Every parent is terrified of losing their child. And when you do, it's a secretive world. In this episode, learn what it's like to experience child loss and live as a bereaved parent today, where more support is needed through compassion and awareness. The same as it was when I became a bereaved mom in 2005.
This is a candid and poignant conversation with bereaved mom Susan Sackel, who shares her experience losing her 6-year-old son Logan in February 2021 to accidental death, and a warning to other parents about the perils of blind cords for children of older ages.
Susan has been courageous enough to talk openly about her experience of child loss and bereavement, to provide awareness and education for others in support of all bereaved parents, and as part of her advocacy for safety of children of all ages related to accidental death from blind cords. She also shares what motivates her to keep going and how she is finding healing through the choices she makes every single day.
0:00 Introduction to this episode.
3:47 Susan's world turned upside down
10:39 Cultural approach to grief
14:33 Susan's kids too young for therapy
20:28 How to deal with the loss of a child
24:41 How does it feel to lose a child?
31:29 Dream visits from Logan
37:10 What Susan does to support her recovery
40:26 Putting one step forward
43:50 The rules of culture
45:34 What do you say to bereaved parents?
47:23 The silent danger of blind cords
51:53 Child loss - the most painful journey
53:39 Support and lifelong resources
57:12 Pangs and triggers
58:39 I had to look for employment, couldn't explain the gap
1:02:03 If we don't express ourselves, how are we going to change anything?
1:06:17 We need time and grace
1:08:53 You don't need to be afraid of bereaved parents
1:13:33 Mental health on the forefront
1:16:21 Are we going to remember their voice?
1:18:37 Uncertainty what the future holds, embrace the discomfort
1:22:24 Guilty feeling joy again
1:25:41 Susan's message to bereaved parents
Further resources can be found at these links:
BOOKS (by Vonne Solís)
"Lessons in Surviving Suicide – A Letter to My Daughter"
"Divine Healing Transforming Pain into Personal Power – A Guide to Heal Pain From Child Loss, Suicide and Other Grief"
"The Power of Change"
BLOG, ONLINE COURSE AND MEDITATIONS (by Vonne Solis)
The Compassionate Friends (CANADA)
The Compassionate Friends (USA)
Bereaved Parents of the USA
How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies (and other resources by Therese A. Rando, Ph.D)
Vonne Solis 0:00
Welcome to another episode of Grief Talk. Everything you want to know about grief and more. I'm your host, Vonne Solis. As an author, life transformation coach, online instructor and bereaved mom since 2005, I'll be bringing you great content that is informative, inspiring and practical. Whether you have suffered a loss or other adversity, stay tuned and tapped in as I cover a variety of topics to help you get where you want to go on your journey to heal and grow.
Vonne Solis 0:31
Today's guest is Susan Sackel. A bereaved mom since February 2021, when she lost her six year old son to accidental death. Susan has a message for all parents out there about the warning of blinds with cords and the safety measures that should be taken to ward off this type of accidental death, of not only babies and toddlers, but also children of older ages. Susan also shares her journey through bereavement to this point and it has been a privilege for us to chat together, as two bereaved moms to provide awareness, inspiration and education to others.
Vonne Solis 1:10
Welcome to the show, Susan. I am so grateful and so happy that you have decided to come on this podcast and have a chat with me.
Susan Sackel 1:21
Thank you, Vonne for having me. I think what you're doing is much needed in our society. So thank you so much for everything.
Vonne Solis 1:31
You're totally totally welcome. So for my audience, as I explained in the introduction, Susan is a, what I would consider a newly bereaved mom, and she's going to tell you about the parts of her story that she's willing to share. But I am a bereaved mom now for over 17 years, and so what's so interesting for me about this conversation with you, Susan, and having you come on the show, and why I'm so grateful, is I've done a lot of work in the platform of advocacy, grief, support, awareness. In my case, I lost a 22 year old daughter to suicide, so our circumstances, our losses are very different. But the grief is relatively the same. I have yet to meet a bereaved parent where they haven't said, Yep, me too. Yep, me too.
Vonne Solis 2:21
And so this conversation is for my audience to bring awareness to what it's really like. We're real, living human beings, mothers who have lost children. And there's millions of us out there, but there's more millions that are not bereaved parents. So it's to help anyone listening or watching this episode, you know, to help you learn some of the things that we struggle with. What we need. That you don't have to be afraid of us. And for, you know, employers, and health professionals, and anybody else that we touched on as a topic today, to really understand it's very, very difficult for the bereaved to ask for what they need. And so Susan, you being here today, really lends a voice to those that are increasing on this planet that we live on - that would be the bereaved parent planet, as part of the greater more what I will just call mainstream world, but for the non bereaved parents, so that we can give them some tips and tools to how better to support us. As I said, related to everything we're going to be talking about today. So on that note, Susan, I will just ask you, with the greatest respect and sensitivity, if you just want to share your story with others, and then I'll dive into some questions for you.
Susan Sackel 3:47
On February 5th, 2021, basically, my world was turned upside down. My son, Logan, was six when he passed. He tragically hung himself with the blind cords on his window. So, and this was during virtual school. And he was in first grade, but the camera wasn't required to be on. So unfortunately, you know, that tragedy happened and my two sons who are now soon to be 12, and 10, found their younger brother hanging. So it greatly impacted our family in a different way, that, you know, they had to experience something like that. So, with that said, literally, I mean, I felt like I was in a different world when that happened. I mean, you can't even comprehend at that moment. I'm going on my second year right now. And literally, I feel like it's my first year. I think the first year and even now somewhat, I was in total shock about what happened. And also trying to keep myself together, because I have three other kids. Twelve, ten and five. Two boys and my youngest is a girl.
Susan Sackel 5:15
So my life felt like it stopped. My world literally did stop. But in reality, I had to keep on moving. So that was a year of just getting through whatever I had to get through. The support I had from my family was enormous. And with friends, and even strangers, just people I didn't know who heard my story were there for me. So, um, you know, the first year was a blur. I'm sure a lot of bereaved parents can understand that. So my second, almost finished my second year right now, I'm going through a lot of challenges. I'm really facing the reality of the situation.
Vonne Solis 6:06
Yeah. I, I may have to pause sometimes through this. I have a lot of compassion and love actually, for every single bereaved parent. And I think that actually just naturally develops sometimes and often very quickly between us. We are like a tribe. And you don't even have to say another word and you just get it. Because guaranteed, while our circumstances might be different, our challenges might be different, trauma is trauma. Shock is shock. Pain is pain. Confusion and loss of identity and all those things that we feel and struggle with. Secondary losses. I picked up a really great therapy book in my very early grief and honestly, I can't remember the name of it right now, but if I get it, I'll pop it in the description below audience, and it was written by a therapist and touched on general grief. But the biggest thing I learned from that was to prepare for secondary losses. And those things are like financial, relationships, partnerships, jobs.
Vonne Solis 6:27
There are a lot of things that happen to bereaved parents as we struggle and find our way through the first few years. Because I think the shock hangs on for quite a while, myself. And then, what you just said, and I'm going to touch on that a little bit for you and for my audience, I can still remember, you said like the reality sinking in. And I think for me, it took a few years. I literally think it took a few years. Because it's just you're so dumbfounded about what happened. Never mind all the whys and guilt and all that, but just what happened. It is I think, possibly part of the trauma. But also, it's just nobody can really believe they're gone.
