Family History and their Secrets

If I could go back in time and change my career and education (for the millionth time), I would become a genealogist and researcher. I’ve always been an old soul, interested in personal histories. When I was a kid, I found an old black and white picture of a dirt road that was in front of my grandparents house. Desert for miles and a an old road that looked abandoned. That old road is now Craig Road in Las Vegas. I displayed that picture on my desk, where I would think about what life was life back when the wild west was new. What made my family come out here? What struggles did they encounter? So very interesting to me.

My favorite hobby is researching family history. There are many secret, taboo, and interesting stories in my family genealogy. I have scoured newspaper articles and records, trying to confirm these secrets as true. I need to find the concrete evidence that these dark secrets are true!

Let’s start with my dad’s dad, Stanley. I could call him my grandpa, but I never met him and all the stories I heard about him were not nice. He (supposedly) was born in 1902 to polish immigrants. Legend has it (sounds like a mythical story here), he took his brother’s identity so he could join the military early. His brother was 11 years old when he died. The story goes that Stanley and his brother were out playing somewhere when his brother tragically died. Only Stanley knows the truth. Some say they were playing by the train tracks when he was hit and killed by a train. A document I found said that he drowned. Whatever the story is, I don’t think Stanley’s family ever forgave him. He left early to join the Navy. He had many marriages and divorces (so taboo in the early 1900’s!). 4 marriages and divorces from what I have found. He was known as a cheater. He had many kids from different marriages. My dad had a half brother and 2 half sisters. Stanley disowned my dad when he was older. My dad remembers the fighting between his mom and dad, and seeing his dad walk down that dirt road with a bag in hand headed for the highway. He didn’t have a dad that played catch or helped him with school. It was just my dad’s sister (who tragically died at the age of 12 after a fall while visiting Valley of Fire with their church), my grandma, and my dad’s aunt and uncle. He didn’t really have a father figure in his life. Not until my grandma met and married my grandpa Al (I am allowed to call him that, he was the grandpa I knew and loved). My dad was in his late teens and needed work on his car. My dad introduced the mechanic to my grandma and the rest is history. But there lies a secret too.

My Grandpa Al Leto was my favorite. When we lived with them for a short while, he would play tea parties with me outside. He teased me. He would listen to the baseball games on their large radio, and watch the spanish tv station. He taught me how to scrape every last drop from my ice cream bowl (pretty annoying sound to my parents I am sure). He loved spaghetti. He dressed up as Santa for Christmas. He always had a joke. He would give me stuffed animals when we later visited him in the rest home. He loved my dad as his own. He said he was Italian and was from Florida. He also said he never had kids and wasn’t married before. My research has proven that was a lie! (Insert Maury Povich voice). His name was Al Favata and Through my research, he was possibly connected with the mafia in Tampa. He was married and had 2 kids, yet later divorced. His parents were from Italy and worked in the cigar factories. He was a member of the local Italian club. Him and his brothers owned a mechanic shop. He served in WWII and worked on airplanes. The pictures I found of him and his brothers prove that it is him. There’s no denying it! But there’s no denying that he loved and respected my grandma. He loved my dad and would do anything for our family. So what made him leave Tampa in the 60’s? Was it a bitter divorce? Was he in witness protection program? He didn’t seem like he would abandon his kids. This information doesn’t change how I feel about him. I love and miss him so much!

Celebrating my birthday
He was the best!
Eating spaghetti

We all have secrets and skeletons in our closets. Our ancestors had so many hardships. Hard upbringings. But they persevered. The facts paint a picture of their lives. My grandpa was still humble and loved to joke. Everyone loved him. I wonder how our family moved on and continued living. Back when no one shared their hardships or saw a therapist. They just hid their hard things and moved on. But I don’t believe that was easy at all.

My dad tried hard for years reading self help books. He had a really tough life. He served in the war, was raised by a single mother in the 1950s. Was made fun of in school, kids calling him a poor farmer boy. Tragically lost his sister. Dad disowned him. He lost friends. Story goes on. But he married a great woman (my mom!) and loved her deeply. He couldn’t respect any man who cheated. He raised my sister and I to be great, caring people.

