There is a reason why people with a positive outlook are more resilient! Being positive doesn’t mean you never think “this isn’t fair, it’s bullshit.” But it does mean you let that feeling go when you replace that thought with, “I am so thankful for the time I had with them” or, “I am so thankful for all my support and all the people that love me.”

Spend 5 minutes meditating the first time you try it. Then, you can try 7 minutes next time. I have been meditating on and off for years and I am finally up to meditating for 30 minutes or so. If you think you are too busy, remember you are already busy thinking, why not just reshape the way you think?

“If you don’t have time to meditate for 5 minutes, then you should meditate for an hour.”

An old Zen saying that has been loosely translated.

I suggest you start with guided meditation to keep your mind on track and to learn the various techniques, but you might Eventually prefer meditating on your own.

Beyond just learning to be aware of your thoughts, meditation can help improve your overall happiness. Being aware of my inner voice has been life changing. They say “you are your own worst critic” for a reason. We say terrible things to ourselves, things we wouldn’t let a stranger say to us. It has also improved my overall happiness. Meditation has taught me that I used to allow my “happiness” to be determined by outside sources. “If only I can get that job, then I’ll be happy.” “If only I can buy that house, then I will be happy.” We say this to ourselves subconsciously every day. But it simply isn’t true. Happiness can only come from within and it can only come if you have self love and self compassion. It can only be broadened by compassion for others and forgiveness. It can only come to those who are self aware and in tune with their inner self.

The benefits of meditation, focusing your thoughts, self compassion, self awareness, and forgiveness are endless and beyond rewarding. I challenge you to try it. I challenge you to give it a go.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read my blog. Be kind. Be kind to yourself and others! Have a great day!

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

Quote from Anonymous on Headspace.

My Wedding Vows That Became Your Eulogy


My love. My confidant. My best friend. My partner in all things. You were one of the most caring and best people I’ve known. My favorite person. You were an artist, a musician, and an eternal student, always wanting to learn more. You are my love, my light, my reason. You were my partner, my nurse, my mechanic, my shoulder to cry on. You tucked me in to bed every single night when you couldn’t come to bed with me, knowing I needed that last bit of love from you before I drifted to sleep. You sent me to work with love every morning by saying, “drive safe my love. I appreciate everything you do for us.”

The day I met you, my life turned upside down. It started to make sense and the pieces started to fall into place. You made me whole and you made my future something to look forward to. You pushed me to grow and learn and never settle. You never settled for anything and you pushed yourself to always be better. I wish you could have seen yourself the way I see you. You were never satisfied with a photograph or a song you played but I just saw your brilliance and tried to make you see it too. You never sat still and if things needed to be done, you were up doing it before I could ask.

Your creative and passionate spirit filled my life and those around you with so much joy. Your sense of humor is what I’ll miss the most. Your ability to make me laugh when I cried and your ability to turn anything into a laugh, it’s my favorite thing about you. Your dirty jokes and your timing, were always on point. Your quick wit never ceased to amaze me. Your love and empathy for others was beyond compare. You had so much compassion for others, you wanted to help every person who was hurt and wanted to give food to every homeless person you saw. You held the door for every one behind you, even though you’d get mad they didn’t say thank you. You fed all the birds in our neighborhood and even convinced me to get chickens, so you could give them a better life.

Your ability to make people feel comfortable, your ability to connect with anyone you met, was beyond my understanding. I would watch in awe as your charisma could smooth over a tough situation and would attract complete strangers to you. You could talk to contractors about tile; talk to mechanics about tuning cars; talk to musicians about guitars; and talk to pest control people about the mating patterns of a species of insect. Your knowledge and your intelligence was something I always admired about you.

The first time I saw your face was on the screen of my phone. Your message to me was so different from anything I’d received. You talked of adventures and nature and I remember thinking that even from this little message on a dating app, your passion for life was infectious. I was hooked. You called me and I was instantly taken by your sense of humor. The first time we talked, we talked on the phone for 3 hours. We discussed music, photography, nature, religion, spirituality, and our favorite trips. You made me laugh and gave me such butterflies.

Our first date was so amazing and so us. Of course I was late, and you almost thought I bailed. We started at Burgers and Brew, and I quickly realized ordering a messy portabella burger was the worst idea. We talked for 2 hours and then you said we should drive somewhere fun. You got a kick out of driving so fast onto the freeway that my head actually went back into my headrest. I’ll never forget that laugh you had when you surprised someone and that look of thrill in your eyes when you drove. I led us to the river and we talked by the water for another hour. You wouldn’t sit on the rocks because you said there was bird poop. We kissed by the water and you said “what should we do next?” I was out of charming ideas in Sacramento so we drove to my parents’ gated community and we sat by the pond. Well I sat and you said you didn’t want to because you were certain there was bird poop. I thought, “this guy is really cautious of bird poop.” Little did I know you were cautious of everything. We walked to the tennis courts and laid in each other’s arms, staring at the stars. We talked about our hopes and dreams and I couldn’t believe how much we had in common. We have the same birthday for goodness sake! When we got too cold, we went in your car and talked some more. Our first date was about 8 hours long and I still wanted more. I told my Mom that you were something special. I said I thought that this was something real. We talked on the phone for 2-4 hours every day after that.