Vonne Solis 8:09
So, on that note, I just know, looking back, and I'm going to try and comfort you and I'm going to try and comfort the audience. So I remember it vividly. And I remember the pain and I remember the angst and I remember the searching. Okay? In my heart and in my mind and in the sky and in the stars. And where are you? Where are you? Where are you? But it did actually fade. And as the years go by, and you develop an acceptance. More than acknowledging the reality of it, but kind of developing an acceptance. So I it kind of fades. But you need an awful lot of tools and support to keep on the journey. Because the other thing that's so hard is to understand the journey is forever. It's never going to end. And I also, before I before I go on, honestly, Susan, I am offering my deepest, deepest sincerest condolences to you and your family and other loved ones on the loss of dear sweet, wonderful, beautiful little Logan. And my prayer for you would be, if this hasn't started already, that you will be able to see his presence, and this won't probably happened soon because I'm still struggling with it 17 years later, but to be grateful for his presence to teach you what you will learn from this. And just for the part that he did play in your family and probably will continue to play in your family forevermore. But that is a very long road in my experience and opinion but each person is different. And those that can get to this point much much sooner than I could, and can, more power. I respect that. But it's the not being able to really be grateful for their presence. I'm striving to get there to feel that without the pain and I'm still struggling with that. So I just want to put that out there right up front.
Vonne Solis 10:11
So when you said you had support, so I know you're coming up two years in February, and then you get into your three and four, and so on and so forth. Has that support changed for you along the way? Like, is there anything in your experience that surprised you by people falling away? Or the support that you might be looking for a little more than beyond family? So support groups, things like that? Do you have that available in your area? And if if yes, would you seek it?
Susan Sackel 10:38
So in the midst of my son's passing, in the second year, I decided to get a divorce. And it wasn't because of my son's passing, it was just more of a light that was kind of shined on my life. And if I was happy, and, you know, that was like, grateful for, you know, the life I had. Which I am, but I wasn't happy. I was grateful for, I'm truly still grateful for everything that I have, but I wasn't happy. So I decided to get a divorce. And I'm mentioning that because when it comes to support, it totally disappeared. Once the divorce came into the picture. I come from a culture where you know, it's really not a good thing to get a divorce. So unfortunately, that became the focus during my early years of grieving. So my family support totally diminished, unfortunately, and I had to rely on friends, even strangers just to get through it. I'm emotional about it, because I have a very close family in general. So it really took me by surprise that my divorce would be the focus instead of my grief and what I was going through. Which I totally understand from their perspective. Where they're coming from. But at the same time, I mean, they just don't, unless you've lost a child, you do not understand what we're going through. Only if you have lost a child, do you understand what I'm saying.
Vonne Solis 12:24
Yeah. So I don't want to sound insensitive. So only answer what you want to hear. Can you sort of explain the cultural approach, if you will, to, well, loss in general, and specifically, in this case, loss of a child. Would they be holding everything in? Or is the tendency, just you're not going to talk about it. We're going to move on and upward?
Susan Sackel 12:48
You know, honestly, I think everyone handles grief differently. And this includes extended family. You know, the grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. So I can't really say. From my experience, from a cultural aspect, it doesn't have to really do with culture. It's just more their perspective. Like, you know, you're already going through this immense tragedy. Why would you add on to that? But the thing that they don't understand, as a grieving Mom, I'm seeking light, I'm seeking happiness. I'm seeking anything to survive. To want to be in this world and live a happy life with my kids. Like, when you are at that point, in the beginning of your journey, you're grasping for anything. Whether anyone thinks is good or bad for you is irrelevant, because they're not going through that pain. They're not going through that suffering. So no one really can judge you for what you're doing.
Vonne Solis 13:49
I agree. You need a wide berth for a long time. Probably forever to do what you need to do.
Susan Sackel 13:56
Even if people haven't lost a child, I tell people do what makes you happy. I tell my kids that too. So my kids, um, as far as support was concerned, honestly, the school was lacking. I mean, there's so many kids that need help.
Vonne Solis 14:13
Susan Sackel 14:13
The schools are just not equipped or educated enough to help these kids. So they basically fell through the cracks and no fault of the school, it's just that they're overburdened with a lot of kids that have issues. So, you know, I say that, you know, parents have to be really diligent if they have surviving siblings be mindful. For me, my kids are, I think, a little too young to go to therapy still. And they also have a great support system in our neighbourhood. They have tons of friends that they hang out with every day. They go outside and play. So for me right now, that is their therapy, but obviously in the long run, I would like them to see or talk to someone, you know, about what's going on in their lives. But I'm navigating that day by day. I monitor their wellness all the time, knowing that, you know, they found their brother first. So I can't even imagine what goes through their mind. So I just try to stay positive for them. In the beginning of my journey, I don't know what it was, but I worked very hard after the first year of changing my mindset and my perspective, and how I thought, I think because literally, it was like, do I want to live in hell? Or do I want to try and survive on this earth until my time comes? So there's those two choices I weighed and for me, it was I want to be happy. This is like a whole clean slate for me. I feel like
Vonne Solis 15:51
Susan Sackel 15:51
I've been given another chance to do this correct this time. And do what I feel like is good for me and my kids, obviously. They're always going to be number one so that's not in question. But I truly believe as a mom, if you're not well, and you don't take care of yourself first and do a lot of self-care and self-love and be kind to yourself. If you need to take time off and get away from your kids, you don't need to feel guilty. Everyone needs that time away to just recharge, focus and just breathe. So I truly believe that, as a mom of, you know, siblings that lost their brother, that my wellness is priority, actually. Because if I'm not in a good place, how am I going to teach my kids to be in a good place? And, you know, have hope for this journey?
Vonne Solis 16:49
Yeah. One of the reasons I really, I think we connected and I gravitated so much to you is because you remind me of me, like those years ago. And I felt exactly the same. And so one of my big motivators for not letting this tragedy, which most people think is the worst loss - loss of a child, I needed to be there for my son who was 13 at the time his sister died. She was 22 so there was quite a gap between my children. But one thing, I'll just say for the audience, when you were touching on your children and they're not ready, you know, thinking they're not ready for therapy and mom's instinct is always right. So one of the things I would do differently, if I had to go back. God forbid. I do not want to go back and repeat this experience. And I will also tell anyone who might be newer to grief, child loss and for you Susan as well, when those years finally come where there's enough distance, and you're out of survival mode, and you're in living mode again, and you can sort of step back and be a bit more objective about it, you can see, well, this is what I would have done different.
Vonne Solis 18:03
So part of my work is to help people as early on, think, not do, but just consider, geez, do I need that? Because even though I was going to ask you this a bit later, but we got to it earlier about the school system not being able, we're not blaming schools, but even 17 years ago, even I, you know, went and did as much as I could to get my son support. And it just did not work out. There was no support for him. None, zero, none. The only sibling grief support that was available, and I'm in Canada, was at the hospital if the sibling who had died had died in hospital care. And that's it. So from a suicide, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I missed the cues of family therapy. So I'm just saying for anybody that wants to consider this that maybe in this situation, if I had to do it again, I would focus on family therapy. Instead I focused on relationship therapy. Yeah, no! That's not what we needed. And we needed family therapy. And as a result, I feel that my son at 30, he has never reached out to my knowledge for support. And I feel, not that that's hindered him in his progress, but I absolutely feel that that trauma that may have happened. I'm not saying he had PTSD, nothing like that, but it's trauma for everybody. And second of all, it's seen the surviving children seeing what mom and or dad are going through and they can take on the responsibility for our happiness. And your kids, blessedly, may still be a little too young to feel that and hopefully they won't grow into feeling that responsibility. But in some ways, I kind of think that happened to my son.
Vonne Solis 20:05
But focusing more on the school, we asked him, do you want to go to therapy? So I left the decision to him. Which at 13, I thought, okay, but he was probably just as confused. And some days he wanted to go. And other days, he didn't want to go. But mostly he didn't want to be seen as different by his peers. So it was left alone. And we did speak to teachers. And we did let them know he had lost his sister, because he did get ill. He did show signs of lack of motivation, and so on. And actually, it wasn't even lack of motivation. It was his inability to keep up with the pressure of the assignments and things like that. And so they leveled off a little bit. And they worked with him without making it obvious what had happened. But as I've said, in my books I've written in that he basically, I felt lived a double life. And you know what? Looking back, maybe that's okay. Like, maybe that's okay, too. And like what you're saying, your kids go out and play, and they have fun. I do have a question though, Susan, only answer if you want to. Do you talk about Logan with your surviving kids? Do you agree with that approach, talking about Logan with the family and the kids?
