Moved by her candor, gift for writing and the topic itself, I reached out to Greene for the rest of the story. Our lengthy interview pulled back the curtain on a remarkable woman who feels both pain and a passion to prevent another heartbreaking moment like hers.
As Greene writes in her poignant letter, she was shopping nearly a year ago in Whole Foods when her phone rang. With just a few words, Greene’s life changed forever. Her father, Lowell Herman, had committed suicide. Consumed by shock and sobs, Greene collapsed to the floor and was cared for by strangers. Her beautiful letter is a heartfelt thank you to those angels and the opening, she prays, of a national conversation.
Greene described the challenging 10 months since her father’s death and her decision to go public with both her grief and her thanks. She would have penned the letter earlier, if not for the barriers of guilt and trauma so often associated with suicide loss.
“It took time for the walls to come down and for me to understand my thoughts and feelings about that morning,” Greene said. “I struggled with a lot of anger and it was hard to access some of the feelings I wanted to convey. I have done a lot of work since then in support groups and therapy.”
Greene added that writing became a way of grieving out loud. The more she wrote, the more she healed. The more she healed, the more she recognized she wasn’t alone.
“We have got to talk more about suicide,” Greene told me with a dash of force. “Grief is grief, no matter why we’re living it, but suicide is uniquely complicated. And more than any topic, it silences a room. I’ve been very blessed by friends and my beloved family who’ve helped me through this, but it’s been hard. Suicide is just different. People don’t always know what to say. And so sometimes, they say nothing.”
Like most suicides, Greene’s father’s came as a gut-punch surprise. Although the family knew he had battled depression and anxiety, he’d been getting help and, as far as they knew, had never been suicidal. Looking back now, with all they have since learned about the signs that someone might be in crisis, they wish they’d asked the most important question: “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”
Greene, married to a rabbi and with her own long history in Judaism, admits to a complicated relationship to God since her father’s death.
“The casualty of loss makes faith difficult. It’s not a question of do I believe — I believe strongly in my faith — but I’m trying to learn how to talk God again,” she said. “I was so angry. I remember the first time I went back to synagogue I just sobbed. My husband told me I didn’t need to come if it was painful, but I told him I wanted to let God know that I’m still in it.”
With the explosive popularity of her letter, Greene is more than just in it, she’s all over it.
“I had no idea this would happen, this response is amazing,” she said. “I want to move forward into advocacy and make meaning of my father’s death.”
As the months crawl by, Greene reflects on her parents’ nearly 50-year marriage and the beautiful family they built together.
“Yet the love that surrounded him was not enough to combat the relentless voices of depression and anxiety that took hold and metastasized into his soul and spirit. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
While Greene confides that she still feels lost, she’s less angry now. And that softening has helped her recognize that God has not left her alone.
“He will patiently wait for me to find my way back,” she said.
More than anything, Greene believes she cannot allow her father’s suicide to be for nothing.
“It cannot be senseless. I’ve learned so much about what we all might have done to save him, it’s time to raise my voice to prevent another family from suffering this kind of horrible loss,” she said. “I want to write and talk about suicide loss and grief to open eyes.”
If the success of her opening to this conversation is any indication, the world is ready to read, listen and see.
This handsome Grandson of ours Kai, just turned 4 years old! We love him so much! He is quite taken with Superman, and so for his birthday...his Mom and Dad made him the coolest Super Hero Party ever!
It is so hard to believe that he is already 4, I love that boy so much! I love being able to create for him and create with him.
He loves to do anything with me, even my back exercises! :)
He loves to do anything with color!
He even wanted to try sewing and quilting with me! He was great!
He like both of his Grandfathers... is even good with wood creations! Look at this Reindeer he and his Dad created!
He is the best Big Brother ever! Oakley is a very blessed little girl to have such a wonderful big Brother!
We got to FaceTime with him tonight and watch him open his Birthday present from us. He has had so much company since his Birthday...we decided to wait till things settled down.
This is what I made for Kai's Birthday. Thought it was appropriate since his Grandpa works at Boeing! I thought he might need a place to tuck his animals to bed at night!
I look at this picture of Bradley as a Father, and I can hardly believe that he himself grew up this fast. There is something about a Moms and their boys... that is so Special! Then there is a part of your heart that a Grandson has... that is pretty Special too!
Oh how we love you Hezekiah, you are good boy and I think you are the only Super Hero ...that your Nana and Poppa would ever need! Happy Birthday!
I love Easter! I love knowing that because of Jesus Christ, that our family gets to be a Forever Family, if we but live a good life and keep the commandments! What a gift! What a message of Hope, to know that we will live again!
