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This episode of Everything Happens is brought to you by Booking. Com. Booking. Yeah. Book whoever you want to be on Booking. Com. Booking. Yeah. This show is brought to you by Betterhelp. We all carry so much, and sometimes we need a place where we can talk about and manage our circumstances with someone else. That's where therapy can come in. Therapy can help us confront tricky issues and help us grow as we navigate life's challenges changes, and maybe learn to set some healthy boundaries. Get it off your chest with Betterhelp. Visit betterhelp. Com/everythinghappens today to get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelp, H-E-L-P. Com/herap. Com. Everything happens. Just a heads up, today's conversation is about suicide. This is such an important conversation on how communities can help prevent adolescent suicide. If you need to talk to someone, call or text 988. If you are worried about someone, you too can call or text 988 to get resources. Remember, you matter. Please listen with care.


Hello, my deers.


I'm Kate Bowler, and you know that here on the Everything Happens podcast, we don't shy away from difficult subjects. And today's episode tackles a topic my team and I have been wanting to discuss for for such a long time. Suicide among teens and young adults. Okay, I know this is a really devastating reality for so many, and immediately it can make us feel afraid or helpless or want to stick our head in the sand. We rarely talk about suicide loss, including parenting in that loss or how to bridge the connection with friends who are grieving the loss of their kids. But my Our guest today is someone who approaches this topic with the heart of a grieving mom and the mind of a professor and practitioner who wants to make change possible and wants to teach us how we can participate. She's the perfect person to learn from and listen to. In a really important way, I just want to assure you that this episode won't create nearly as much anxiety as you think. Talking Thinking about suicide is actually one of the most important ways of making it less likely. So let's find better language together, shall we?


If it's not something in your orbit, I promise that you'll come out with better language to help other people, you'll be the one who knows what to say, when to act, what to do, where to turn to for help. Thanks for being the listening community who doesn't shy away hard things. You are my people, and I feel so lucky to get to do this with you week in and week out. Without further ado, my guest, Dr. Pamela Morris Perez.


Dr. Pamela Moris-Perez is a developmental psychologist and a professor of applied psychology at New York University, which I don't know if we all know is an unbelievably big deal. Her 17th 18-year-old daughter died by suicide, and this professor and mom has launched a center called Arcadia, a research center for adolescent interconnected approaches for suicide prevention. She is a champion for honesty and courage and the need for us to learn to care and carry one another. Pamela, I've been really looking forward to this for such a long time, and I feel my own inadequacy when I was even trying to come up with a question. So just like, I fully encourage you. This is a community of learners, and you are so welcome to teach me as we go along.


No, thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.


I wondered if we could just start with your beautiful kid and what she was like when she walked into a room.


Yeah. Well, thank you so much because I love talking about Franky. I could do it all day, which I won't because I know we don't have time. She was this amazing kid, and I know I'm completely biased because I'm her mom, but she was just incredibly warm and generous. Actually, interestingly, I dreamt about her about a week ago. I almost never dream about her. I told her I was going to be on this podcast, and I said, I'm going to talk about you. She looked at me, she was like her brown, curly hair and big brown eyes and really cool sneakers matching her outfit. She goes, What are you going to say about me? I was like, I'm going to say how warm you are and how emotionally present she was, you are, and that you were so snuggly. She used to walk. I'd walk her to the subway on the way on her way to school, on my way to work. She'd slip her arm into the hook of my elbow. And then we'd get into this really insightful conversation about, I don't know, something she had observed. It was like she was reading in school.


Then The fountain would be on in Washington Square Park, or there'd be snow, like leftover from the night before. And she'd run ahead. She was five years old again. Jump on top of the snow pile and be like, There's snow. Look at you to join her in that glean. She was both a kid and a wise adult all in a teenage body in this wonderful way. She was a great kid. I could talk about her all day.