At the end, I think he was tired. He was tired of struggling with his emotions that he would not show or talk about. He wasn’t raised like that. It’s hard and scary to do something different then what you are used to. Even though I preach going to therapy and taking time for yourself, it’s hard for ME to do it. I was raised in a family where we didn’t show any emotions or talk about sensitive issues. There weren’t hugs or pep talks. But it’s time to change and step out of our comfort zones.

I think we need to be more grateful for the people in our lives. Tell them how much we appreciate them. It goes a long way. It helps people know that they ARE good enough. Gives people confidence to keep going and trying. Let’s not just endure this life. Let’s lift each other up. And take care of ourselves while we are at it ❤️




My kids are battling a tough stomach bug. Making them delusional and lethargic from dehydration. My dad was just down to bones before he passed. He couldn’t keep much down either. My kids have been suffering for a few days each, I can’t imagine someone suffering for months like this. Having no energy, exhausted all the time, and can’t sleep. I can see why he decided it was his time. But I still wish with all my heart he chose to stay.

Driving to the hospital 45 minutes away to take my 5 yr old in for fluids and meds, I had lots of time to ponder about life. I feel so helpless as a mom when my kids get sick and nothing is helping them, no matter how hard I try. Worry and panic fill most of my days while I try to get my kids better. Lots of what if questions too. So the drive was good for me, in a way I guess. It was hard too because some emotions about my dad came out. I don’t know why it is, but when life gets tough and when I am dealing with trials, I always think about my dad. Missing him, questioning his choices, and trauma re-emerging surrounding his death. During this drive today, I put on some of his music. The Rolling Stones always remind me of road trips all over Nevada and Wyoming with my parents. Driving for hours in the middle of no where. Enjoying the outdoors, the scenic mountains and deserts these states bring. Stopping at picnic rest stops to enjoy some rest, lunch, and some fresh air. I wish I could go back to those days as a kid, enjoying the peaceful drive, watching my dad tap his hands on the wheel to the beat of the song. Listening to him singing to the songs. Window down, fresh mountain air breeze drifting into our 4Runner. Seeing lots of trees, lakes, and mountain passes. It truly was peaceful.

Today I cried while driving those same roads my dad traveled. With tears in my eyes, I whispered, “I miss you daddy. So much.” For a second, it felt like he was sitting next to me tapping along to The Rolling Stones song that was playing. I laughed. Then Cried some more. Thinking how I wish he was here to go on drives with. To make new memories together.

Why did he have to go? Why didn’t he leave any sort of goodbye note? How come he left so quickly without even saying he loved us? Weren’t we enough?

Hard thoughts to overcome and process. They aren’t as strong and emotional as the first few months but they are still there.

Hug the ones you love and cherish. Forgive those that are harsh. Lift others up. Let others know you appreciate them. We only have this one life, let’s try to appreciate what we have and work hard for what we want. Right now I am working hard on not getting sick 😅



Where’s the Compassion Gone?

My Saturday walk

Where has the compassion gone? Why are people quick to blame? Why are people more and more self centered? As Mister Rogers would say, look for the helpers. But where are they?

Since I was a little kid, I have always thought about how actions and words can hurt others. My mentality was ‘put yourself in others shoes, would they feel hurt if you said/did that?’ I’ve always had compassion for others. I was always the helper. I wanted to help people that were in pain. I know how it feels to be heartbroken or how things feel like they won’t work out. I don’t want others to feel that pain.

I feel like I am a minority in the way I think. So many people just care about what’s best for them and don’t care about how those actions effect others. Why can’t people have compassion for others? Why not try and help? Maybe that person was having a bad day. I can forgive others for that. I get it. We all have bad days. But when one gets treated badly over and over, that’s where I’ve learned to draw the line (and set boundaries).

I just don’t get it. Be nice. It’s that simple.