Susan Sackel 21:22
I embrace it. Because they're not in therapy, I am almost like their therapist in that way to talk about Logan. And I bring up memories what he used to like. What he didn't like. I would ask them do you remember this? And I know it's uncomfortable for them because mommy cries when we talk about Logan, right? So I'm always getting teary eyed or emotional, but I told them that's okay. You should cry because you gotta let those feelings out. Right? So I talk about Logan all the time. I have his pictures around the house. Green was his favourite colour, so the kids know, you know anything green reminds us of Logan. When we see a green car we shout out, Hi Logan!, when we're on the beltway. I've come up with like little things because how can we forget Logan, you know? He was six, almost seven years part of our life.
Vonne Solis 22:16
Susan Sackel 22:17
And our best friend. So their brother. So yes, I know. It's so difficult though. I cry all the time when I talk about my Logan. I understand the pain and the suffering of looking at the pictures. Even now, it's devastating looking at his pictures. It's very hard. It's not easy. I don't think of always happy memories. It's more the future. Oh my goodness. I'm never gonna see him, you know, grow into a man. Get married. Like the you know what's lost. But the fact is, you got to go through those emotions and hash them out. But you also have to still live. We still live in this reality. This world. Although we are 50% here, I'm sure, and 50% you know, where our kids are, reality is, our time is still left here. And until then, I chose to live a better life.
Susan Sackel 23:23
I made a lot of changes in my life. Every day I battled in my mind. Every day I grieve still. It never leaves you. Literally grief is always there 24/7. So do I want to sit here and suffer constantly? This is what I ask myself. I understand, you know, Logan's, never coming back and all those memories. But those are the things that will suffocate you if you stay there. It's okay to go there and you have to. But to stay there for a long time, it's very hard to get back. So I encourage people to have like music. Any kind of program that they listen to. People that they talk to or just even stepping outside for that moment where you're feeling that immense pain, to just breathe, and just get a breath of fresh air. Because I feel like when you can, you have those tools to snap out of those moments, it gets easier. But you have to try. It's an every day deal. Like you said, our grief will never leave us until we leave this earth. Until we meet our children again, right? So I mean that's what I think.
Vonne Solis 24:44
Do you, I'm so curious because there's a couple of things I just wanted to ask you given you're newer in the the grief world. So when I was in it, there was zero tolerance to talk about my daughter freely. You know, the more I had to go out, it took maybe four or five years before I really went out into the world again, professionally. I did some odd jobs and I won't go into it here, because we needed money. And you know, when you're surviving, you just go out and do what you have to do. But even in that scenario, I never felt I had the freedom to talk about my daughter. To talk about my loss. And you and I, I think have the same type of constitution. So we're not only wired to want to, you know, live our best life for ourselves, because we deserve it. And there's nothing we can do to change the situation.
Vonne Solis 25:34
But I did meet some bereaved parents when I was in my first year of grief that had been in for years and years and years, and they looked as broken as the first days and weeks. And I thought, No, I can't let myself be like that. And I'm going to be quite honest here. If I were to show people, if I even have it, in some ways, I hope I have my first passport picture I had to get taken. It was in that time period, maybe the first three years, and you wouldn't recognize me. Like, because I was just so shattered. I was a shell of myself. And that's fine. That is expected to happen. You look beautiful and gorgeous, by the way. And I was also going to say, have you considered a career in like counselling or coaching? Because you would absolutely, in time in time, be I mean, just a wonderful light and somebody wonderful. Oh, absolutely. I see that for you. But what do you think of support groups and reaching out? I've met a lot of people that don't do that. Fewer go to support groups, then don't. What's your view on that? Just personally, I'm just curious. When you first became bereaved, were there pamphlets? If you saw medical physicians, did they give you the pamphlets and say, Here, this is available. That's available. Like what kind of support do you have in your area?
Susan Sackel 26:59
So and you know what, that's why I truly appreciate what you do. Because in my, um, seriously, in the beginning of my grief journey, there was no outlet. And this was a more difficult time because it was during COVID 2021.
Vonne Solis 27:16
Susan Sackel 27:17
So people are definitely not meeting in person, right? Which I feel like is more important versus Zoom or on the computer because this is a situation where like, I mean, you want to hug people you know I mean? You want to be there for them. Hold their hand. Like it's not, I feel like it's too cold over the computer. So unfortunately that wasn't available. So I literally Googled anything and everything in the beginning. Like, where is my son, you know? Where do people go when they pass? What happens to them? Are they still alive? I mean, you know, all those questions that I'm seeking, I'm googling. So thank God for technology. I don't love it always, but yeah, during that time that pretty much saved me. I went into Quora, I don't know if you're familiar with that, but it's like online. You just go on there and people ask questions and answer. But one of the questions on there was, how does it feel to lose a child? That was one of the questions. And I did, I did answer that question. So those are the ways I sought support going online. I also joined a Facebook group, helping parents heal. I think it's a big one on Facebook. So I pretty much went online to get my support. And I went to therapy for a couple of months. But to be honest with you, and I'm just gonna be really straightforward with this. This kind of journey, it really takes, like a lot of willpower from within. From yourself. Because at the end of the day, at nighttime, when you're sitting there thinking, you know, tears are rolling down your face. It's just you.
Vonne Solis 29:09
For sure, Susan, and you've got to live with you. I wanted to ask, have you heard of The Compassionate Friends? Are they in your area?
Susan Sackel 29:19
I'm not sure honestly.
Vonne Solis 29:21
The Compassionate Friends that is strictly for bereaved parents, and I believe grandparents, and there is a large organization, The Bereaved Parents of the USA, and they have chapters all over the place. I'm just saying for anybody. You're in the New York area are you Susan?
Susan Sackel 29:41
I'm in Maryland.
Vonne Solis 29:41
So for anybody, but in any State, if you are a bereaved parent watching this and feel that you want to get some physical support, those are two organizations. I'll put the main link to the United States chapter and the Canadian Association, I should say. And then from there, you can branch off and check and see If they have local chapters in your area. Because they are really a wonderful, wonderful resource, and it started many years ago, and it's global. And so the one thing about this support group, it's it's a coming together and sharing your story. And then they have like annual things that they do every single year, like, you know, a candlelight ceremony in December and different things. And that will be particular, I guess, to each chapter.
Vonne Solis 30:28
So I just wanted to reiterate, so my experience again over these years, is a lot of people don't want to reach out for support. And so one, the support, they can't find it. And just like you mentioned, Susan, everything you were searching for, and I love that you, Where did my child go? Of course, we all wanted to know that. And I have a background in metaphysics and spirituality for 40 years. And my daughter came to visit me right away, right away within hours. And so she had visits with me for many years. Very regular visits. Some healings, things like that take place. So I have to believe in ongoing consciousness and that while they're not alive in physical form, they are very, very present in energy form. And if we're very, very lucky, our kids will come and visit us. I don't know if you've had that yet with Logan. Maybe not. Have you had a visit with him yet?
Susan Sackel 31:29
Um, shortly after he passed, I think it was a week or two, I did have dream visits from him, too. And I actually had an incident. I'm not sure if it's okay to share this, but it was actually pretty miraculous. In his room, and this is in the midst of end of February. It's freezing cold in Maryland at that time, we had honey bees show up in his room!
Vonne Solis 31:55
Susan Sackel 31:57
Where he, where he passed, honey bees would show up. So, I'm like, do I have a hive in my wall? Right? Um, well, it's winter. How are the surviving this?