Sounds like she was very good at reading other people. Also that she had a lot of layers that must have been hard to be able... With sensitive people, I imagine there's just a lot going on on the surface and then so much more going on under the surface. I think a lot of parents worry that they're not always sure how to interpret their kids. How did you feel like you were seeing all the layers or not?


So, Frankie, I always thought was, I used to say she was overly empathic She'd leave a movie, and partly I think it was the sugar from the whatever. But she'd walk out the door of a movie theater and just burst into tears. She just felt things really deeply. I think I didn't What I think I understood at the time was that that meant that she was so open to everybody's pain and the world's pain. What I didn't realize until after now with the grief side of this is that when When you are more open, you actually invite people's stories. You must get this all the time, where people come to me and tell me things that people have known forever, telling me things that I didn't know about them. Because when you're empathic, people want a space to share. I think she got a lot of that. She was an easy kid to be around for so long until depression, anxiety really hit her about six months before she died.


I had a conversation recently with a lovely author named Stephanie Wittleswax, and she described after the death of her brother, a stage of what she called manic investigation. I thought that was a really... I never thought of that as a stage of grief, but the I need to know, I need to figure this out, I need to be the detective. Is that an experience you went through?


Yeah, Yeah. I will say, there are no stages of grief. I'm just going to say that a lot.


I know. I told you what I was like, No, I don't believe in stages of grief. I just thought it was what I wanted.


But there's a... What happens with suicide loss, yeah. What happens with suicide loss is that it's tangled up in a whole bunch of other really negative emotions. So you don't just feel the sadness of the loss. You also feel anger at the world that your loved one was taken from you too early. You I feel a huge amount of shame. I remember walking outside to walk my dog and feeling like I was wearing a big red letter S on my body. That I really, here's proof that I failed as a parent. My kid died by suicide. I felt You feel there's the PTSD, obviously, the trauma of it all. But there's so many other negative emotions, and there's the what happened. I think what basically is happening is that I think we all have these narratives of our lives. Jonathan Adler at Olen College talks about how we build a narrative of our identity, and it's really to a master narrative of the world. It's a reconstructed past, a perceived presence, and an imagined future. Tell me that one more time because I love it. Reconstructed past, perceived present, imagined future. It makes sense, right?


By age 50, I've got a story of who I am. All of a sudden, this thing happens to you in present. Then you're like, Well, now it doesn't line up with who I thought I was, who I thought our family was, who I thought she was. Even though she was struggling, you still don't think suicide can touch you. What happens then is that to fill that space, to make It makes sense. You pull on all these negative memories. So you remember really well all the things you didn't say, the times you weren't your best self. Even if you did it 2 or 5% of your time, it like balloons to take up of your brain space. And you've got to sift through all of that. There was this moment, it was like, and I thought it was six or nine months after, and then I was looking in this journal where I write notes about reflection on grief and reflection on Suicide. I realized it was 15 months after Frankie died, I had a day that was just pure grief, like unadulterate, like untinged with all this other stuff. No No other emotions in it.


It felt actually like a gift. That was so weird. I was like, this is the curse of suicide because just missing her, just profoundly missing her, felt calmer than all the other swirling thoughts. The noise. All the noise. It takes so long to get through that. It took for me the first year and a half, two years to consistently not I have that, the swirling thoughts. You can't rush it. It just needs its time to process it. Eventually, you get to the space where you're like, I now can live in a world where I get that we were a good family, and she was a great kid, and she died by suicide. Both those truths can still exist now, but it takes so long to get there.


I even really like the words that you're using that I wouldn't have thought to put together. Suicide loss is such a... I never hear that phrase, but that's perfect.


I call myself a suicide loss survivor now, and it's a word that some people use in the community, a survivor of trauma, essentially.


What do you think that opens up for people when they can say that about themselves? What other labels does that scoot aside?


I found it really helpful to have a label. I remember when my therapist said something like suicide, loss, survivor, and I was like, Oh, there's a word for who I am? Because there's orphans and widows. There's no even word for a mother that lost a kid. We don't even have a label. Then on top of it, losing someone to suicide, you need something to be like, This is who I am. Hello, world. So you don't have to go through the entire story every time. Totally.