I often think my dad was hurt so bad that he put on this gruff exterior. Tried to act like he didn’t care what others did or say to him. But really, he was such a compassionate soul that I think it maybe ruined him. He saw lots of hurt and pain from others that he had to set boundaries for himself. His dad walked out on his family. He later disowned my dad because he didn’t make the Navy a career. His half brother would reach out and ask for money. My dad was too nice and would always send him checks when he needed it. He finally set a boundary and told his brother not to write him asking for money anymore. That he would be more than happy to keep in touch, but he was sick of being used. Unfortunately, he never heard from his brother again. He was sick of being taken for granted.

Maybe my dad had lost faith in humanity at the end of his life. No one wanted to help him, the doctors saying he was fine. He was always the helper, and there was no one to help him. Gosh, I can relate to that sorrow he had. When faith in others just brings sorrow and regret.

My faith in humanity may not be where it once was. My spirit feels let down and tired. That spark isn’t as bright anymore. Drained and exhausted, trying to figure out how to move on and not let my light dwindle. Lots of forgiveness to work through.

How did Jesus do it? He was persecuted, yelled at, accused of many false things, hurt, beaten, and so much more. But his spirit was strong. He loved his enemies. A quote comes to mind from Hank Smith. Boundaries are key.

I have faith that I will get through this. I have faith that my dad tried his best, with everything thrown at him. His upbringing and all the sorrow he had gone through. I also have faith that we can all do better. I am not perfect, never will be, but I know I can work on myself and try and love others. That’s being Christlike.

A quote from a book I am reading, about France being taken over by Nazi’s during WWll. A young teen girl is talking with a nun at her local church: “You’re not alone, and you’re not the one in charge,” Mother said gently. “Ask for help when you need it, and give help when you can. I think that is how we serve God—and each other and ourselves—in times as dark as these.”

Isn’t that so powerful? We are not in charge, as much as we want to be. Pride and status are ugly things. God is in charge. And we serve Him by helping others. By doing that, we help ourselves by becoming true disciples of Christ.

I am not going to lose faith in myself. I matter and I am loved by my Heavenly Father. And so are you!



Storing Grief For Another Day

I remember this picture being taken. He wanted both of us to pose the same way. We rarely took pictures, but I am so glad we took this one.

My grief’s waves have slowed down a bit lately. The boat I am on feels safe and secure, but I know there’s a storm brewing that will make the waves grow stronger. But I don’t want to think about that. I just want to ride the boat, basque in the sun with a smile on my face as the slow waves push me along my path.

It feels like it was forever ago that my dad was alive. I feel like my memories are fading. In a morbid way of thinking, sometimes I read my past blog posts so that I can remember those feelings I had. So that I can FEEL something about my dad again. I feel ashamed to even admit that. It just seems like its all fading away. It feels like a bad dream.

I took down my dad’s remembrance shelf where I had pictures of him, his very worn bible, his favorite cup, and American flags. I took them down over a year ago to do something else with the shelf. I put everything into a bin and just haven’t felt the need to put it back up. I feel like I am a horrible daughter to not want all his things back up where my kids and I can see them! I don’t hate him, I am not angry, I guess I just don’t have the energy to be hit with another grief wave that might come if I put them back.

I want to keep his memory alive. But how do I do that if I am not willing to listen to his music, put his pictures on display, or think about memories we’ve shared? I am in one of those grief stages that feels…. weird. One that I can’t really describe. One that I haven’t really experienced before. Is it contentment? Moving on and trying to enjoy my life? Just being numb to the grief? I don’t know.

I do know that things will change and I will be at that stage where I can confront the music, pictures, and memories again. I am ok with that. I have to continue to love myself and be grateful for where I am in this journey.

Lately though, I have really needed him. We had this one of a kind relationship. He was not a man of many words and didn’t really know how to say the right things when trying to comfort me when I was a teen, but he was PRESENT. He listened to me. He loved me. He was proud of me. I just want to go back to the memories. When we worked together. He would visit me in the office any chance he would get. I was very proud of him too. Everyone at work knew him and loved him.

His presence is what I truly miss. Maybe if I share memories, it will help me come out of this numb grief state I am in. Almost like my grief is on pause at the moment.

He picked me up at a friends house late at night, no questions asked.