Vonne Solis 32:06
Susan Sackel 32:07
So I called a beekeeper. He came. And he's like, I don't know where they're coming from. These bees were in my house for probably a week. And I captured them and I released them, because I don't want to definitely not kill them, right. And I knew I know, like honeybees are in decline. And you know.
Vonne Solis 32:22
Was there a, like a sort of a connection between honey bees and Logan?
Susan Sackel 32:26
Honestly, I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that out. I think it's a message to me to be honest with you. I'm figuring that out. But I'm just like, where did these bees come from? It literally was a true like, like mystery, right? I knew it was from Logan. I knew it was a sign from Logan and, to say that he was okay.
Vonne Solis 32:48
Yes, yes. And, and, you know, I just have to throw this in there. So one of the things that saved me in my first three years, two and a half to three years, was I had daily emails with women who I had met on a prayer board and a suicide board. And we emailed. One was daily, every other day. And the other two were sort of weekly. And I was able to express my emotions and all of this stuff and it really kept me going. But this one lady, her son had passed in his early 40s from a surgery that so it was an unexpected passing. And it was so interesting, because she so desperately wanted to connect with him. And I was having all these visits, and she was so happy for me. And you know, her grandchildren could see her son, like in 3d form. Yes, yes. And they would say there's uncle so and so. And, you know, and I don't know if she ever did get to have a visit herself. But if we open ourselves up to that vibration of energy to let them in and trust, all I'm gonna say about that is when you know it's a visit, or you know, it's a sign, it is. And by the way they do visit us in the astral, like in our dream. And what I've done to determine the difference between a visit and dreaming about them, is in a visit, I remember it vividly. I have remembered pretty well every visit, astral visit. And there's always been a message. And there is an absolute feeling emitting from my daughter of pure love. Like pureness. And it is so empowering and impacting, it can actually be very painful too. It's a double edged sword. So you do know and from all I've studied over the decades about this energy and them being able to visit us, they also have to lower their vibration to be able to get into the human, your elevated energy. They still have to do that. And I did a week's mediumship training with James van Prague a medium in 2015, and turned out I was pretty good at it because I've been an Angel Healing Practitioner since 2006. So the energy was already open for me. They definitely live in ongoing consciousness. Where they are, I don't know. I'm just saying, me I see it as that we are, we've all, we all go back to some kind of energy form. That's how I look at it.
Susan Sackel 35:38
With knowing that information for me, I mean, that was a game changer, because, in the beginning of my journey. Because I'm like, in the beginning, I'm like, Oh, my goodness, I'm never gonna see him again. You know what I mean? Like, it's this is done, right?
Vonne Solis 35:52
Susan Sackel 35:52
But then once I realized he was still around, that for me, it was a game changer. Because I'm like, Ah, then I can I can still survive. I have to.
Vonne Solis 36:06
It's so comforting, right?
Susan Sackel 36:08
It is. Knowing that they're, they're not gone. Right? So with that said, that helped me a lot in the beginning of my journey. With all these signs that he was sending. The bees was a huge one.
Vonne Solis 36:22
Susan Sackel 36:23
Unexplainable, literally. Right? So knowing that, I hope parents, if they can be open minded and feel it. I mean, I think in the end, right now, the grief is so immense, even for me, that I can't feel it. You know, like those dreams. I'm sure parents are like, Oh, how come I'm not getting it? It's because this grief is a tricky thing. It's so powerful for us grieving parents. It's a daily thing we have to manage. We have to prepare for it. Kind of know what's expected and to prevent it. So I have a lot of anxiety sometimes. When things change. And with that anxiety, it cripples me. I literally can't type sometimes. Like I'm shaking because I have so much anxiety.
Vonne Solis 37:10
Susan Sackel 37:10
But honestly, I think, for me breathing. I do a lot of yoga. I know you mentioned like, what do I do?
Vonne Solis 37:19
Susan Sackel 37:20
For me, is not just people, it's the things I do, too. So support for me, my yoga literally is my therapy, I don't go into therapy because yoga is my therapy. I found a lot more benefits and value in that versus talking to a therapist. And don't get me wrong, that's just me. This is my journey. And I do have a lot of other people that I can just talk to in general. And I do express myself well. So that's why I don't have a therapist. But physically, for me, the anxiety has been the worst. I've never had anxiety in my life until my son passed. I was a happy go lucky person. And then now I have this physical feeling that is trapped within me. Like, it's this energy trapped within me, right? And the yoga truly, I mean, mind, body, and spirit helps me 100%. I do hiking as well. I run. So for me, physical activity and being out in nature is critical. Nature for me is my medicine. I feel so much better when I just get outside and take a walk. So I encourage you know, parents that are going through this journey, to really take care of themselves and to implement some form of activity that they enjoy doing. Not that they have to. I love hiking, because you know, the nature. Yoga, it calms me down. I can see the good benefits from it. So everyone has to find their, you know, own thing, because it's really your own journey.
Vonne Solis 39:02
Yeah, I just want to ask here though, just because I saw it because I don't want to forget to ask you this. So, I 100% agree, we all have to find our own way. But the one thing I think, well maybe there's a couple things, that it is our constitution. That is, there's something within us that will not allow ourselves to wither up and die inside. So to do the yoga. To do the hiking. You know, whatever it is. For me, it was really, immediately starting to work with angels nine months after my daughter died. I certified as an Angel Therapy Practitioner with Doreen Virtue, and, I lived in that world quite a bit. And it was easier helping other people, but at the same time, I did my own journey. So I did online courses. I did you know, I did anything and everything that had sort of been part of my earlier foundation. But this time, I figured that I needed to go very gently. Like so, everything came into question for me. My whole foundation of metaphysics and spirituality. Where everything in the right and divine timing. We create our reality. There are no mistakes. And all of that kind of stuff. So when my daughter took her life, that was a lot to kind of go, I signed up for this? What?
Susan Sackel 40:26
Vonne Solis 40:26
But, not speaking for anybody else, understanding at the core, I do believe that. That is what propelled me to keep putting one step forward. Not just to survive, although we could have a long conversation about the difference between surviving and living and we don't have time for that today. But to want to get better. To want to heal. I myself am going to be very honest and say, I think my goals sometimes are a little too lofty. And, even today. And I think sometimes I ask more of myself than I am able to deliver. And so that's where I'm kind of needing to take a step back. I'll be very honest, I struggle with chronic ill health. And I don't mind owning that, because I owned several years ago, that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder nine years after my daughter died. And I absolutely believe it's one of the things that health professionals should check for bereaved parents, right off the bat. And if they don't have a health professional, do that, check for yourself if you even think remotely, you might have acquired PTSD. Because that was largely responsible for a lot of craziness I felt, that when I was reading books in the early, early, couple years, first couple years, and a lot of these bereaved parents, a lot of them written by, there aren't that many books out there, but the handful, even if there's 100, that's still not enough, they all said they felt like they had gone crazy. And I was like, what? Like, no. I don't want to go through that. I don't want to go through that. Nobody gave me the answers I was looking for, which at which at the time, was, Was I ever going to be okay being on the planet without my daughter? My child?
Vonne Solis 42:21
So nobody has that answer. Because ultimately, that's for us to decide ourselves within. And what I learned and really, really got about three, four years ago, was that it's okay if we never get to that place. It's okay if we never fully heal. The goal for me, and all of the work that I do in authoring this platform, is to give people choice about what they could have for themselves, or envision for their life, when they're ready. And the moment you're ready, you know. You just know. Because and I'm going to tell you what's really important here. Again, having the ability to have some distance, and objectivity and look back and not be all consumed by pain. Because there are days that you're more consumed by pain than not. And today, that is just not the case for me. I have a fairly content life and lifestyle. And I'm learning to honour my daughter's presence. I now have enough of that distance, where I can now look and say, to her and to myself, Okay, am I ready to be really grateful that this happened? And while I wouldn't want to do this, again, ever, I'm tipping more to feeling that than still being in too much pain to even consider that.