Our next date, I had you to my parent’s house while they were gone and I cooked you dinner. After dinner, we sat by the fire outside and talked while we were in each other’s arms. At the end of the night, you said “You are so beautiful, I have to make you mine. Will you be mine?” I said, “yes” and my heart sang.

It was only 2 weeks or so when I knew I loved you but I waited a month in to tell you. And that was it… I was yours and you were mine.

You asked me to marry you at the bottom of a waterfall and I said, “yes”. I cried with joy and felt so lucky to have you! I wish you could have seen me in my dress and I could see you at the end of the aisle. I wish I got to be your wife.

What can I say other than you were my light, my love, my reason, my person, my everything. You always said life was unfair and let me just say again what I said to you at least once a day, “you are right.” Life is cruel and unfair and you should be here. I’m lost and empty without you.

You may be gone but you are with me always. Anytime I see a pretty landscape, you are with me. Anytime I see a fox or pretty wildlife, there you are. Anytime I check my light in my camera, you are over my shoulder, guiding me. At a pretty sunset, there you are. When a bird gracefully lands on a branch nearby, there you are. When I hear a waterfall cascading down onto rocks, there you are. When the light comes on my car dash, there you are reminding me to change my oil. When I doubt myself, there you are reminding me I can do it. You always said I was strong and I don’t feel strong right now, but I am trying to be strong for you and for myself. Anytime I am hurt by someone’s words or actions, there you are, cheering me on and telling me to take the high road. Every decision I’ve made the last few days, I think, what would Andy tell me to do. You will always be with me in my thoughts, in my heart, in my soul. You were my person and I was yours. You live on in our memories, in our photographs, in our hearts, and in our adventures yet to come.

I don’t know how to live without you but I know you’d want me to live my life to the fullest. I don’t see much light left in the world but I know you’d want me to find the light. And not just A light, but the BEST light. I know you’d want me to go on adventures and explore the world with you in my heart.

I was so excited to marry you, I already wrote my vows. I couldn’t wait to tell the world what you meant to me. I couldn’t wait to be your wife. I couldn’t wait to have adventures as husband and wife. I wanted to shout from the mountains that you are mine and I am yours. And I’m so thankful I had you when I did. I already wrote my vows to you and while I won’t have the chance to say them at our wedding, I promise to keep them anyway.

I vow to cherish you always, even though death has parted us. I vow to push myself to do better in the way only you could. I vow to always love my family the fierce way you did. I vow to be kind to strangers the way you were. I vow to keep a flashlight, gloves, and a first aid kit in my car at ALL times. I vow to use energy efficient LED light bulbs. I vow to feed birds when I can and learn some of their names. I vow to watch planet earth and appreciate nature only the way you did. I vow to take trips to the snow and try to capture landscapes like you did. I vow to not give up on our dream of creating a thriving photography company. I vow to always chase the best light and always take sharp crisp photos. I vow to be the kind of loyal friend you were. Above all else, I vow to love you and continue to be a person you are proud of.

I can’t believe I have to say goodbye. That I have to face the world without you. I felt like I could conquer anything with you by my side. Your family, my family, your friends, and I will never stop missing you. I loved you for all the days we were together and I will love you until the day I die. I hope you are at peace. I hope you are among the stars.

Goodbye, my sweet Andy. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.

Living Your Truth: Cliché catch phrase or inspirational mantra?

I have heard so many people talking about “living authentically” or “speaking your truth” but what does it ACTUALLY mean? It starts to sound like a silly mantra or a new trendy catch phrase you’d find on a coffee mug at Target. But it means so much more than that.

Swipe through your Facebook and try to find a truly authentic post. I dare you. Try to find someone sharing their real struggles and their real pain. Not complaining about politics or airing their dirty laundry on Facebook, mind you, but authentic struggles. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve chosen friends that do just that and it won’t be too hard. But, a lot of people wrap their lives up in a pretty bow and present it to the world. Then, we like it, and maybe we even leave a comment. But then we feel a little worse about ourselves. We click our phone back to darkness and walk away. But, a few minutes later, there we are again, in the same trap, looking at everyone’s greatest successes and comparing them to all of our worst failures. We see someone buying a new house and think about how we only have $200 in the bank, and we think we’ll never have our shit together enough to own a home. We sum our lives up to our worst fears, our worst moments. We forget that we have a story and a journey that is different from theirs. After all, maybe you just started a company. So yeah, you have $200 in the bank, but you’ve dumped thousands into your business, into your future. Or maybe you just got out of a bad relationship and have to save while you get back on your feet. Maybe you are just dealing with mental health issues and you’ve had the good sense to give that the priority it needs. Money will come and go, but our mental health is the only thing that 100% determines your present and your future happiness.

Instagram caption: This is my reality… it’s not that pretty, but… sometimes I uncomfortably cry myself to sleep. To be in pain from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, can be overwhelming. To know I likely have an autoimmune disease, but to not know which and to not know if there’s a treatment plan, can be depressing. But this little puppy makes it all okay!

So, how can we live authentically in a world of Pinterest boards, Instagram models, and social media influencers that seem to rock this thing called life, all with their perfect skin and flawless bodies? While I am curled up in a ball, having a panic attack, they are on a boat in Tahiti. Shit, I can’t even afford to rent a boat on a lake for the day by myself. I have cellulite and stretch marks all over my body, I’ll never look like that in a swimsuit. Then, the anxiety only magnifies and now, not only am I having a panic attack, I’ve just decided I’ll never be worthy of the “perfect” life.