I was harassed in middle school. He recorded what the people were saying (who were harassing me) and he took me down to the police station to file a police report. As much as I just wanted to hide and forget about it, his presence and his actions to shield and help his daughter taught me so much about loyalty and love. He was so angry and upset when he knew about what was happening. (I haven’t really shared this with anyone before, so I feel VERY vulnerable!)

He was present at every soccer game and every soccer practice. He sometimes would come straight to practice from work, with his uniform still on and driving his work truck. I had to sit in the back of the van on the ride home, hiding because he would get in trouble if I was in the company van with him!

He brought me to church with him. Just me and him. I remember being young and in Sunday school but was crying because I didn’t want to be alone. So my dad brought me with him into the adult worship hour and I sat next to him excited to be close to him. He bought me the beginners Bible and I would sit next to him on Sundays and we would read a few pages. He bought church children magazine subscriptions for me to read along with videos from Focus on the Family. I really loved those magazines and videos. Years later, I invited him to a church I was attending in high school and we would go together.

He took me to a fish store across town that he heard about from work. Together we picked out a fish tank, colorful rocks, and fix to go in it. He would clean it out with me too, which was not an easy task.

Anytime we were out running errands, which was usually every Saturday, we would stop at 7-11 to get slurpees or soda. He taught me the trick of sticking your finger in the soda so it doesn’t foam up. I know, not real Covid compliant.

He picked me up from the movie theaters that my friend and I were at. Usually my mom would take and pick up me and my friends. But in this specific day, he picked me up and told me my grandpa died. My dad was the one that would be the first to tell me about anything sad. He had a real soft side that no one really saw, through his gruff, quiet exterior. He was the one who called me in the middle of the night when I was in college in a different city to tell me my grandma died. He was the one that told me about one of our dogs that passed away while I was visiting my sister. Because of this, I would come to him first when things went sour in my life. Bad breakups, pregnancy complications, death, or any of those hard things to talk about. Not my mom, it was my dad who I told.

He helped me with all of my science projects throughout my time in school.

He came to the hospital as fast as he could after work to see me when I broke my arm as a kid. I remember him walking up to me with fear and compassion in his eyes, while still wearing his work uniform.

I think it was him that sparked my interest in engineering and pursuing my education in that area. We worked on cars, worked outside, reloaded bullets, ultimately figured out problems and fixed them together. I wanted to be an engineer since middle school. I eventually went to school for both mechanical and civil engineering, and worked my way into making a CAD career in the engineering field. We were able to ‘talk shop’ when it came to our jobs (with one of my jobs being at the same company as his at one point).

At his retirement party, he cried and gave me the biggest hug (my dad was NOT a hugger at all). He was sad that he wasn’t able to be PRESENT for me anymore because my mom and him were moving to a different state. He asked my uncle to take over for him and look after me. Mind you I was 20 years old and could take care of myself (thanks to my dad’s teachings) but I knew he was going to miss our times together.

I feel like I was my dad’s little shadow. The boy he always wanted haha. Because of his presence and example he gave me, he got a daughter that was strong enough to tell the boys off (and maybe add a few karate kicks in there that we learned from a class we took together), taught me how to fend for myself, taught me how to work hard (I had been working since I was 15 until I had kids), taught me to love nature, taught me love our country and military, taught me how to have compassion for others, taught me of about our Savior, and so much more.

His presence is what I miss the most. I want so badly to call him and help me put a sprinkler system together. He knew exactly how to plan and prepare a lawn and a garden. I wish I could have him here to help me.

Most daughters have better relationships with their moms. Mine was with my dad. Now I LOVE my mom so much and she’s a great mom, so willing to help me with anything! The unspoken bond my dad and I shared was like none other. Not perfect but unique to us.

But there’s something about a daddy daughter relationship that I miss so much.



Carrying Trauma

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. My thoughts are a bit jumbled about my dad and life has just taken over. It makes me sad that I don’t think about him daily.

The trauma is still there. But the wound isn’t as fresh. I’ve gone so long now (over 4 years) since I’ve talked to my dad, even longer since I last saw him. Life moves on. But there’s a sadness with that too.

