Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Pratyusha Banerjee

Pratyusha Banerjee was born in Jamshedpur city of Jharkhand. Later, she lived in Mumbai. Banerjee was an Indian actress who appeared in numerous television and reality shows. 
Many close to Banerjee have suggested that she suffered from depression that she kept hidden from the outside world in order to keep up the positive and upbeat appearance that she felt was necessary to her career as an actress.
On April 1, 2016, Banerjee lost her life to suicide, in her home in Mumbai. Pratyusha Banerjee was 24 years old when she died.

Pratyusha Banerjee 
August 10, 1991 –  April 1, 2016

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Standing By You

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won't be afraid
No I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

- Bennie King, Stand By Me

Oh my heart. 

My heart is so heavy right now. So full of love and so full of heartache.

In a few days, we will round the corner to three years since we lost John. Once again, memories of his loss are fresh. I am engulfed in the memories of those first days and weeks. 
But today, it is not for me that my heart aches. Today, I am aching for my fellow survivors of suicide loss - particularly those who are very new to their loss. 

I made it through the first few weeks after John died, because I was never alone. My close friends and my son worked together to ensure that there was always someone by my side. Later I would tell people that I did not make it through the first year at all, but instead other people made it through for me and they held me up all the while. The people who loved me carried me. I was saved by hugs and shoulders to cry on and hands to hold. That is just the truth.

Who will hold up a suicide loss survivor today, though? As our world is adjusting to a pandemic and an urgent need to step back from physical contact - as we are all being forced into taking a time out - I can tell you for certain that suicide is not taking a break. I suppose I was blessed that three years ago, we weren't being given a worldwide message that the best way to show someone you care about them is to stay away.

How will new loss survivors make it through now?

I can't give you an easy answer. Like every question that has to do with how a person goes on living after someone they love has died - there are no easy answers. What I can tell you is this: survivors of suicide loss are some of the strongest people I know. We will find a way.

If you are new to a loss by suicide:

I know your agony. I may not be able to touch you, but I am standing by you and you are not alone.

I know your fear.
We may never have met, but I am standing by you and you are not alone. 

I know your tears and I know your hurt. I may not be able to hug you, but I am standing by you and you are not alone.

I know the hows and the whys that will tear at you. I know your rage at the lack of answers. 

I am standing by you and you are not alone.

Three years ago, it took over a month before I could spend the night in my own home alone. On one of the first nights, it was raining outside. When the rain picked up, the wind caused one of the doors to the shed behind my house to blow open and then shut again. It was a startling and spooky sound. I looked outside my bedroom window and I could see what had happened, but I was in my nightgown, it was dark, and it was pouring outside. When you are a survivor of suicide loss, there are times when nothing about the world feels safe. I certainly didn't feel safe going outside that night. So, I made the decision to not venture out until morning. I'd latch the shed's doors then. Instead, I picked up my laptop and posted a message to an online survivors of suicide loss group. I explained what was going on. I am scared. I wish I weren't alone. 
That is what I wrote.

And then, a minute later, someone replied. "You are not alone." And then another person. "You are brave." And then another. "You can do this." And then another. "Try to rest. We are here for you now, and we will be here for you in the morning."

On that night, I was finally able to fall asleep because of who those words were coming from. Even when it seemed like the whole world was full of false fairy tales and deceitful stories of dreams come true, I knew that my fellow survivors of suicide loss would tell me the truth. 
It was that night that I learned how to take in the love and concern of my fellow survivors. Love that wasn't directly in front of me but was still ~ and always ~ around me. 

To my fellow survivors of suicide loss, know this: learning to lean into love that you can not see will be an integral key to healing, in more ways than one. I promise you that.

If you are new to this loss, please don't let being physically alone stop you from reaching out. Don't stop telling us when you are lonely. Don't stop telling us when you are afraid. I am not the only one who - regardless of physical proximity - is standing by you. If you are like me, you may feel as if you will not be able to make it through these dark nights. That's ok. I felt that way too, and some nights I still do. But I am making it through. One day, like me, you will look around and find that you are among the strongest group of people that you have ever known. You do not have to do this alone. We will do this together. Let me share with you the truth that my fellow survivors shared with me on that rainy night three years ago: You are not alone. You are brave. You can do this. Try to rest, we are here for you now and we will be here for you in the morning.

We will find the ways to withstand physical separation from those we love, while leaning into love at the very same time.

You are not alone. I promise. I am right here, standing by you.

I promise.