We have to stop comparing ourselves. We have to realize that this Instragram model has dark days too. She’s had failures and struggles. While she might look perfect in a bikini, she might have a Dad that’s never been there for her. She might have been in an abusive relationship she struggled to get out of. Honestly, she probably photo-shopped out some of her cellulite or other imperfections. There’s a reason you see so many Youtube videos being shared with stressed out Moms joking about the struggles of Motherhood, or videos of business owners talking about how many times they failed, and continue to fail, before they experienced success.

It is because the world craves authenticity. We crave connection. There can’t be connection without vulnerability.

A rare photo of my “real smile” I don’t typically share because it’s crooked.

THERE CAN’T BE CONNECTION WITHOUT VULNERABILITY. There can’t be love without vulnerability. What is more terrifying than telling someone you love them and them not saying it back? Or maybe even waiting months for them to say it back?

The key is, when you live authentically, you know your self worth isn’t defined by one success, a job, your weight, the money in your bank, or whether or not your boyfriend says I love you. When we live authentically and are true to our self, we know how we deserve to be treated, and therefor, we accept no less.

How do we get to that place? A lot of soul searching and deep diving into ourselves. We have to find the cause of our self doubt, the stem or root of it. Was it that your father always said you weren’t good enough? Maybe you were smart but the school system failed you and you always felt less than your peers. Maybe your Mom was loving and warm but she wasn’t nurturing and left you to fend for yourself. It is honestly probably a combination of several relationships, our personality quirks, life experiences, and the relationships that were modeled for us as children. But how do you get those answers for yourself?

It fascinates me that we throw children in school at the age of 5 and we teach them how to count apples, how to write their name, but we don’t teach them the most important lesson they’ll ever need: how to effectively communicate; how to love themselves and value their self worth. We unknowingly learn so much of this before we even hit the grounds of Kindergarten.

We learn it by watching our Mom point out her imperfections in the mirror, or by hearing our Dad pick apart our Mom’s imperfections at the breakfast table. We learn that even if a man belittles you, but he says he loves you, he must in fact love you. We learn that it’s okay for a man to hit a woman as long as he says he’s really sorry and gets you an ice pack afterward. We learn that showing emotions is a weakness and are taught to “suck it up!” We learn that crying in public is something we should hide and be ashamed of. Or, if we’re really crazy over-the-moon lucky, we learn that it’s not okay to be spoken to with disrespect. We learn that our self worth is already there, it isn’t defined by an outside source, it comes from inside us. We hold the key. If we are insanely lucky, we learn to have compassion for ourselves and others. We learn to hear the root fear and root pain in someone’s words or actions. We learn how to not only hear someone else’s pain, but to acknowledge their feelings and to agree to change our approach so as to better meet their needs.

I clearly don’t have all the answers. I still look in the mirror and instead of noticing my attributes I should be thankful for, I only see all of my cellulite and my stretch marks. I still struggle with valuing myself at any weight, and that will be a lifelong struggle for me, I am sure. But I do know now that my self worth isn’t defined by a man or a job or where I live. I had that all stripped away, and it actually freed me.

When I lost the pretty house on an acre of land, lost my fiance, and decided to go back to school, I lost all the things I could attribute my self worth to.

That left me feeling pretty shitty. I felt worthless and pitiful. I instantly searched for a partner to regain my self worth. Instantly starting trying to figure out how to get back the house and the success in business. My mental health was screaming for me to pay attention to my pain, but I wanted to move forward, only do things that made me feel good about myself.

But then something strange happened… having people call me a monster, an abusive partner, a drug addict, a fucking MURDERER, I realized who I actually was. I realized I was actually the opposite of everything they said I was. I am kind, honest, compassionate, hard working, empathetic, and even in the face of adversity and cruelty, I remained kind and did the right thing. I dreamt of doing the wrong thing, believe me. I dreamt of what I’d say to them. Dreamt of telling them the hurt and pain they’d unnecessarily caused. Dreamt of telling them how disappointed Andy would be in them. I realized, with the help of my therapist, that they would never hear my words, that they would only hear me through the filter of their hate and anger. It would fall on deaf ears. At the end of the day, I could rest my head on my pillow, knowing that I chose to lead with kindness when I could’ve chosen hateful words or actions. I used my capacity for empathy to treat them with the respect they maybe didn’t earn, but deserved, simply because they are his family. They are people with hearts and I didn’t want to cause them any more pain, despite them going out of their way to cause me pain. Knowing that I was capable of forgiveness, understanding and empathy for people that didn’t deserve it, told me who I was. (I do truly believe that I was allowed this forgiveness because my family and friends shared their inner desire to cause pain as well, but none of them chose to act on it. It freed me in a way to find forgiveness and let go of resentment.)

I realized that my self worth was always there, in my spirit, in my heart.

It saddens me to admit this, but early on in my relationship with my fiance, there was a recurring message from him. When he was reluctant to be intimate with me, I asked him why. He said, “Look, I told you I want a partner that’s really fit, right? Well, I am not used to being with a bigger girl.” I was CRUSHED. I had just gone from 160ish lbs down to 140 lbs. I was wearing a size 2/4 pants and felt so good about myself.