Vonne Solis 43:50
I do want to just really quickly talk here, even for yourself. That survival thing. So even making choices in the early days, weeks, months, years. Where you're committed and saying, I'm going to do more than survive this, there is still the balancing that has to take place with the humanness of the experience. But it is the will and the intent to overcome as much of that as possible. To get to a point where it becomes beautifully integrated, as this happened. And I am now okay that this happened. I didn't like it and I don't like it, but I accept it. And one day we'll be together again, for those of us that think that, with our lost loved one and our lost child. But even if we're not, that we're okay with the experience. Which is largely what I've been able to translate all of my work into becoming. But I'm not saying it's easy. I'm 100% not saying it is easy. And so the other thing I just want to quickly say about that for you and the audience is, if health practitioners, the education system, employers, and everybody and culture in general, made it permissible for us to be in this bereavement, and be open about it, and people weren't so scared about losing children and so on, I think it would help us heal a lot faster. Because we carry so much inside because of the rules of culture. Do you agree with that, Susan?
Susan Sackel 45:34
I do. I can feel it. Like when I mentioned my son's passing, like automatically, I can see the other person freeze up like what do I say? Oh, my goodness. Oh, sorry. So in our culture in the US, what I've experienced so far is, yeah, people don't know how to react. They don't know what to say to bereaved parents. I mean, what do you say? You know, like, as a bereaved parent, I tell people don't even worry about it. Like, don't even worry about. You know, sorry is great, but like, you really can't say anything to me. And that's okay.
Vonne Solis 46:06
But is it okay, Susan? Because I let it be okay for many years. And I was always going, it's okay. It's okay. And I was always comforting them. And one day I decided, you know, what? Why am I comforting them and saying, It's okay, it's okay, when I'm not okay with this. So in other words, they would say, I'm so sorry for your loss, if they had dared to ask me how many children I had, and I had decided to be truthful. So my response would always be when they gasped and went, Oh, it's okay. It's okay. And then one day, I decided about four years ago, Mmm, I don't think I want to say that. When they go, I'm really sorry, then I started going, me too. I'm really sorry it happened. So you're finding that today, years on from my experience, that people are still gasping when they dare ask you? Well, what would make you be honest, and let them know yoy'd lost Logan?
Susan Sackel 47:07
Honestly, I am a very honest person in general. So you know, I just tell people in my experience, like, you know, I lost my child. This is how he passed. And I tell people the story, because number one, it's the safety issue.
Vonne Solis 47:22
Susan Sackel 47:23
So I didn't touch, touch on in the beginning, because I was like, all nervous with nerves and everything. But I really do want to mention about the blind cords, because they are in many homes today, even still, and they are a silent, you know, danger. I have four kids. Raised them all with blind cords in my other house, and I had no issues. And they were toddlers then. My son, you know, tragically hung himself at almost seven years old. So when people think about the blind cords they think about babies and toddlers.
Vonne Solis 47:56
Susan Sackel 47:56
But it is a danger to kids in general. So, you know, I urge anyone that has blind cords to cut them off. Don't ever think, oh, that's never gonna happen to me. Because
Vonne Solis 48:08
Can you get blinds that don't have cords at all?
Susan Sackel 48:12
Oh, yeah. So now because of so many deaths, you know, upon, you know, reading about, you know, kids dying from hanging themselves with the blind cords, it's been going on for decades. It's a tragedy that they've even kept blind cords around for that long. So now, yes. You can still buy them online but in stores you cannot get blinds with cords anymore. So they're still available, but they're trying to change it now because they understand the risks and dangers. I mean, the deaths that happen.
Vonne Solis 48:44
This is so, so powerful that you've got a message for parents of young children and school aged children because you are the first person I have to say I ever met that this tragedy happened in your family. So if somebody out there is watching, or listening to this, and they happen to have blinds with cords, if they cut them off, there is like, they can still open their blinds, they just can't move them up and down. Is that right?
Susan Sackel 48:53
Yeah. So we didn't have any issues the first, you know, five years of raising our kids with blind cords. So it never even occurred to us or wasn't even mentioned. Like, honestly, I was never told that blind cords were a danger to my kids. So that's why I tell people my story. Because people just don't know. It's tragic. And it's horrifying to hear. But it's reality. My son died because of the blind cords, you know, by accidentally playing with it and hanging himself. So yeah, this is why I tell my story because that, if I can save one family or one parent from going through this devastation that I've gone through, I've done my job on this earth I feel like. If I can save one parent from going through that.
Vonne Solis 50:05
Yes, yes. Anybody watching or listening to this, I really know that you will feel the same respect for you, Susan, as I do sharing your story. Sharing your powerful messages. There are some people who lose their children and immediately go into a mission. A purpose. This is how MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving came about. This is how policy changes, government legislation has changed. There's a lot of you know, road safety things happen. It just depends on how you lost your child. And for me, I went into the kind of work I do, advocating and so on. Having said that, there are still a number, a large percentage of bereaved parents who get swallowed up whole, by the experience. And I believe that more voices and any voice actually, in our stories, help people heal and not feel so alone. And this is nothing to be embarrassed about when we lose our children, because the other thing is that no matter how they died, every parent feels responsible for that death and guilty and regret, and that they really should have and could have done something different. I'm not sure that we could have in any case, and I have struggled with that over many, many years. Many years, going, could I have done something different? And we look at our parenting and how awful it was. And we focus a lot on our mistakes, and so on. And I just really feel that, that is not the case, ultimately, and intellectually. And in my heart, I know that we've all done the best we could as parents, and some things are just out of our control. So don't beat yourself up.
Susan Sackel 51:53
Can I say that, you know, every parent that's, you know, going through this loss, in this journey, I think it's so important to pause many times, and be kind to yourself. Because life is just so quick and busy. And you get caught up in it and we make excuses. But this journey is literally the most painful journey ever. I don't care what anyone says. So, along the way, you have to be very kind to yourself, and understand you're gonna have good days, bad days. You're not gonna do anything one day, or you can, it doesn't matter. Don't judge yourself. Just be kind to yourself, and know that you're going through, like a horrible, horrible thing that you wish upon nobody. Even your worst enemy, right? So I just say to remember to be kind to yourself. And yes, like you said, we're definitely not alone. There's many parents out there. And I mean, I mean, I'm not saying this is a good club to be in, but we're not alone in this club.
Vonne Solis 53:00
As they say it's the most expensive membership fees to be in. And I've always, I've always remembered that.
Susan Sackel 53:08
I just urge parents that you know, feel stuck and don't want to communicate, even to just go online to Facebook or any kind of online community that helps parents, you know, through this journey. This is, I mean, I go on Facebook, and for me, it's therapeutic to respond to other people's suffering and pain. Be like, Hey, be positive. You know, I try to lift them up because I feel like that helps me heal, too, by helping other parents that are going through this.
Vonne Solis 53:39
Yeah. One thing I want to say, and nobody get mad at me out there watching or listening, but this was what I actually really did find. So support is very important. And just like you said, Susan, however, you can find it. Back 17 years ago, we didn't have Facebook and that. So we had chat and we had like prayer boards and we had like private boards. And I don't even know if they still exist, but somebody would administer them. And they were like a board. I actually think there might be a few of them out there for something but I don't know. So there were suicide boards and so on. And you would kind of apply to the administrator to join and then there was etiquette, obviously, like there is in most social media. But one of the things I found as I went to about three of them was that a lot of the members kind of wanted to stay where they were in their pain. And they weren't, they didn't, they weren't very receptive to the idea of wanting to get better. And at that time, in my earliest years, I was like, not really gung ho about this, but wanting to connect, I think with somebody who had similar views as me and were looking for ways to help each other out of the tragedy instead of just repeating the story over and over and over again. So that's the, that's the flip side of the support. And some support groups, in my opinion, is that they're designed for just sharing the story and what you may be going through, but not really coming away with a solid practice. And that is one thing that I really missed from the beginning was there was no where to go.
