My son was 16 when he took his own life. His name is Michael Alfred.

After my loss, I did not believe there could be healing. I ate and ate and ate. I gained 65 lbs. I saw no future. But slowly – very slowly, after counseling, therapy, and research with support groups – I came to realize this was my new life and I had to either embrace this or not.

In the beginning, I sat on the couch and ate. I did not believe that there were other parents who had lost a child by suicide. I was living in Philadelphia/Delaware County. I found AFSP, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I was married at the time, for over 25 years, but with the death of my son, so went my marriage.

The most helpful thing, I found, was to be able to talk. Just talk. This was back in 1993, so online support groups were not as available as they are now. But through AFSP and SOS (Survivors of Suicide), I was able to see that I was not alone. It really is difficult when you try to heal and your partner does not want to, however, heal I did. The most difficult part  for me was seeing others going on with their lives; seeing my son’s friends graduate, marry, and have children.

I continue to heal today by being available to newly bereaved parents either via support groups or my podcast: To let others know they are not alone. They will survive this journey. For me, it has been 29 years since my son has been gone. I try to take the tools that I have gathered and spread them to others. When it becomes too hard, I try to be real with myself and cry if I need to – or just hug someone.

Our son’s death was so sudden, so traumatic that rather than come together my husband and I drifted apart. We divorced three to five years after Michael died. We were able to remain friends. My husband died suddenly of a heart attack almost two years ago. At the time of my son’s death, my daughter was 13. She is a woman of 42 now. My children were so close. Looking back, I would have attempted to encourage my husband and I more as a couple. I would have attempted to get counseling for my daughter then.

Author: Margaret Pelleriti is a survivor of suicide loss. After losing her son to suicide, Margaret became active in AFSP speaking in schools, writing, and most recently creating her podcast. Her message: “You are loved. Don’t give up!”