Now, here he was, reminding me I wasn’t worth as much since I still had some weight to lose.

Several times throughout our relationship, I bounced back and forth between 130-140 lbs. I’d starve myself to look thin, and then I’d basically say, “Okay, I did it! We can be intimate now!!” Did he jump into the sack with me?! Nope. (In fact, in every relationship he had been in, even with very thin girls, he said intimacy was an issue.) In these times, he would say, “Oh I am not feeling good about myself, actually. I need to lose some weight, then I’ll want to be intimate.” Or he’d say, “I’m so stressed about money, the last thing I want is sex.” When I got down to 132, he even said, “you’d look great at 125.” When I later told him how much that hurt me, he said it was just a joke. It wasn’t. Later, I realized several things about this. First of all, it wasn’t about me or my weight, ever. He didn’t do this to be cruel or hurt me. It was about his issues, his unresolved trauma, his shame and pain. I realized that while I told him it wasn’t okay to talk to me this way, I alone was allowing him to equate my worth, my worthiness of affection, to the number on my scale. Why? Why had I given him the power to define my worthiness? Because my Father had always said women were less valuable at a higher weight. Because magazines and Instragram confirmed this. Because I wrapped up all my value as a human in whether I weighed 125 or 145.

It was only after therapy and meditation, that I realized how wrong this was. As soon as I realized it, I no longer accepted men that didn’t value me based on my heart, but on my body. In fact, I saw the red flags miles away and ran. I saw the gym addict that said he valued people that “take great care of themselves” for who he was, an insecure perfection seeker.

I truly believe the only way to live authentically or to start to speak your truth is to find your vulnerability deep within you. To go to therapy and or meditate to find the broken pieces and begin to repair them. To shine a light on the darkness within. It will be hard and painful. Your inner voice will derail your progress at times, but you have to remain diligent. Face hard truths and be kind to yourself. Change your inner voice to one you would use with a friend.

Again, I am not saying I have this mastered. I know I still have so much work to do in this regard. In fact, while taking a break from writing, I unconsciously went and looked in the mirror, as I do countless times a day, and evaluated my body while trying to determine if I’d put on weight. But, living authentically isn’t about having this mastered. It’s about just being honest with yourself and others about that imperfection.

Imagine you see two posts…

One is of an Instragram model in a bikini on the sandy beach of Bora Bora. Her skin is tan. Her hair is blonde. The sky above her is a perfect shade of blue and the drink in her hand is a delicious shade of peach. The caption reads: “Life is an adventure, live it up.”

The next post is of a Mom. She’s got a messy bun piled on top of her head. She has dark circles under her eyes and she’s holding a crying toddler in her arms. There is a messy plate of food on a highchair behind her, dishes in the sink, and clothes that need to be put away. The caption reads: “Today is one of those days. I’m just trying to get through it knowing I have better days ahead. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, sometimes it’s messy, dirty, and difficult.”

Which one gave you anxiety? I’ll bet it was the first. She’s representing the perfect life, why does that cause me anxiety instead of the disheveled messy house? Because it’s unattainable. It’s unrealistic. It is inauthentic. We relate to the vulnerability in the second post and it comforts us to know we aren’t alone.

So, share your authentic self with those that deserve to hear your story. Some will judge that you are looking for attention. Some will unfollow you, but good! You are better off without their input, without their judgment. In fact, unfollow the perfect model or social media influencer that only makes you feel not good enough. Shut your phone off for awhile and just be present. Be open and honest with yourself and others. That is what it means to live your truth, and that is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself and others that need to hear it.

Be kind to yourself and one another. And yeah, live and speak your truth.

Things No One Told Me About Suicide Grief

Grief is a unique journey. No two people will walk the same path, but there are some similarities we all experience. Here are the things I wish I knew I wasn’t alone in experiencing:

The Fog Is Real

The Grief Fog is thick and disorienting. In the first couple days/ weeks a feeling of confusion and shock, that can best be described as a fog, are all consuming. For me, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t shower, couldn’t brush my teeth, etc. (I was also experienced intense trauma since I witnessed my fiance’s suicide by shotgun.) Moving from the bed to the couch was about all I could muster. You simply can’t think of anything else other than you’ll never see your loved one ever again. This is where friends and family can REALLY save you. My family took care of all the logistics that I couldn’t even have fathomed of doing in that awful state.

Tip for Friends or Family: If you are a loved one looking to help someone in intense grief, I know you feel helpless. Watching as they become a ghost of their formal self in the early days. But you aren’t helpless! Simply cooking for them, buying their groceries, helping figure out what bills might be due, switching their address on their accounts, finding out which accounts might need a death certificate to close down, all of those things are IMMENSELY helpful! The fog for me was so thick, I forgot to eat if someone didn’t remind me. If you are experiencing grief, and you feel this way, please know it is okay to reach out for help during this time, you need this time to process everything. Talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed or if you just don’t want to be alone in the fog.

You feel selfish or silly

I don’t know how many people experience this, but I felt so selfish caring about anything. My mom was making a grocery list for the store and asked if I needed anything, I immediately thought of my coffee creamer and felt a pang of self judgement in my stomach. How selfish and silly of me. Here I am, asking for creamer and the love of my life is gone. He’ll never have coffee again. How could I think of coffee at a time like this? What is wrong with me? The first time I thought about actually washing and styling my hair, I felt ridiculous. Those things just seemed so trivial and I felt so guilty for caring about anything other than my fiance.

Tip for Family and Friends: Just be aware they might feel this way and encourage your loved one to shower and practice self care without guilt, self care is critical to healing.

Time Stands Still

The strangest thing happens when you experience trauma. It really feels like time freezes in that moment. For MONTHS I would refer to events that happened just days before the incident as “last week” even though it was months ago. Time froze and I felt stuck in that day.

Grief Makes You Horny

Clearly not everyone is horny during grief, but you are desperate to feel anything else. Whether it’s watching a comedy to escape, having a glass of wine to boost your mood, or having sex, you just want to feel anything but this gut wrenching pain and sadness. Anything to take your mind off the loss.

Tips for Friends and Family: Please know that this is a normal reaction and don’t judge. However, keep an eye out for self destructive behavior such as alcohol abuse.

Guilt, Bargaining, and Shame Consume You

In the first days after my fiance’s suicide, I replayed the events over and over in my mind. I wanted so desperately to change something so there could be a different outcome. “If only we hadn’t fought.” “If only I hadn’t had people over.” “If only I had never let him buy the gun.” You reel and reel in the details and long so desperately to change the past. If you wondered why I specified “Suicide Grief” instead of just “Grief”, this is why. Suicide grief is unique because you feel immense guilt for any part you might have played in their death. You feel you should have known they were in such a dark place that they’d even consider suicide. Had you missed the signs? Denial comes in to play here. I know I denied in the early days that he was capable of suicide. (Looking back, I see that his unresolved trauma, anger issues, history of depression, and difficult upbringing were all precursors to suicide.) Suicide also feels very shameful. You think things like “I was his fiance, I should have known he was capable of this. I should have prevented this.” Please know that this is very normal and healthy to process, but not to dwell in. In time, I realized that I clearly would have done ANYTHING to stop him and if I had been capable of preventing this, I would have. But I wasn’t. In my particular situation, my fiance’s suicide was an impulsive act fueled by alcohol, stress, sleepless nights (after losing our beloved dog and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease), and a pain pill he took for his knee. So, in my case, I knew that this was just a terrible terrible mistake that I know he would’ve never done in a clear state of mind. But, please know there is nothing ANYONE could say to me to make me kill myself. It isn’t your fault. The only person responsible for taking their own life, is them! Please be aware too that in this bargaining stage, it is all too common to start assigning blame to others. This isn’t healthy or helpful to anyone involved. You can’t change the past or bring them back, your anger should be at the situation and at the person that killed them self! They are the only one to blame.

Tips for Friends and Family: Please allow them to process their guilt, shame, and anger without judgement. Don’t tell them not to express those feelings. But rather, simply, and kindly, remind them that it’s normal to feel this way but that there is nothing they, or anyone, could’ve done. If you feel they are dwelling in this state for too long and it is preventing them from healing, encourage them to talk to a professional. In fact, I say always talk to a professional after something like this. You could even find a therapist (with their permission of course), contact them, and set up an appointment for them since they likely won’t be up to the task themselves.

Grief Brings Out Our Core Nature

Grief will reveal the VERY best in some of your friends and family, and in others, it will bring out their VERY worst. I saw my friends and family shine in my time of need and I was reminded of how truly wonderful, kind, and selfless they all are. But, unfortunately, in some of my friends and soon to be family, I saw them turn cold and quite frankly, very nasty. Try to focus on the all the positivity you receive and spend time practicing gratitude for those that have been at your side. Cut out the people that want to tear you down or just simply bring negativity to your life. It is okay to be selfish at this time and only put energy into the people that deserve it. Heck, this is a great time to think about doing some spring cleaning with your friends, cut out the people that clutter up your life. I am actually thankful that my friends and family’s true nature have been revealed. I see now how lucky I am to still have so many here that supported me and showed me a love that was truly humbling.

Tip for Friends and Family: Don’t be a selfish asshole. It’s pretty simple, really. I do understand that since you are close to this person, you likely are grieving too. But, if you are simply a not-that-close-friend to the person who passed away, and you are trying to comfort their significant other, try not to vent your sadness to them. It is important that they know you are grieving too, share that with them, but try not to make conversations about you and your grief. After all, what you are feeling is TERRIBLE but it doesn’t compare to their grief. Try to vent to other people who had the same relationship you had or people that aren’t involved at all. Telling your friend that lost their sister or husband (and possibly even witnessed their death or found their body) that you are having a really bad day, is probably not the best timing or most appropriate thing, given the circumstances. You are grieving too, and it is important you talk to someone, but just be tactful about who and when you share your struggles with. Be supportive to your friend or loved one during this time by being their support, they have no support to give you at the moment. And know that, god forbid, if/when you ever lose a loved one, they will likely be there for you in the same selfless way you were because they’ll remember your unrelenting support. And if they aren’t, kick them to the curb.

