Tragedy of any type changes us in ways we never expected and sends us in directions we never thought we’d go. Long after the sharp pain of tragedy subsides, many people are able to recognize unexpected gifts born from it.
My mother’s 1985 suicide derailed my life, but facing my grief 30 years later helped put it back together. Ultimately the path I chose working in television combined with my personal goal to break the decades long silence in my family about mom’s death resulted in The Silent Goldens documentary, which I hope to use as a platform to advocate for suicide loss survivors for years to come. Direction, purpose and a story – those were the specific gifts I believe my mother left for me.
Because traumatic events immediately gives survivors entry into “the club nobody wants to be in” with others who have had similar experiences, you make instant and deep connections with people you never would have met otherwise. The many friends I’ve met are a more indirect and wonderful gift, and being involved in the survivor community and working in outreach with those having recent losses constantly reminds me why I am making The Silent Goldens.
Through a series of friends (shout out Laurie Shiers and Gerald Everett Jones) I was introduced to Rebecca Schaper, the guest on this month’s Talking About Suicide With…. She had already produced a documentary and written a book about her family’s struggles including losing both her parents to suicide. Since she had already done what I was trying to do, I was eager to meet her.
Luckily, Rebecca comes to Los Angeles on occasion from her home back east and we had a lovely lunch with the conversation running start to finish. Her story was much more complicated than mine, but breaking the silence that settled in her family after the first tragedy – her mother’s suicide – brought her the same type of healing, curiosity and purpose that I found.
Check out Rebecca’s Talking About Suicide Loss With… segment here!
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You can find Rebecca’s book and film through her website rebeccaschaper.com.