Vonne Solis 55:32
So it is on that note, I want to invite anybody that is watching or listening that I do have an online course. I'll put the details below. And I offer significant discounts 50%. It's not an expensive course at all. And for anybody that would like to take it and really is struggling, send me an email, you'll have my details below. And I will grant you access to it for free, not a problem. But I designed it, to help people in a step by step by step process, to really get themselves from one day to the next. Have the tools to be able to do that life long. Throughout all of their grief. Because the one thing I'm so sad to say, but forewarned is forearmed, is that grief can actually get more difficult the longer you're in it. And this was something I had read, and I didn't really understand. But it is a phenomenon that is very associated with bereaved parents. And I was really, I didn't understand that. But it was true. The pangs of what we feel right away, in after the loss can come back 5-10 years later. And you feel it just like it happened, right then, that day. And it could be triggers. Something that just sets you off, and then you can crumple in a heap. And it can feel like all the good work you've done on yourself is is out the window. But it's not.
Vonne Solis 57:12
These pangs and these triggers and what they produce largely are temporary. And I would invite anyone, when it does happen for you, is to use that as a gauge how far you've come. So it's a reminder that the pain is still there. Actually, I did have it recently just listening to some music about a month ago. And I was in the kitchen just you know, cleaning up, listening to some music. Because it took me a long time to be able to listen to music and so on. And I was overcome and overwhelmed by the same pain as in my very first weeks and months of grief. And I was like what is happening to me? And I literally had to stop. Take myself out of the situation. Cry. Take some breaths. And then go back. And I was like, wow! And so this pain lives within us.
Vonne Solis 58:09
But it's also a goal of mine to honour that and respect that. And as a result, if there's any health professional listening to that, educator, employer is to respect this process that we're going through. It does not mean that we can't be part of the mainstream. Far from it. I think we come out leaps and bounds in compassion and empathy and as very driven people. We're not a waste people. We're not a risk.
Vonne Solis 58:39
When I had to go and look for employment four and a half years after my daughter died, listen, I couldn't explain a gap. And the guy that eventually hired me, started me on a career that I stayed in for about seven years. And he Googled me. And because I was doing this other alternative healing stuff, he knew all about the suicide. He knew all about my life. And he hired me for that reason.
Susan Sackel 59:05
Vonne Solis 59:06
Yes. And that turned into a career for me at the time. And so, you know, I'm just saying, you know, when we feel like we have to hide what's happened. If you do have to take a gap in employment, right? For any reason, health reason, any reason. You can't function for the immediate, understood. We should be able to feel free enough on our resumes and in interviews, when they say, Well, why do you have this two year gap or this year gap? Whatever it is. We should be able to say, I have come through a tragedy. I lost my child but hey, I can deliver this, this and this for you. I'm not sure that Canada or the States is there yet. I don't know. What's your feeling on that?
Susan Sackel 59:53
I'll be honest with you, I just, so about seven months ago, I struck out I started a career. Because I was going through a divorce and I knew, you know, down the line, I would have to support help support my kids. And so I started that. And to be honest with you, I was very truthful with my employer. Like, Hey, I just lost my son. I'm going through grief. I'm going through divorce. I'm going through a lot of things. So knowing this, you know, they, you know, still wanted me on board. But you know, I, during the whole time there, I did express my feelings. Hey, I have a lot of anxiety today. I can't do this, because I'm I can't. My body's not letting me. So I was very open about it. I'm not suggesting that everyone should be like that because I understand people have, you know, fears about losing their jobs if they you know, and then you know, people need money. You gotta support yourself. So I understand that.
Susan Sackel 1:00:51
But I love what you said about honouring your feelings. I think honouring your feelings through this whole journey is just as important as everything else. And I think it takes a lot of courage to just even express, you know, what you're going like, you know, the grief, you know, even going through that grief or expressing to anyone takes a lot of courage. But I hope people will take that step to open that gateway. And companies to be like, Hey! I think people need more time for like, mental health days, you know what I mean? Like, not just like maternity leave, or sick leave or any of just those things. What about mental health days? Because everyone's going through something. Whether it be a child loss, depression, you know, the death of their parents. I mean, everyone's going through something job loss, a relationship, you know, that failed after 10 years. Divorce. So I feel like it's not really accepted, because it's seen, like, as a weakness, almost. Like, oh, what's wrong with that person? They're not mentally all there, you know what I mean? They're talking crazy stuff.
Susan Sackel 1:02:03
But if we don't take that step to express ourselves, how are we going to change anything? That's what I offer to people to think about. To be, you know, courageous about this for the next bereaved parent that's gonna go through this. Because that's life. People are born and they die, right? So life is always gonna throw you something. So I just encourage people to just, if you want to see change, and you're going through something or are dissatisfied to, to make that step. To take that step. Don't just sit there and complain about it and talk about it and cry about it. Actually, open yourself up and be like, hey, to your employer. I'm going through this, you know? Be real about it. And if they can't accept it, do you really want to be at a company that can't accept your feelings and honor, you know, what you're going through? I mean, I just, you know, throw that out there. Do you want to really stay at a company that supports you in that way? Because for me, and my journey, now, it has to be full. I need, I need help. I need support. I need people that are willing to bend over backwards for me if I need the help. Because I'm going through a huge tragedy in my life that I want to overcome. But I need that help. Don't be afraid. Like I never asked for help before my son passed. I did everything. Now. I ask everybody for help. I have no, no reservations about that. Because I just feel like, the more help you ask for and receive, it's like a, it's like a sort, it comes back to you. So it's like a give and take. I do encourage people just be courageous. You know, you're going you're going to death of your child. You can do this. You can express yourself. If you can get through the death of your child, you can do anything.
Vonne Solis 1:04:00
Oh, Susan, you're saying something that took me years to sort of understand. And trauma, I know, we're gonna wind this up soon, but I just want to also make very clear from my experience, and looking a whole lot into PTSD. From all I have researched, I have not come across anything that directly links PTSD to grief and specifically loss of a child. So it's adapting what I have learned and webinars, you know, that are sponsored by psychologists and psychiatrists working in trauma, and reading and so on. I adapt what what is sort of related to other types of situations that could cause PTSD. So that's first responders, jurors, whatever, and I adapt it to, well now, what would what would they do? How could I apply that to losing my child? Because it's just in a in a league of its own.
Vonne Solis 1:04:53
But I will say that when it came time for me to go on disability from my job in 2015, I had had many accommodations made. So they were very, very good that way. And they were a variety. And each accommodation eventually, you know, had me working four days at home. But eventually, it still led to a disability. So one thing I just want to say to folks is, we can drive ourselves. Oh my goodness. That's part of the survival, but drive ourselves to a point that we will collapse at some point if we don't take care of ourselves. And I did that. And when it comes to the point of collapse, I always wondered what that would feel like. Well, for me what it felt like was I couldn't get out of bed and I couldn't do anything anymore. And so I went on disability. And it was a complete educational process for me. Educating practitioners, my employer, my therapists, that I went to, what it was truly like. I came away from that, not surprisingly, like you said earlier in our conversation, unless you've gone through the experience, you're still kind of using models of therapy and models of HR to sort of treat things. And that's not, that is not what we need.
Vonne Solis 1:06:17
We need, the time and the grace, and the ability to be who we authentically are in this experience without being judged as weak, or unreliable, or a risk for anybody out there. Whether it's just having a conversation, and they stopped dead in their tracks because they can't deal with the fact that somebody they're talking to lost a child. So culturally, we need to change in every way. And as you just said a little bit a bit ago, Susan, we only can do this if we voice it. And we become strong enough to ask, if not demand, what we need. And in my disability, I got full disability for what I needed for the time I was in it. Which was max to the end. And then I and then I retired from my job and started a new life. But it's really not fun to go through stuff, feeling unsupported.