You're right. I hadn't even thought of the entire purpose of the right label is not to have to rehearse the whole story and to get to the right conclusion together. Exactly.


It's really important that shift from the first, whatever year, two years, whatever it takes, three, four, five, to moving from the death, the perseverating around the death to the moving to the life. Because once you can get through that and get the sadness up, then you can start also remembering the good memories. Then you can start on this side of it, living not for why they died, but why they lived. You can pull that forward. It's why I love talking about all the good memories. It's much harder to talk about the end stage.


It sounds like in a way more appropriate to talk about the life then.


Then at least it's not that suicide isn't part of who she was, but it's not the only part. It puts it back in the right perspective. She lived for 17 years, and so many of those years were really powerful and good and amazing.


And brilliant and smart and funny and- And brilliant and smart and all the stuff.


And then, yes, and she died by suicide. Both of those truths are there.


Can you tell me that again, too, about died by suicide as opposed to committed suicide?


Yeah. The suicide community feels really strongly, I agree with this, so I feel really strongly that to not use the word committed. The reason why is that committed comes from suicides history as a crime and a sin. You commit crimes. It came from, sorry to say, the church. It was part of it that then moved it into Common law, actually, where it was against the law to attempt suicide. People that died by suicide. I have this picture that I show often in my talks because I saw it and I was like, Lord, by the church in England, and it has a line in the grass where there used to be a fence between the tombstones of everyone that died by every other cause and the people that died by suicide, the tombstones, because those are largely unmarked graves, no last rights, etc. And so that word comes from that. We say died by other diseases, heart attack, pancreatic cancer, what have you, died by suicide. I use it in the same language.


You have this beautiful way of describing what suicide is.


It's not about wanting to die. It's about wanting to avoid severe emotional pain. Just the same way that we I think for a lot of people, they look at suicide and they think that feels unfathomable. It feels antithetical to what we understand about being human. We have a basic instinct about living. And so what is this about dying, choosing to die if it's choice. There's a huge debate about that. But it really is just the way in which we are hardwired to pull our hands away from a burning stove. We avoid physical pain. We are also hardwired to avoid emotional pain. This is about deep, unrelenting emotional pain that feels like there's no other way out. The trick is in the prevention side, is really around how do we give somebody a way for other ways to relieve their emotional pain. But it's not about wanting to die, which is, I think, what we all think of.


I think people find that very helpful, too. Because I just know from physical pain, I always have two thoughts is, one, this is never going to end, and I'm convinced of it. Then two, it creates this real time worm hole. Then I'm absolutely certain of despair, and I want it to stop. I can only make the analogy, but I imagine that's a lot less choosing for me or a lot less like... It's hard to understand yourself. I feel like you lose the future. It's gone in a second.


It's a very similar thing as I understand it.


Your ability to be the mom and the professor is really wonderful to hear you think because you have so much compassion for our emotional response, our the unfathomableness. Also just, I mean, all grief is this love sickness in which it is very hard then to apply an academic analysis. It It sounds like really loving and understanding your kid caused you to grow into new parts of your academic expertise in a pretty amazing way.


Yeah, so I did. I started reading a lot about suicide, partly because I wanted to understand what Franky was going through. I really wanted to understand what it was for her. I had almost no experience with law, really no experience with laws. My parents are still living, my siblings are still living. I've not lost a close friend. So Franky was my first loss, which was a whammy as a way. But it also meant that I really wanted to understand what she was going through. And so I started reading. And honestly, what made me at first really angry was I couldn't find her in it, and I couldn't find her family in it. I couldn't find her empathy and her light. I And so that felt really challenging for me. I just want to say that the work part of it is not healing. It's helpful and it's useful.


Why do you really need it Because people are like, Isn't this just therapy? I'm like, No.