Photo at top: Me with the Macaluso Family
August 2017, four months after John's loss.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Billy MacKenzie

William MacArthur MacKenzie (Billy) was a Scottish singer, with a high tenor voice. He was a member of The Associates

In 1976 he formed the Ascorbic Ones, which would eventually become the Associates. He began releasing music under his own name in the 1990s. Mackenzie also collaborated with many other artists during his career. In 1987, he wrote lyrics for two tracks on Yello's album One Second: He also collaborated with B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation) for their two albums Music of Quality and Distinction Volume I (1982) & Volume II (1991).
On 22 January 1997, depression and the death of his mother are believed to have contributed to Mackenzie's death by suicide. He was 39 years old when he died.


Billy MacKenzie 
March 27, 1957 – January 22, 1997

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Keith Emerson

Keith Noel Emerson was an English musician and composer. He played keyboards in a number of bands and was internationally acclaimed when he became a founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which become one of the best-known progressive rock groups of the 1970s.
During the 2000s, Emerson resumed his solo career. He reunited with ELP bandmate Greg Lake in 2010 for a duo tour, culminating in a one-off ELP reunion show in London to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. Emerson's last album, The Three Fates Project, was released in 2012.
Emerson reportedly suffered from depression, and in his later years developed nerve damage that hampered his playing, making him anxious about upcoming performances. Keith Emerson died by Suicide on March 11, 2016. He was seventy one years old when he died.

Keith Noel Emerson 
November 2, 1944 – March 11, 2016

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Beauty of Grief

For my fellow survivors of suicide loss and for my fellow survivors of suicide attempts.
Hold on. Be strong. One step after another.
You are not alone.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Richard George Manuel

Richard George Manuel was a Canadian musician, best known as a pianist, lead singer, and occasional drummer of the Band. His songs were widely covered, including by Cass Elliot and Joan Baez.
Manuel was well known to struggle with depression and addiction. On March 4, 1986, Richard George Manuel died by suicide. He was 42 years old.

Richard George Manuel 
April 3, 1943 – March 4, 1986

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Paul Gruchow

Paul Gruchow was an American author, editor, and conservationist from Montevideo, Minnesota. A student of poet John Berryman, he is well known for his strong support of rural communities, as expressed in his first book, "Journal of a Prairie Year" published by University of Minnesota Press. His essays in Grass Roots: The Universe of Home, document his ideas with stories of growing up in rural Chippewa County Minnesota.

Gruchow suffered from depression and on February 22, 2004, shortly after completing the first draft of a book about depression, he lost his life to suicide. Paul Gruchow was fifty six years old when he died.

Paul Gruchow 
May 23, 1947 – February 22, 2004

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Joshua Koenig

Joshua Andrew Koenig was an American character actor, film director, editor, writer, and human rights activist. He was best known as a child actor. From 1985 to 1989, Koenig played a recurring role as Richard "Boner" Stabone, best friend to Kirk Cameron's character Mike Seaver in the first four seasons of the ABC sitcom Growing Pains. He also guest starred on episodes of the sitcoms My Sister Sam and My Two Dads as well as the drama 21 Jump Street

As an adult Koenig continued performing but he also frequently wrote, produced and/or directed films. He worked as an editor on a number of films and was a video producer for the podcast Never Not Funny.

Koenig was a dedicated political activist, often protesting China's human rights violations. In 2008 he was arrested for civil disobedience at Pasadena's Tournament of Roses, when he protested China's float promoting the Beijing Olympics.

Koenig was known to have suffered from severe depression throughout his adult life. On February 16, 2010, he died by suicide. He was forty one years old at the time of his death.

Joshua Andrew Koenig 
August 17, 1968 – February 16, 2010

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Lee Hye-Ryeon

Lee Hye-Ryeon best known as U;Nee was a South Korean singer, rapper, dancer and actress.
In 2005, her record label began focusing more on her image, while transforming her dance-pop style music into a sexy R&B sound, as heard in her 2005 single, "Call Call Call". U;Nee underwent plastic surgery. She remained successful and performed frequently. Her records were in the Top 10 of Korean Music Charts. However, U;Nee's record company then tried to advertise her more as a sexy singer, which gave her harsh criticism from netizens. U;Nee, who was personally soft-spoken and reserved, found this difficult to bear. 
U:Nee began to experience significant depression. On January 21, 2007, she died by suicide. She was twenty five years old when she died.

May 3, 1981 – January 21, 2007

Monday, January 13, 2020

Donny Hathaway

Donny Edward Hathaway was an American jazz, blues, soul and gospel singer, songwriter, arranger and pianist. Hathaway signed with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, "The Ghetto", in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine "marked him as a major new force in soul music." He often collaborated with Roberta Flack. His song "Where Is the Love" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1973. At the height of his career 

Hathaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was known to not take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Donny Hathaway died by suicide.  He was thirty three years old.

Donny Hathaway 
October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979