Vonne Solis 1:07:19
So I am not being critical of the lack of support. I am being hopeful that the more voices that people in those fields here, and maybe even work in, that they will understand the true needs of what we need. And for those of you grieving out there, please, please, please be strong enough and courageous enough to ask your doctor for what you need. You know, go to therapy if you have the means, the financial means to do it. And really just not be afraid to claim who you are and what you're going through at any given moment. Because in the end, we're not that different from anybody else. Are we Susan?
Susan Sackel 1:07:57
We all have issues and problems. And when someone's like oh, you know, I'm so sorry. You know, you lost your son, you know, that's the worst pain and, and I, and I'm thankful for that. But you know, what I say? I'm like, oh we all are going through something. We all are going through something. And no one's is worse, or, you know, less worse than the other person. Because we all deal with our issues differently. We're all special in our own ways. No one will go on the same journey. There's never the same journey and one and anyone's life, right? We're all individuals. We're special in our own way. Unique. That's what we need to honour. These emotions. These feelings that we're going through so that in the down the line, other people can be open and embrace it. Isn't that just common sense? Isn't that mental health really isn't that really good? That people are expressing their feelings?
Vonne Solis 1:08:53
So the other thing I want to say for those that may be watching or listening to this as well, is you don't need to be afraid of people, like parents like Susan and me and the countless other bereaved parents. Moms and dads out there. You're not going to catch what we have. We do need compassion. And we do need empathy. And it can really be a service to yourself to be wanting to learn more about our experiences. I'm forever grateful I had two experiences very briefly with two bereaved moms, at two separate times when my son was around 10 to 11. And they felt safe enough to tell me in each case that they had lost a child. Young children. And instead of me going, oh my God! I just said tell me about that. And I was very, very curious. And so little did I know I was going to be one of them a few short years later. But I know what it's done to me for many, many years to hide a part of my life that was so fundamentally important. Which was my daughter. And I don't have another daughter. So to have to hide that part of my life because people are too afraid to hear about it, that's when I decided no. This is not going to happen. And I mean, I'm as graceful as I can be about advocating in this area. Because when you have to, you know, tuck your identity away, or you lose it completely, because there's nowhere for you, there's nothing to do. So you don't know what to do. So you really have no identity. That's exactly what happened to me, with no disrespect to my son. I love him dearly. He's my only son. But he's now 30. My daughter would be 40 in February. And I'm like, but what happened? Because I have not been given the ability for these very long years, to talk so openly and you know, publicly about her other than in books and so on. People don't want to hear about her. So it makes like, I've lost a decade of time when I go, but I would have had a daughter turning 40. And like, but I can't. I'm a mom who has a son, that's 30, but you know, it's kind of complicated, but you get what I mean? And there's that missing piece in there. And so all I ask for everyone is just a little compassion, empathy, and to not be afraid, because what happens to other people is does not mean it's going to happen to you. Trust me.
Susan Sackel 1:11:32
And I think that anyone that's not a grieving parent, and you know what? Ask them about their child. I mean, we love talking about our children.
Vonne Solis 1:11:43
Yes! We do!
Susan Sackel 1:11:47
We want to talk about them. Remember them? I mean, why would we not?
Vonne Solis 1:11:52
I'm so glad you said that. Because a generation before me, so women in like, their 70s 80s, okay? And they, I found them to be very tight lipped. Don't talk about it. Don't say the name. And I remember meeting a woman, she was working in a dry cleaner. And she was probably at that time, I'm gonna say 15-20 years older than me. And we got to talking. And at that time, I was writing and releasing my first book. And, and I said to her, so we were talking about that. And so I said to her, Oh, what was your son's name? And she just about fell over. She said his name. And she said, she hadn't said his name in like, 20 years. I was like, what? And she wasn't allowed to say his name around all of her family and so on. And I've never forgotten that. And I was like, are you kidding me? And so generationally, also and that's why, again, I'm very appreciative for you chatting with me today, Susan, because you're a generation, or a little more, I don't know, behind me, and you can reach the people. Maybe in the younger generation, you're not as silent. Maybe there are more people like you coming forward No! And claiming, they have an easier time claiming their authentic experiences and their authenticity through the good through the bad. So I'm sure that your messages are going to reach people. And I'm very grateful again, to have you here. I just have one last question for you. And then I'm gonna let you go. But, so do you believe in the possibility of healing after the loss of your child?
Susan Sackel 1:13:33
If you asked me this a year ago, I would have been like, no. Oh, my goodness, how do you even get through this, right? Like, I can't even like live each minute, right? But now, only because I've put the hard work in starting a year ago, and really putting my mental health on the forefront and my happiness. And right now I'm at that moment, like I'm on the fence where I have so much discomfort, because I'm going through these emotions and acknowledging my trauma. The images in my head. So right now I can fully and honestly say, Yes. I truly believe if you put the work in and you really want to live a happy, joyful life and appreciate the life you have right now. Yes. You have to put the work in and it's a battle every day. But come on Vonne. You firsthand can tell us. You can, we can make it. You are our inspiration. Literally. Seriously. I'm not even joking.
Susan Sackel 1:14:40
Like, I'm so grateful for you and everything. Again, I'm gonna I could say this 100 times because I understand the need for this. The need for bereaved parents to have an outlet like this. Any outlet. Like you said, even if there's 100 books out there that still not enough. It's really not enough for what bereaved parents have been going through. Like I'm talking about from the beginning. You know how our society has really shut us down to not express our feelings about what's important to us. And the loss of our children is very important to us. Even though they're not physically here, they're still spiritually. I mean, if you believe in it, but for me, I feel like he's still around. And until that day comes, I don't, I choose. And I love that word, I choose to live a better life for myself. Because guess what? I have three other kids. I have three other kids.
Vonne Solis 1:15:43
Susan Sackel 1:15:43
And I know it's easier said than done. But because of them, like, and you know, losing a child, I even appreciate them a million times more than I did before. I want to spend quality time with them. I want to savour every minute with them because guess what? I couldn't do that with my you know, third son, Logan. So it's your perspective. It's all in the mind. I'm telling you. The mind can be a beautiful thing, but also very dangerous, because it could take you on a very dark path. But it's just like you said. Your willpower to want to survive. To want to, you know, be okay.
Vonne Solis 1:16:21
Exactly. And so you're you're basically already reiterating a lot of what it took me years to put together in my mind and to articulate it. It took me a long time trying this, trying that and being consumed by work. But what I found is the point we reach, whatever we put a lot of our energy into, and it can only be one or two things at a time and then it shifts and it becomes this and it becomes this. And hey, like there are things that take our attention in in certain years when we're in this bereavement process. And so it wasn't until six years ago, that I moved back west. It was very important for me to come back to BC, where I'm from in Canada and I live on Vancouver Island. I have the ocean near me. I needed to create things in my life, the mountains, that would bring me peace to just look at every day. But it's it's been, even for me, and I would love to sit down and talk to someone who's 30 years into this. Because I want to know, do you still think you're going to forget their voice in 30 years? And I grapple, that was one of the big questions. Are we going to remember their voice? And then what happens if we don't? Well, I can tell you at 17 years, I still remember my daughter's voice. Little things. I don't have lots of it, but some her laughs and a few things.
Vonne Solis 1:17:45
I was one, I wanted to just say really quickly, I was one of the people I couldn't look at pictures. I could not. I have about four in my condo. One blown up one and others and I can look at them. But it's that double edged sword where they never change. So that's what can catch you in this timelessness. This gap, where it just never changes. And our brains want it to change and it just doesn't change. And then there's just not enough out there to tell us how to get through that. So I admire you 100%. So people out there, it's grasping on to faith. Trust in yourself. You've got to have something. Faith does not necessarily mean a religious deity. Faith can just mean that one day I'm going to see a pinprick of light.
