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  • Writer's pictureKelly Neff

12-Years Later


In the minutes, hours, days, and weeks following the loss of my oldest son to suicide, I wondered if my life would ever be the same.


Today, twelve years later, I am sitting here on my couch, looking out the window at the blue skies, green trees, and mountains off in the distance, pondering all that has happened in my life since the evening of September 7th, 2011.


Would my life ever be the same? The answer is no. Tragic loss is brutal, and here is the brutal truth…anyone who has experienced tragic loss will attest that their life has never again been the same. This is a fact.


It may be a fact, but it is a difficult concept to process and accept because as human beings, we desperately want things to go back to normal. Sometimes, well-meaning folks, who really do care about us, expect us to be as we were before, as soon as possible. You see, they are extremely uncomfortable with the idea that we can never again be the same. Sometimes they are so uncomfortable that they get frustrated with us in our grief and may even speak words like, “you just need to get over it.”


If someone has spoken those words to you, my friend, please know that they have no idea what they are asking of you. They have no idea what they are asking, because they have no idea where you are right now. They have no idea where you are, because they have never been there.


One of the best resources that helped me through my most difficult days was other people who had experienced a loss like mine and who were willing to spend time with me. These people became forever friends, who were truly lifelines for me in those early days, simply because they understood. My friend, you are not alone. There are others who know and understand your pain.


Twelve years later, I can tell you that my life is not the same, but in many ways, I am a better me. Losing my son forced me to take a deep and honest look inside myself for the first time. Losing my son forced me to decide how I was going to walk forward. Would I let it destroy me or would I choose to learn and grow from it? I chose the latter, maybe just because it's in my nature to be a stubborn fighter. All I can tell you is that it was a conscious and intentional choice. Every. Single. Day. It was excruciating at first, but as I began taking steps toward hope, healing, and freedom, things began to change inside me for the better. I share this with you to give you hope that there can be good that comes from your grief. Please don't allow your grief to fuel your destruction. Instead, use your grief as fuel to learn and grow into a better you and go places you never imagined you could go, one step at a time.


I have come to believe that it is impossible to speak into someone else's life about something you have never personally experienced. You can’t give something that you don’t have. That's why it's so important that you share your story! Your story is a gift to someone else who shares your experience and who desperately needs to feel seen, heard, and understood. There is someone out there who needs to hear what only you can say.


Much love to you, my friend. xoxo😘





💗 Tommy, I love and miss you every single day! Love, mom 💗


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