Using hardship to spread HOPE

Just before turning 60 years old I had 3 children and 5 grandkids.  All that changed in the visual sense.  My first grandchild died by suicide.  His name was Angel and he was 17 years old with so much to live for.  But he did not think so.

Val and Angel

We did so much together.  Boy scouts, baseball.  School events. Vacations to Miami and amusement parks. 

He loved family. He loved music. Played the piano and drums. He was your average teenager with normal teenage problems.  Then, things started to change with his actions.

We no longer had the same relationship we shared in the past. 

“Then like the stars on a stormy night he was gone.”

With me remembering our last hug and our last “I love you” just the day before. I was in shock or disbelief.  This tragedy made my final decision to retire after 41 years working at John Deere.  My last year of work which was the year after he passed I can truthfully say I do not remember.

So my first question to my grief was “Why?”  Soon, I found out I would not findan answer.  We all want answers to life’s struggles.
Suicide, cancer, fatal accidents, childhood diseases. We may or may not find our answers.  So if I couldn’t find the answer to why, I decided to reach out and try to understand. 

What I did find out was I was not alone.  I had no idea what pain he was experiencing.  He would not talk to me.  He was reaching out to people that helped ease his pain the wrong way. 


I joined my first suicide uspport group supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  That then led me to another group NAMI(National Alliance on Mental Illness). Both programs educate and advocate for mental health and suicide prevention and awareness.  These groups have helped me so much in my healing.

You don’t have to be a professional to help.  I have lived experience and that is just as important.


My grief feels like being stuck in a deep hole with no way out.  By reaching out and talking about my grief, I now have friends that understand me and we feel the same way. Those friends are the ones that get the ladder to pull me out of the hole and help me move forward in hope.  They give me a reason to smile and be happy.


I hope with educating the community we can lose the stigma of sucide and mental health.  By talking to communities and schools and educating them of the warning signs.  Our younger generation is so vulnerable and they need strong problem solving skills.

Back in the day, nobody wanted to say the word Cancer.  People thought it was a contagious disease. Now Cancer has lost that stigma because people were educated that it is not contagious. We talked about cancer and found some cures. Lets talk about suicide and save Lives.

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