For years, I have been counseling women who are battling Cancer. The people I find it harest to help or comfort were ...those who do not believe in God or JesusChrist. It's as is they have no anchor and it makes me realize who grateful that I had this knowledge ever since I was a little girl. How thankful I am that my little grandchildren are being raised in homes that have that knowledge and conviction too! It will be just such a light for them throughout their lives! And every kid deserves to be taught about HOPE!
Here is our handsome little Kai, who just turned 4 years old! Miss him so much!
This is the cute Woodard Family in Texas! What a beautiful family! We feel so blessed to have them!
(above )Our son Bradley with his little ones, Oakley and Mr. Kai!
Then Lee and Caitlin ( his fiance) are in Rexbur,g and we are hoping to see them this Spring Break!
And Lauren and Nik are still in Rexburg too! Miss all of them so much!
We decided to go to Amy and John's ward today, so that we could be with them for Easter! It went well and once again we were able to here the beautiful songs and messages about Christ and His life!
Then we came back and had dinner, an Easter egg hunt in the house. We even got to break confetti eggs all over each other! I think it is a tradition from Texas? :)
So grateful for the knowledge , that we can be a Forever Family...all because of our Savior Jesus Christ!!
Today was my dear friend and neighbor's funeral!
Wow, what a beautiful service it was... and how honored
we were to be there with her family! Wished all of my
kids could have been there with us!
I only hope I could
have touched as many lives as she did!
The weather turned out sunny and beautiful, which seemed
to be ordered from above.
Tomorrow is Easter, because of what the Savior did for all of
us, this dear family knows that they will get to see their dear
Wife, Mother and Grandmother again!
What a touching, tough, and wonderful day... today was!
Good Night dear friends, and I hope you have a wonderful Easter tomorrow!
When you recieve some of these items... tissues, cards, flowers, soup or even a handmade quilt or afghan...what do you think of?
I think of love, hope, comfort, empathy, courage, support, healing and many other feelings.
I have been blessed in my life to recieve each of these things and more ...from dear friends and family. It really did make me feel loved and comforted. It really helped me remember that I wasn't alone in my battle and that I had more support than I even could imagine.
I think that is what we are suppose to do.
Help and uplift each other throughout our lives! And also to support and share in the joys and
happiness that life brings too!
This past month I have lost two more friends. One was a sweet fellow quilter who always came to my Demo Classes! And the other was another fellow quilter who was also my neigbhor for years!
Also, we have had a couple of our friends who have been diagnosed with Cancer or another serious illness. Then we have seen Miracles in some of our other's friend's life. Wonderful blessings, answered prayers that they had waited so long for!
Life truely is made of wonderful and heartbreaking experiences.
But I really believe we are to be Angels here on earth to each other!
Giving Hope and Comfort, as well gratitude for the good things that happen in life.
May we all take time out to look around each day and see if any one around us needs, a tissue, some flowers, a card, maybe some homemade soup or even a handmade gift, just to show them how much they are loved and thought of, and most important...remind them that they aren't alone?
Our youngest son Lee proposed to his girlfriend Caitlin tonight in Idaho. He worked long and hard to make it look just picture perfect. And with the help of his talented sister Lauren ( the photographer ), and many of his friends, you can see for yourself...I think he accomplished it!
How exciting, our last kid is getting married, hard to believe he has grown up so fast!
He even made the ring box with the help of Lauren and his friend!
Each time when I teach a class, I always try to find something uplifting and motivating to share with them along with ...whatever I am teaching. It is not really part of my job, but I guess it is the Motivational Speaker in me, I love when I hear something uplifting and motivating, so I like to just pass it on.
I hadn't found anything for my class today, and then I looked at my phone ( right for I went to work ) and saw my sweet daughter-in-law had sent me these articles, and they went along perfect with my class.
We were learning how to make Reusable Bags!
Try to take a look at the articles if you can, so fun to see so many people ...who are making such a great Difference in the world!
I hope to become one of them!
Good Night dear friends!
Recycling plus generosity equals mats for the homeless
September 28, 2013|By Jeff Bahr, firstname.lastname@example.org
American News Photo by Jeff Bahr
A group of women at Our Savior Lutheran Church start with a product that many would regard as garbage — plastic grocery bags.
To those bags, they add time and dedication, and wind up with a mat that a homeless person in a country far away can sleep upon.
Five hundred to 700 bags go into each mat, which measures 6 feet by 3 feet. The women gather every Monday year round at the Aberdeen church. Producing the mats requires several different jobs, so the women form an assembly line. The result is similar to a rag rug, only made from a different material.
Why do the women tackle the project every Monday afternoon?