Susan Sackel 1:18:37
Before I lose my train of thought and because this is really important for I don't know where I'm at. There's a lot of discomfort and uncertainty, you know what the future holds. But I encourage people to embrace that discomfort and to try new things and to get out of their comfort zone. Because when you are in your comfort zone and you're feeling oh, everything is good, that means things are too stagnant. That means you're not really living life. You're just too comfortable at where you're at. Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing, is what I'm trying to say during this journey. You have to fight your way out of the uncomfortness and uncertainty by trying different things that you enjoy doing or that you thought you would never even do.
Susan Sackel 1:19:32
I just feel like during my journey, and I felt a lot of this during the changes and transformations that I went through the discomfort. But when that discomfort came, I just tried something different that I would not, like first I like going to a Halloween party. I would never do something like that but that's something I wanted to do. Right? Because I just truly believe your intuitions and what your soul is telling you, you gotta like really listen to it and trust yourself. I get a lot of people don't trust themselves and what they're feeling. But
Vonne Solis 1:20:08
Susan Sackel 1:20:09
for me that it's been almost like a saviour in my journey to go what feels right. Not what other people think. Not what my mind what my mind thinks. What my body feels. What my heart feels. Like what feels good to me or what doesn't.
Vonne Solis 1:20:26
The world can feel very scary for anyone newly bereaved. You can feel like it's going to swallow you up whole. You can worry for your surviving children, and that can consume you that something bad's gonna happen to them. Specifically that they're going to die. So everything, it's like you're saying. Some people will lose their identity and are going to have to rebuild themselves. But even if you don't necessarily lose your identity, although I'm going to wager and challenge anyone, because even in your own situation, Susan, where you're blessed with four beautiful souls and one leaves and is on the other side, you know, your dynamic has changed. And you have to rethink the family, everything. And that extra seat at the table and all of that stuff, and what to do at Christmas, and you know, all of all of those things.
Vonne Solis 1:21:12
So it takes a lot of willpower and it takes a lot of courage and for to start everything. It will seem like almost everything you have to do, you're doing it for the first time as a, as a new person. And you don't even know what that person is. So I'm going to actually put it out there as a broken person. I once worked with a therapist who tried to get me to reconsider that I was not broken. That I was changed. And well, I wanted to feel broken. And I wanted to be broken for as long as I needed to be broken. And for many years, I saw myself as this patchwork doll. This sort of like a porcelain doll would be the image. All bandaged up. And that's what I felt like. And so it's very important, we honour and own how we want to view ourselves. And if we want to be mad. If we want to be in pain. Of we want to be yelling at well, hopefully not yelling at someone, but if you do yell at someone in anger, just say hey, I'm sorry. I went off. I know that didn't make sense or whatever we. Sad. Whatever you want to be feeling honour that. And the same holds true when feelings of joy start to creep in.
Susan Sackel 1:22:22
Thank you for that. I love that.
Vonne Solis 1:22:24
Because we can feel very guilty feeling joy again. So I don't know if you can speak to that a little bit or not. But it can last for years, the more joy you open yourself up to feel. It's, and the problem with it is, not that we're feeling the joy. It's the problem is if I feel this much joy and happiness, I must not have loved my child enough. That's what I feel the biggest problem is with that, would you agree? I mean, I know you're still newly bereaved.
Susan Sackel 1:22:59
That's how I felt I felt in the beginning of the journey. Like oh my goodness, how can I be happy again? Like I wouldn't even feel right. Like my son passed, you know? Like, where is happiness? How am I gonna be ever happy again, right? But for me, and I know, it came quicker than you know, maybe most people, but it was my perspective on everything. My perspective really changed a lot of like, the my journey in general. And my perspective was, you know, I have three other kids and I just want to give them the best life now. Ever. Because they've already gone through so much right? Like already. So my perspective now is just to really honour, you know, my feelings. Hash it out as I have to. But the joy I feel for my kids is just I mean, immeasurable, right? The loss, like the love that you have for your child that you lost, I mean, that's that's love. That's the love you so much love that you have for them that you miss them so much. Right? So, for me, it's just channeling now, that three, two something I value. That I care about a lot. That I'm passionate about. And number one is my kids and their happiness.
Vonne Solis 1:23:11
Yes. And that will grow and expand.
Susan Sackel 1:24:25
It takes time. In your own time.
Vonne Solis 1:24:28
Yeah. Whatever you end up doing, Susan. Whatever transformation you're going to continue to go through, because we'll always be transforming into something more when we don't want a life of suffering, it's going to be beautiful. Expansive. And you have the the built-in tools already to help countless people should you so choose in whatever way you choose to do it. You've already been blessed with these built-in tools. This constitution, this perspective, this mindset, the certainty that you you need to have a life that is worthy of living. That is not one of suffering. And in this way, I do want to say for my closing bit that this is how we honour our children who have gone before us. I cannot let my daughter's choice to leave the planet, mar my life and have her remembered in that way. It's to honor her that I made a commitment to her right from the beginning, that I would beat this suffering. And I would do as much as I could to, you know, at the time, it's of my transition, I could say, you did, you did okay, girl!
Susan Sackel 1:25:40
You're doing great.
Vonne Solis 1:25:41
Yeah. So that's, that's my, that's my goal. Anyway, Susan, I could talk forever with you. But is there any any last things that you want to leave our audience with?
Susan Sackel 1:25:41
I just want to say to all the grieving parents out there is that, you know, there's always someone out there that understands. Like, when you're sitting there, and you're crying, and you're in your darkest moment, and you feel all alone, just remember that there's someone that understands exactly what you're going through. And I'm not saying like, you know, situational wise. I'm saying that pain. That came that we share is something that will connect bereaved parents forever. Like, I don't even need to know you cuz I know that you've lost a child, we're connected forever. Like, I'll be your friend forever. I'll be there for you. Like anyone that I come across, I know that's lost a child, I always offer my time, or my phone number. Call me. Text me. Three o'clock in the morning, I don't care. Like you could just say, I feel like crap. Like, I just want to die right now. I don't care, I, send it to me. Because I think everyone needs an outlet to express their feelings. Whether it be pen to paper or typing it or talking to someone or whatever it may be, you got to let it out. You got to let it go. You can't hold on to it forever because it will destroy you.
Vonne Solis 1:27:10
Yeah. One of my goals, I'll just say in closing, and I've been thinking about this for a couple of years is I want to start a community. It would have to be a virtual community. And I ran a global intention group for a year. If I can do that I can I can run a grief support group. If I do do this, the podcast is sort of a first step to being out there. And you know, being in real time, quote, real time, a voice. But I really feel there's a huge need for people to have an opportunity to come together and just chat. And if I do do that, folks, the reason I haven't started it yet is because it does take some commitment and energy to run something like this. But it's, it's as simple as saying we're meeting, meetings once a month at this time or whatever. And those that can join can join and those that, you know, can't, well, they can't. But it's, would be the idea would be to come together and be what you're just saying, Susan. Know that you're not alone. And maybe we talk about a topic, I don't know. But anyway, if I do do that, I will announce it on this podcast for sure. Because this podcast, for the time being anyway, is not going anywhere.
Susan Sackel 1:28:20
Yes, Vonne please. Oh my goodness, we need you. Please. And I can't wait for you to develop that community because I will be there 100 percent.
Vonne Solis 1:28:29
That's great. So thank you, Susan. We covered so much in our episode today. You know, I'm just so so grateful. I have a little candle going for our kids and an angel there. I'm so, so grateful to have you be a voice on this episode and who knows. We may come together and have another chat down the road a bit. But thank you again for being here.
Susan Sackel 1:28:52
Thank you Vonne. I really appreciate you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai