Nathalie Evans, chairwoman of the planning committee for the Suicide Survivors Remembrance Ceremony, holds a photo of her daughter Wendy, who she lost to suicide in 2005.
continued She said part of her goal for the ceremony is to help break the stigma attached to suicide and to spread awareness about it. Most people who have never gone through the tragedy are unable to understand what it’s like and she said she’s seen the callous comments people can make firsthand.
“I don’t think people realize when they’re talking how hurtful things can be that they say. Talking about a situation they’ve never been in before and have no clue the pain,” said Evans.
The first day her grandson returned to school after his mother’s funeral, Evans said a classmate told him his mother “must not love him” or she “wouldn’t have done that.” She was floored.
“Nothing compares to a death by suicide,” said Evans.
Kristi Beuth-Schilling is also a suicide survivor. She lost her husband to suicide in 2007 and shortly thereafter moved to Latham from Massachusetts to raise her three children.
“I saw an ad in a paper and decided to go (to the ceremony). I’m happy I did because it’s a very good ceremony, very healing and surprising that not more people know about this, especially since there’s not a lot around for suicide survivors,” said Beuth-Schilling.
She said she attended support group after support group but didn’t truly begin to heal until the Suicide Survivors Remembrance Ceremony. Now, she’s on the committee.
“I wanted to become involved in the committee and maybe expand it and every year hopefully if we only get two or three more people and help one person, we’re doing our job and giving them hope that life goes on after suicide,” said Beuth-Schilling. “Even as horrible as it may be, you can build your life.”
She is a shining example of that sentiment. It took years, but she was able to dig herself out of the deep hole of grief she found herself in, widowed at 38 and single mother to three young children.