Grief is called a journey for a very good reason. It isn’t a straight line or path that will be the same for everyone. It is a winding, daunting, and beautiful journey we will walk. Please remember during your journey that you shouldn’t judge someone else’s grief or the way they choose to mourn. Also remember that while there is no ONE way to grieve, there are unhealthy ways such as blaming others or turning nasty to those closest to you. Be patient with yourself and others and be forgiving. After all, there’s no handbook on how to deal with grief since we all feel it and express it in such unique ways. Just do your best to be kind to yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or share your feelings openly. As Brene Brown says:


Brene Brown

Be vulnerable, be open, and be kind!

What It Means to Love You Now

Someone once explained memories as light skipping through the trees as you look out the window of your car on a long drive— with little glimpses of their face flashing in our minds.

Andy, I see your smile, your cute dance, you sitting on the couch playing guitar, as if an old movie reel plays in my head, skipping abruptly to the next scene. I see the bad parts too, the horrors of that night. But I try to push those out and replace them with the warmth of your smile, the warmth in your hugs. I play home made videos with you and they bring me so much comfort and so much pain.

To laugh with tears in my eyes, to cry while smiling, that is what it means to love you now. To love you is to feel pain, because we know we must live the rest of our days without you. We honor you in our missing of you. Our missing you IS our love for you. The pain has become sewn into our being. Your ghost lingers in our minds, our hearts, our memories.

We are lucky to love you so much we cry and laugh while we reflect on our memories. Our sadness and our joy in loving you are so wholly intertwined. The love I feel for you that once brought me so much joy and comfort, now brings searing, stabbing pain. I wish you could go back and undo what you did. That we could’ve seen your pain more clearly. That you could have sought the help I begged you to find. But we can’t change the past, nor should we dwell in the days past. We must forge on in this new world that is less bright without your light. We will never make new memories with you or revel in your success because you robbed yourself of a future. You lost the greatest gift we have on this earth, time. And we lost parts of our heart.

We didn’t lose them all at once. We lose parts everyday. As events come and go that you should be a part of, we lose a little piece of our heart. As your birthday (actually, “our”, since we have the same birthday) comes and goes without you here, another part of our heart is ripped from us. As a trip we planned to take together passes, another part is taken. As our wedding date approaches, yet another part is seared away. It’s easy to feel as if parts will continue to be taken until there’s nothing left. But we must remember to honor you by creating new memories. By telling stories of you and keeping your spirit alive by loving nature the way you did. By continuing the business we worked side by side to create. By keeping your work alive in my future work. By celebrating you and your accomplishments at every turn.

We must go on and look to the future, all while keeping our deep love for you at the forefront of our hearts. I love you. I miss you. Forever yours, Always.

It’s okay to not be okay… A glimpse into PTSD

I was going to write a blog about the power of forgiveness or about the healing I have found in meditation during my grief journey after losing my fiance to suicide. (If you haven’t read my previous blogs, I witnessed my fiancé’s suicide by shotgun.) But honestly, today, I would feel like a fraud writing that.

Because I am not okay.

And that is okay.

If anyone reading this has suffered from PTSD, you know what a silent battle it is we fight. If you are reading this and you don’t have PTSD, let me tell you a little bit about my experience with it. It certainly isn’t the same synopsis I’ve read for war veterans, but it does have some (much milder) similarities.

I describe my PTSD as a muffled buzz in your ear. At times it’s background noise and other times it’s piercing and you can’t hear anything beyond it. But it’s always there. Reminding you that you aren’t as okay as you appear. The more you try to ignore it, the louder it gets.

I don’t sleep

My main consistent symptom from my PTSD is that I can’t sleep. I have nightmares of mangled bodies, people trying to kill me, or I just toss and turn all night for no apparent reason. Some nights are better than others, thankfully, but it can be rough. I lie awake with overwhelming anxiety and say the meanest things to myself before I catch myself. I say “what a loser you are that you didn’t answer that email.” “You fucking idiot, you never sent out that USB.” Etc.

My remedy: I listen to meditations, books on tape, or I repeat mantras to myself like “I am safe, I am lucky to be in a warm bed. I am doing my best. My best is good enough right now. My best will get better in time. No one is going to hurt me. I am safe and I will be okay.” That does seem to help a lot. If you want resources for meditations or anything, let me know!

I can’t regulate my emotions as easily…

Something that would normally just get on my nerves a little bit, makes me quite upset. It can be something as innocuous as a disagreement with a family member, and I am in tears running out of the room. It makes me feel a bit crazy, honestly. But my therapist explained that my window of tolerance is smaller after trauma. Essentially, my flight or fight response is working overtime and a tiny thing can feel like an attack.

Here’s a link if you want to read more about the Window of Tolerance by Good Therapy:


My remedy: I immediately spend time alone and take time to put everything in perspective. I do some breathing exercises and try to imagine a safe place in my mind where I feel at peace. (I will talk more about my safe place in my EMDR blog.)

I have impulse control issues…

These can manifest themselves in lots of ways but I mostly find it really hard to choose to do things like work, answer emails, pay bills, etc, over working out, going for a walk, listening to music, taking a bath, or other self care things. Of course self care is essential to healing, but it shouldn’t start to derail your work, and for me it is. I am lucky to have two wonderful jobs I love and honestly, after the first job is done, I have very little energy for my other job. The overwhelming anxiety I get doing things I did daily without hesitation, has been one of my most defeating struggles. It’s easy to feel like a failure. I try to be kind to myself and patient. I hope if you are going through anything similar, you learn to have a kind inner voice as well.

My remedy: I honestly haven’t really found one. I struggle with this a LOT! But I try to not be so hard on myself.

I have intense flashbacks…

I can be in the car, or sitting on the bed having a conversation with someone, and BOOM, I am back in my kitchen/living room looking at Andy, lying lifeless on the floor. When those visuals come back, dread, panic, and terror steal my breath and I start to cry. If I am with someone, I can typically keep this to a sob. But by myself, I hyperventilate and cry uncontrollably. I also had an incident where a family member became upset and was displaying anger and I LOST it. I was completely taken back to that night and I couldn’t breath. My sister was on the phone with me and helped calm me down, but still, it was pure terror. I had this irrational feeling that I was going to be hurt and someone was going to die. Even though I know he’d NEVER EVER do anything but yell.

My remedy: I again try to imagine my safe place in my mind and focus on my breathing. I also learned in EMDR to focus on my surroundings to remind myself I am not in my kitchen/living room anymore. A deep breath in, with my hand on my stomach, to the count of 3 and a deep breath out to the count of 3 also really helps.

I just wanted to take a moment and share what my PTSD looks like because I can’t compare it to a lot of what I read online. It’s not as extreme as a war veteran or someone that has experienced severe trauma over and over and over again! It doesn’t look the same for everyone and I would say mine is a mild case. I do struggle to get out of bed some days but I am still able to fully commit to one of my jobs. I also still do things like travel, shop, clean, and other everyday things that someone with extreme PTSD can’t even fathom accomplishing.

And for that, I am VERY thankful! It could always be worse, and it is important to remember that. But please also remember that IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. It’s okay to ask for help, to reach out, to seek treatment, to say no to obligations in order to focus on your mental health. And don’t rush being okay again, it will come in it’s time.

I guess in a way, this blog did focus on healing and honestly, reminding myself that I have tools for all of my struggles, did actually help. I hope it helps someone else too. Even if only to realize you aren’t the only one that is smiling and looking completely normal on the outside, while inside you are so broken you wish you could wave a magical Harry Potter wand and be whole again. You are not alone. I am always here if you want to talk! Losing someone to suicide, or experiencing trauma, it is some hard shit! We all have our own timeline of healing and it isn’t a straight line. Every other time we get injured or sick, we know that each day will be easier than the last. Grief is nothing like that. You can be doing wonderfully and then all of a sudden, you feel back to square one and you can’t breath. An important date can come, like the 6 month mark, or a completely random experience can trigger it. It is quite the roller coaster. But, we are not on it alone. Even if it feels like we are sometimes. Someone is always a text or a phone call away. If you need that to be me, I am here! Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself and one another. (A little Ellen tribute)

A Letter to My Accusers

Dear people accusing me of murder,

I understand wanting answers for something that makes no sense. I understand wanting someone to blame. Anger is easier than despair. I understand. It’s easier to be mad at someone than to feel the deep sense of loss that comes with Andy’s death. It was a tragic night that should have never been.

Andy died of a self inflicted gun shot. Andy was not himself all night. To be honest, he hadn’t been himself for awhile. The intense grief of losing Symba was a burden he was unprepared to bear. We spent so much money trying to get answers to help him, we drained our banks and money was tight. My diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis was devastating to us and we were scared what it meant for the future of my health and our company. To say we were stressed, is an understatement. Andy told me he was barely sleeping and he was drinking way more than ever before. Andy was not a big drinker, but lately he’d been drinking quite often. He even got drunk on a weekday while playing video games with friends. He told me drinking made the pain easier. I wish I’d heard this more clearly. That night he was euphorically happy and not himself. He was scrubby and didn’t even shower or do his hair, VERY unlike him. Then, as if a light switch flipped, he was filled with a rage I’ve never seen. He snapped. He was no longer the loving compassionate partner I had always known. I looked into his eyes and it was as if he was gone. After a rage filled outburst, while under the influence of alcohol and a pain pill, he decided to end his life.

Andy and I had a deep connection of love and trust to a depth neither of us had ever known. I’ve heard the lies that have been spread and I just want you to know, Andy was not planning on leaving me. I know we had ups and downs and sometimes we fought, but we always stuck it out. We were planning our wedding the week he died. He had called a guitar player just that week to set up a meeting to hire him to play at our wedding. We had just spoke about a hand fasting ceremony and we were researching buying cloth to represent my family’s heritage. Andy and I were making plans for our future together. He wasn’t planning on leaving or ending his life.

What happened that night was tragic and does not represent the man that Andy was. I will not let one night define him. He was not making rational decisions that night. Andy was good, kind, compassionate, passionate, stubborn, and a myriad of wonderful and not so pleasant things. He wasn’t perfect, no one is. But he was the love of my life and our love was imperfectly perfect. I have many flaws but I love Andy with all my heart and I would never hurt him. I had nothing to do with his death.

I am so sorry you are grieving. I am so sorry your heart hurts! We are all in this together. I wish you could see that. I wish our grief could be something we could all share, something we could all sit in and walk through together, instead of it tearing us apart. I understand wanting to blame, find answers, and find justice for Andy. But your anger is misguided. There are no answers that make this okay or bring him back. The detectives ruled it a self inflicted gun shot, because that’s exactly what it was. I didn’t help him load the gun or urge him to do it, as you have suggested. I would never do anything of the sort to anyone, let alone Andy, my love. I was on the floor, very dazed and confused when he did it. I didn’t even realize what he was doing until I looked up and it was too late. I would have risked my life to save him if I had realized what he was doing, without a second thought!

I hope one day you come to terms with the truth. That you find healthy ways to express your grief. I hope you learn to live with your grief in losing Andy and you find some semblance of peace. I only wish the best for your future.

To my accusers, I forgive you. I know how much this hurts you. It’s unbearable at times. It hurts in ways I didn’t know it could. Andy always said his favorite thing about me was my capacity for caring, that I truly felt other’s feelings. I really do empathize with you and I hope one day you understand that I had nothing to do with Andy’s death and I would do anything to have him back. One day, I hope you see that Andy’s suicide was a tragic and senseless loss. I try to make sense of it, as I know you are as well, but it doesn’t make any sense. Andy had so much to live for and if he hadn’t been not sleeping, hadn’t been stressed, and hadn’t been under the influence, he never would have snapped and taken his life.

To his family, you all have Andy’s childhood, his early hears, his high school days, his college years and the years he was becoming the man I met 5 years ago. I spent almost every day with him for the last 4 years of his life. Even when we lived 2 hours apart, we spent EVERY weekend together. We all have our own special bond with him, our own private memories. We are bonded by our love for him. Bonded by our deep missing of him. Bonded by our desperate need to make sense of his loss. By the painful ache in our hearts of longing to have one more talk with him, one more car ride, one more joke from him, one more day.

I am so heartbroken this has torn us apart. That your anger in losing him has been misguided in my direction. I’m so sad to be abandoned by all of you. I pray you never know the depth of sorrow, betrayal, and pain I have felt in not only his loss, not only the tragic images that plague my every waking moment, but in the pain of your words and actions. I pray you never bear witness to something as awful as I’ve seen. I hope your hearts heal and you can live with the grief of losing Andy in the healthiest way and in a way that best brings you peace. Inaccurately accusing me and spreading false rumors about me, that is not the way, I assure you. Trying to turn the beautiful life we had into something ugly, that is not the way to your healing. It is not the right thing and it isn’t what Andy would want. He deserves better. I deserve better.

Andy spent the last five years loving me and building a life with me. He made me his business partner and was going to make me his wife. He took care of me in times of sickness and was fiercely loyal to me in the way we knew he was with everyone he loved deeply. I wish you could honor his memory by treating me with the kindness that he did, with the kindness I deserve.

I have tried to treat you with kindness but I apologize from the bottom of my heart if you feel I didn’t. Unfortunately, I had to take privacy and withdraw from anyone connected to those that accused me to protect myself. I am sorry if you misunderstood this for a lack of caring. In the wake of witnessing such tragic events, I was very withdrawn. I didn’t want to talk to people or leave the house. I could barely find the energy to shower. I hope you didn’t mistake my PTSD for a lack of caring for you. I couldn’t get off the couch let alone go to a funeral home. I couldn’t see his viewing because I watched him die in the most horrific way. I wanted to remember him alive and vibrant. I desperately wanted to connect with all of you and keep you close. But I also received hateful letters and text messages and I had to protect myself by disconnecting. I was scared. Detectives told me to be careful too, they were worried I might get hurt. I knew people were saying horrible things about me and I didn’t know who to trust. People were instantly contacting me to start divvying up our stuff. I couldn’t process that he was gone and people were already claiming belongings, many of which I purchased on my credit card and still owed money on (or that we had purchased together with money we earned from our business together). Things that carried memories of the life we had built together that was now torn from me. I was trying to prepare myself for a funeral for my best friend, my business partner, the love of my life all while knowing that people that wished me harm would be there. It was too much to process all at once and I went into a black hole. I’m sorry if my actions hurt you during this time. Truly. I want you to have the things that you gave him or the items that bring you memories of him like his X-box. (Of course, I can’t give away company gear or items that I still owe money on, though I am happy to give away the camera he used at weddings if that eases some pain.) That is why I gave his family access to the house to take whatever they wanted. I was told that I was his family and therefor everything that was his was mine, that no one would come for my business. It meant the world to me because Andy was my family and I considered his family my family, as I know mine was his. But if any of this was misunderstood at the time, you have my apology. I didn’t want to make anything harder on ANYONE! I just needed time to grieve alone. Time to process the trauma and my new reality.

I read a quote about grief that I think describes it quite perfectly…

“Grief is a process, an unending long and winding road. The landscape changes as we travel the distance, some parts of the path are barren and some more beautiful– But it’s the same road. And grief itself is the destination: at every moment of our grief, we are arriving.”

-Bearing the Unbearable By Joanne Cacciatore

I hope we can learn to live with the ugly parts of this journey and learn to appreciate the beautiful parts as well. I wish you the best in life and I know Andy would tell me to be kind and patient with his family, he would tell us all to be kind to one another.

He is loved and deeply missed. I will keep him in every thought, every trip, every adventure, every sunset, every time a bird lands nearby, he is with me.


Your almost daughter, sister, cousin, and granddaughter in law.