I am a different person with my grief. I have grown and evolved. I have witnessed so many little miracles and tender mercies. But some of that ‘noise’ isn’t so often anymore. I haven’t dreamt of my dad. I am not waiting for answers to my grief. It’s like a thing of the past. However, I am so grateful for those tender mercies I’ve experienced and how Heavenly Father helped me so much the first year. I still remember the feelings of peace and calm. And the answers that I received.

So yes, this trauma changed me. For the better. I am more mindful of situations and mental health. I have more compassion for others. I have a love for my Heavenly Father and a testimony of his love for me.

I miss my dad. Very much so. The other day, I had a split second thought of calling him to talk to him about something. It was heartbreaking that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him.

I carry this trauma with me always. Some times it’s been a burden to carry, but in spite of it all, I think I’ve carried it well.



Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is a tough day for me. I think about how my dad loved his country so much and was grateful for all those that served.

Growing up, I remember my dad taking me to Veteran’s Day parades. Just him and I. He had such pride for all the current and past military citizens. There were a few times that he would go by himself to the parade because I was an emotional pre teen that didn’t want to go. Now I wish I had.

My dad would go out of his way to anyone in uniform, to stop and tell them thank you for their service. My dad knew what it was like sacrificing his life and family by being in the military, Navy to be exact. He did not make a career out of the Navy, only being enlisted for 2 years. However, I believe those 2 years had a big impact on his life. He spent 2 tours in Vietnam. He saw things that no one should see. He had fun though too. He told me once that once his chores were done on the ship, he would go down and hang out at the beach for awhile. He missed his moms marriage while he was away at war. My grandpa (step grandpa I guess, I never met my biological grandpa), this man my grandma married was MY grandpa I loved so much. They were together until they died. So he missed a pretty big moment while being away.

I had a dream early this morning about a Veteran’s Day parade. I was lined up to watch a parade in a small town. I was sitting on the side of the street, looking at all the flags lined up in front of the row houses, moving ever so slightly in the breeze. My life seemed to stand still. It was just me, alone sitting on this deserted street. I felt so alone. My dad wasn’t there to see it and I couldn’t feel his presence. That despair and loneliness was so isolating. I was left to cry on that street, alone, wishing my dad was with me.

Sometimes my grief feels like that. Isolated and alone. No one truly knows what I am going through. What I am thinking. What I am questioning. It’s hard. And it’s lonely.

And that’s why I share my story and continue to do so. You are not alone in your grief. We may not have the same struggles with grief or the same outlook, but we still are experiencing all the emotions of this grief. I think our burden lifts a little when we share it. No one wants to feel alone. It’s lonely and depressing! So that’s why I share. We can lift each other up. And to give people hope that they aren’t alone in this grief struggle.

It has been awhile since I personally talked about my grief to someone. I finally did yesterday and it felt so good. Just a small chat turned into an amazing conversation. We found out we shared even more similarities with our grief struggle. It felt so dang good to connect and share our thoughts and feelings!

I hope you have a friend in your life that you can confide in and share your thoughts with. And know that you are not alone, however lonely this grief may feel.

Happy Veteran’s Day Dad. I love you so much!



He Did Not Give Up

My dad’s last writing

I took this picture when searching the house for answers. There has got to be a note left or something in the house letting us know he was planning this. We needed answers! Found nothing of that sort. What I did find was that my dad tried hard to get help. He didn’t give up.

About an hour after I got the dreaded phone call that my dad was gone, I left my house in Nevada before the sun came up. I had my baby with me and countless energy drinks, water, and jerky to keep me awake. I was running on adrenaline during the 8 hour drive to Arizona where my family lived. My mom wanted me to fly, she worried about me driving by myself with my 6 month old. I reassured her I was fine and I that I just wanted to get there. Whenever I stopped to get gas or tried to find a decent place with a changing table, I felt like, ‘how is life moving on? How are these people shopping, smiling, and going about their day?’. It was so bizarre the feeling I had. That my life shut down and everyone around me is moving on with life. I was in slow mo.

That day was a blur. We stayed in the front room for most of the day. Not daring to navigate to my dad’s bedroom where it happened.

The next day or so, I started to desperately search for answers. I took a picture of what my dad left on the table, everything in place. His glasses were set down like so, his paper and pen were put down where he last touched it, the night before. I read the note he left. I cringed. He wrote down some of the medications I told him about.

As a back story, my dad was not a man of patience. He wanted things done then and there. He didn’t wait. So to appease him and to maybe provide him with some assurance, I researched medications that could be used for men that have hot flashes from cancer hormone therapy. I remember feeling that I may have just made a mistake after I told him there might be some medications he could take for it. He demanded the names and wrote them down, asking me over and over for the correct spelling. I knew he was going to bring it up to the doctor. He was an adamant man at times, so I can only imagine how painful that conversation with his doctor was. He was demanding meds and the dr didn’t want to give it to him.

Another medication that I told him about in our last conversation, 3 days before he died, was an anti depressant. I told him about Zoloft and how it has worked well for me for years. I told him he was depressed and that this could really help him. However, he was worried about the side effects. He already had side effects from the hormone shots (awful hot flashes). He didn’t want to add anything else he would have to deal with. I told him there are little to no side effects. But like the note shows, he wrote ‘no’ and didn’t want to ask for it from his doctor.

My dad had called his doctor on Christmas Eve wanting to get these meds. The doctor said that these medications probably wouldn’t work for him, and then proceeded to give my dad tips on how to deal with hot flashes. I don’t think the doctor could hear the despair in his voice. After that call, my dad immediately called me and said there’s nothing the doctor could do. He was so very depressed and sounded like all hope was gone.

My dad had circled 2 dates on his note. 12-26 and 12-27. These dates were the days my sister could go to the doctor with my dad to see what other options could be done to help relieve my dad’s pain. He had the number to call to make the appointment. I don’t honestly know if he called the doctor to set up an appointment. By the time 12-27 came around, he was gone. He couldn’t wait any longer. The last call with his doctor just really defeated him. Hope was lost.

My dad tried so hard to get help. He talked with friends who had prostate cancer and dealt with some of the same issues. He went to the hospital a few times in pain. He called his doctor because he had enough. He just could not take another day suffering.

My dad did NOT give up. He tried so hard to get help and to feel better. His impatience took over. His suffering blinded him. He couldn’t bear the pain he was going through. It’s takes bravery to reach out for help. It also took bravely to end his life.

I know he didn’t want to end his life like that.

I know he loved us with all his heart.

I know he didn’t want us to deal with the after effects of his death.

I know he didn’t want us to go through the trauma of it all.

I know he didn’t want us to become depressed.

I know he didn’t want us to suffer.

It’s hard to rehash the feelings and emotions attached to my dads death. Its hard to navigate these emotions while still trying to be a good wife and a good mom to my 7 children. I feel like a failure most days. But I am not giving up. This momma might take a break from writing and anything to do with suicide. But that’s how I might heal. The journey on this complicated grief coaster is not easy. So do what is best for you!



Helping Others Who Are Dealing with Suicide Loss

Sadly, suicide isn’t going away. What can we do to help those that are effected by suicide? I might have some helpful tips.

Before my dad died, suicide grief itself is not something I’ve had to deal with before. Yes, I’ve known people in my life that have taken their lives. I went to a friend’s funeral that died tragically this way. Before my dad’s death, I’ve been naive to suicide, I will admit it. And I think most people are naive who haven’t gone through this tough grief personally. I’ve said things nonchalantly or in a joking way that I will never say again. I used to say, jokingly, ‘these kids make me want to jump off a cliff!’ And, ‘just kill me now’. Or the hand notion of putting a gun to ones head and pretending to pull the trigger. Those phrases and hand gestures are what makes me wince in pain when I hear them. I don’t want people to feel bad or apologize, but I want people to be aware that it may not be a respectful thing to say. Those effected by suicide may not take it lightly. I don’t get offended when someone says those things because I know that person doesn’t mean it in a malicious manner. However, it still hurts.

Now that I know first hand what it’s like to deal with the complicated grief of suicide loss, I can give you some advice on how we can help others who are dealing with this horrible pain.

– Check in on the person or family that is dealing with this complicated grief.

A short text.

A simple call.

A card in the mail.

A weekly inspiration quote in a text.

A little gift sent to their house.

Show them that they are loved. Don’t get offended if they don’t answer or acknowledge a gift. Just keep trying and keep the communication going even if it’s one sided for awhile. I promise you that person is truly grateful for your love.

– pray for guidance. Ask how we can be a servant to those that are hurting. Listen to the promptings. A text of, ‘Hey you’ve come across my mind, how are you doing?’

– Sometimes it’s hard to reach out because you don’t know what to say. Acknowledge the pain the person is experiencing and let them know you are there to help them. ‘I know that you are in pain and it breaks my heart. How can I help you get through this, together?’ Just letting the person know that you are rooting for them is so helpful.

– People have different needs in their grief journey. Be patient and kind, and be in tune to what that person might need. Meals, chocolate, babysitting, a listening ear.

– Just love the person. When words don’t seem to come out right, offer a hug.

– Don’t say, ‘I don’t know how you are going to get through this’ or ‘I don’t know how you do it, I wouldn’t be able to’. No one asked for this type of grief, and we are on survival mode. We do it because we have to. Not because we wanted this. Just be considerate of their feelings. Their life is shattered and so is their heart.

Here are some books that have helped me get through the beginnings of my grief:

The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide by Brandy Lidbeck. I ordered this book the first week after my dad died. It’s a great book to read when the wound of Suicide is so fresh. The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide

One Breath at a Time: Lessons on Grief and Growth by Gabrielle Shiozawa. I recently read this book and loved it. She is so aspiring with her wisdom and growth after losing her dad to a heart attack. It’s not a book about suicide loss, but there are so many similarities in her grief journey that I have experienced. She references many gospel doctrines which really helps put things in perspective and helps to provide peace.

My church has some great resources to help those that have lost a loved one to suicide.

For those that are suffering with the fresh wound of suicide loss, please hold on. I am here to tell you, you will find peace! I couldn’t fathom how I would get through the first weeks and months, but I did. It’s been almost 4 years since I lost my dad. 4! I still miss him and I still have my sad days, but I have over come some huge mountains in my grief journey. It’s going to be a crazy roller coaster, just hang on for the ride. It gets better, I promise.




I had a dream that my dad abandoned us. He was here one day and the next day he was gone. No goodbyes, no I love you’s. He just left forever. I woke up realizing it wasn’t just a dream. It was reality.

Saturday mornings were devoted to lawn work. My dad would wake up early to mow the front and backyard lawn, work on the sprinklers, and work in his garden. In my pre teen years, I so wanted to sleep in on the weekends. But I would often be woken up by the sound of the lawnmower at 7am. No more sleeping in for me. I had work to do. My job was to sweep away the grass clippings and tidy up the patio. I grumbled about this most days but I wanted to please my dad so I did it anyways. At one point, I had to completely take over the lawn duties for a few months. My dad broke his arm from falling off a ladder at work. He had to have surgery to implant metal plates in his arm to secure the broken bone. He had a few months of his arm in a sling along with physical therapy. He taught me how to use the law mower to cut the grass every week. My 12 year old body had a tough time pushing the lawn mower, but my dad was really patient with me even though I was so hard on myself and wanted to give up. I was relieved of my duties (thank goodness) once his arm healed enough where he could use the lawnmower. I was back to sweeping off of the patio, quite humbled that I didn’t have to push the huge lawnmower again.

In my dream (nightmare, actually), I was outside with my dad and he was mowing the lawn. I could smell the aroma of fresh lawn clippings, and felt the warmth of the sun on a Saturday morning. I went back inside for some water. When I went to the backyard, he was gone. I was left with this horrible feeling of abandonment. He left us (my mom, sister, and I). Just completely deserted us. There was no explanation, no goodbyes, and no I love you’s. Nothing. He was there one minute, working on the yard, and the next minute he purposely left us. I was angry, sad, and lonely in my dream. I felt like a huge chunk of my soul was gone. Empty.

Then I woke up. The dream, in fact, was reality. My dad abandoned us almost 4 years ago. No goodbye letter, nothing to tell us why he left this life, or that he was sorry. Just gone. In my dream, I was reliving the abandonment and emptiness I felt when my dad died.

Grief is a funny thing. It likes to keep me on my toes, doesn’t want me to forget the anger, pain, and sorrow of those first few vulnerable months after my dad died. However, I know this is not what my dad wants me to feel. These feelings and awful dream is not coming from a divine, Heavenly place. It’s coming from a dark place, perhaps tucked away in a dark, cold place in my brain labeled ‘dark grief-don’t open’.

I have some options. I can be angry at my situation. I can question why I am in pain and why my dad left. So many deep, dark emotions I can feel. But that will only lead me to a darker place. Another option, which I prefer to take, is that I can sit with these emotions for a little bit. Understand where they are coming from and why. Then I can move on. Tuck the dark emotions back into that cold, dark file in my brain. Hoping to not see them again anytime soon. Now I know those emotions are still there and it will show it’s ugly face when I least expect it, but I am prepared. I have Heavenly Father’s love to get me through it. I have grief experiences and coping skills to help me through it. I have family and friends to help me through it. Times will not always be dark. We have to choose the light.




Ever got a splinter that didn’t hurt? I didn’t think so. How can a tiny, minuscule wooden needle stuck in the tips of our fingers hurt so bad? My dad’s internal splinters overwhelmed him.

My dad went through many jobs when he was younger. Truck driver, computer tech, to name a couple. When I was around 3 years old, he started working at a gas company as a service technician. Working with his hands seemed to fulfill him more than a desk job or driving a truck. He truly loved helping people, so by helping people fix something, it brought him joy. Some days were extra hard. He would work in higher crime areas where he would see things that would tear at his heart, and often put him in danger. During the summers, he worked in the desert heat, coming home drenched in sweat, tired and exhausted. He was a hard worker and took his job seriously. I don’t ever remember him having a sick day.

Some days he would come home with splinters in his fingers. During his days working, he sometimes had to climb over fences and other hurdles to get to the gas meter. The days that he came home with splinters, he got out the magnifying glass, took a seat at the kitchen table and called me over to remove the tiny splinters. I ran to his aid, wanting to relieve his pain. As I would dig into his finger with a safety pin and tweezers, doing my magic (I had become quite good at removing his splinters over the years), he would look away trying to hide the pain. I don’t know why, but touching that tiny splinter with a safety pin sends a zap throughout your fingers and hands! So there were times that my dad would let out a quick moan and twitch his finger. I can remember his face during those times. I hated it. I wanted to quickly help him and make it all better.

When my dad was hurting inside and out from his ailments towards the last year of his life, I wanted so badly to remove the internal splinters he felt. It was so hard not being able to fix it for him, like when I would remove the splinters and put bandaids on his finger. Bandaids couldn’t help him the last months of his life. He tried so hard, and those bandaids would eventually fall off, opening his wound. He would then try a different bandaid. None worked. The internal splinters were just too hard for him to cope with.

We all have internal splinters. Sometimes they are unbearable. And sometimes they aren’t noticeable. That’s how I feel about my grief journey. But I am proud of my internal splinters because I can use them to help others! I can teach others how to minimize the pain. I can help by showing that these splinters are what makes us who we are. We all have internal splinters of life, there’s no way to avoid them. We just need to accept them and learn to live with them.

I will forever be grateful for my dad’s example of hard work. I cherish the memories of him wearing his uniform and his beloved jackets. It brings a smile to my face when I drive by a company truck. I was proud of him and what he sacrificed for his family.

Tell your parents you are proud of them. Too often it’s our parents that tell us that, but what about them? Each person has their own internal splinters, trying to hide the pain. Our parents too.

I am so very proud of you, Dad. I just wish I could have told you that more. Maybe that would have put a bandaid on your splinters, and maybe that would have kept you here longer. Or maybe not. I just know that you are a brave, compassionate, and hard working soul. And I am proud to call you Dad.