It's really hard. It's really hard. So I think of it like that I'm on a seesaw and there's the grief. And it helps the work, helps balance the seesaw, so it'll fall into the hole of grief and despair.


That makes complete sense to me.


But it's not the warm blanket thing, right? No.


I thought it was the warm blanket.


We all are like purpose.


I think in a way, I don't know. I think people love to imagine that as you're telling them the story, it's not as much of a gift as it is because it's helping you. No, it's gift.


We love this redemptive narrative, right? That exists in the world.


It was part of my healing.


Yeah, it's not. But that's It's okay.


I don't know. The ability to then... I guess one thing in which I find that the both sides helps is it does radically change your worldview.




Wouldn't say it's making my heart glow to know things I wish I could unknow, but it has really changed my worldview. Yes.


I will say that what I bring from the grief side into the prevention side is I have I have so much empathy for parents of kids who are struggling with suicidal thinking, which I don't think we recognize the trauma that's happening to families when they realize their kid is suicidal. That is traumatic and difficult, and it's different than grief, but that is really important. It's rough. That and the compassion for kids who are struggling. And still hope for all of them in all of that, too.


One of the things I have noticed about being on the sadder side of things in terms of topics is that I think people worry that the more they engage with... You tell someone you've had a diagnosis, and then there's a concerned, trying to find the reasons, and this is in the most unsharitable version, why it's me and not them.


Yes, of course. The othering thing.


Yes. And then there's also the desire to learn. But I imagine that with suicide, you have that times a million of like, Please don't tell me more about that. What do you think people are most afraid of when they engage with your work?


Yes, there's lots of the othering, and I think, especially around suicide and especially around anything that we don't understand the causes of, actually. If you read the history, like Susan Sontag stuff about cancer. Yes.


Which cancer you have determines people's compassion.


A hundred %. The ways in which we used to write in the newspapers back in the '70s that depression caused cancer because people that had cancer also had been depressed before they got the cancer, so it must have been the causal frame. Again, I think it was all the way to say, this thing that I don't understand and I can't predict, how do I make it not happen to me?


There's another version that sounds that I think is equally… It's so rampant right now, but there's a real repression theory about how if you have any negativity, that it will create physical symptoms, and then they apply a Freudianism plus positive thinking. But the language is I mean, it's a real grab bag of once I know this information, then it'll somehow be in my body, which is genuinely not true. It's just a, but then therefore, I should not learn about difficult topics.


I think suicide in general, everybody's scared to say the word. We're scared to talk about it. We're scared to think about it. We're really scared if somebody's thinking about it and we don't want to touch it.


It sounds to me like one of the most comforting things that you say to people, though, is that talking about it does not, in fact, increase the likelihood of it.


Yeah. But the sad thing is that was research that was done 20 years ago, in 2005. Maddie Gold did this wonderful... She's from Columbia, did a randomized trial, like nice study, right? Randomize one set of kids to ask the question, one set of kids to ask a different set of questions, followed the kids, no more thinking about it. And in fact, the kids that were more depressed, actually, there was a reduction in distress. Then there's been meta-analyses in this and that and the other thing. The way I think about it, and I think the crime of the suicide field is that we've not figured out how to get that out into the public. I think the reason is we haven't given people a frame for believing those findings? As an early childhood researcher, the way I think about it is... Most of my work has actually had been in early childhood and preschool. You walk into a preschool classroom and I'll say, you hear a teacher say something Hey, Johnny, I see you're really angry, or, Oh, you must be really frustrated. Teachers do that because we believe that if you label an emotion, you can regulate it better.


We know that for two and three and four-year-olds. But somehow When kids get to be teenagers, we're not explaining the difference between sadness and depression, stress, anxiety, panic attacks. Those are different emotional experiences and suicidal thinking. We don't talk about it, and then they have no space to explore it. Why am I feeling so shitty right now? They're not differentiating their emotions, and they don't know when they're starting to come on. All of the stuff that We know how to do with little kids, we forget when kids are all of a sudden presented with a thousand different emotions.


That is a great argument.


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For parents who are starting to try to tease out some of the distinctions between complicated, unhappy emotions, what are some red flags or what are some signals of distress that you might identify?


I could tell you the warning signs, but I'm also going to say that the truth is you can't really... As researchers, 50 years of research, we can't predict suicidal thinking. So Most of it just looks like regular teenage unksy behavior, so I don't know. Like I said, there are some telltale signs, which is kids saying, I don't know why this matters, but kids say that, too. Giving away your possessions. If kids are saying, I don't need this anymore, something that's really special to them. They say disengaging from social activities, but you could have a kid like Frank who doesn't disengage, who still is able to have really close friends. There are kids that are able to present without and really keep that suicidal thinking to themselves. So I tell parents that they should ask the question directly. And because if we don't know who's thinking about it, the only way we can really get into it is to ask and talk about it. You can say, Hey, I've noticed you've stopped going to soccer practice. And I just have to ask, Are you thinking about suicide? At all? Then you want to stop because the next thing you don't want to say is, Of course you're not.


I'm so sorry, I asked. I was at the doctor for a regular checkup thing, and they were like, I'm sorry, because I said, Yeah, I lost my daughter to suicide. They were like, I'm sorry, I have to ask you, but are you suicidal? I'm like, Don't be sorry, you have to ask. Just ask the question. Do you know my job? I know it's really scary and practice it in the mirror, but you do want to ask the question directly because Because if you just say, Are you feeling really sad? First of all, you can be anxious. Depression and suicidal thinking are not the only two things that are paired together. Lots of times suicidal thinking can exist without depression, without anxiety. I didn't know that. Yeah. So it does co-occur with a whole slew of other mental health challenges sometimes, but it is its own thing all by itself.


So you need to be able to say, Are you thinking about suicide?


Then you just want to listen and hear what the kid has to say. Because what you've done then by asking the question directly, even if they're like, No, Mom, forget it. A month from now, six months from now, maybe they are struggling. They know now that you've broken the ice, they can come to you. On top of it, if they end up wanting to help a friend, you've now modeled for them, how do you ask the question? Because they've got friends who they've probably seen these signs from before. It's why I I actually think we need to start with the kid generation in particular.


How early is too early to ask that question?


We're starting to do things with younger and younger kids now to understand their... Sorry to scare you. I don't want to scare people. More and more 10 to 14-year-olds are dying by suicide now than had been before. First of all, kids do think about death early. Can I just say that? It's not unusual to have a conversation about death. That's a good saying. We actually think that it's appropriate to think about existential questions in adolescence. Why am I here? The fact that we're mortal is why we lean into life. There's that, too. The way I talk to parents about doing it is, imagine your kid came to you and said, I have a headache. You would know how to ask a set of questions to decide whether they just didn't drink enough water that day, whether they needed glasses because they'd been reading too much, or whether you need to bring them to the pediatrician because they need to see a neurologist. You would say, How much does it hurt? How often has it hurt this way? Last time you felt this way, what were you doing right before? What did you do after What made it go away?


Last time it hurt like this, what did you do? What's nice about that is you're allowing the kid to articulate the things that they're already doing that is easing that emotional pain. We were back in the emotional pain a while ago. We're helping to bring that all out.


That sounds so much more curious than the way I think people imagine that conversation would go.


The truth is, it's not okay to think about suicide, but it is okay to explore thinking about suicide in that kid isn't definitely at risk because they're thinking about it. The kids that are most at risk that we have to be the most concerned about is if they're thinking about suicide, they have a plan to attempt, and they have access to that plan. Those are the kids we're most worried about. Just because the kid is thinking does not mean they need to be hospitalized today. In fact, that's why they're worried about talking to your grownups about it, because they're scared they're going to land in the hospital and all their clothes are going to be taken away from them and their phone is When you take them, everything's good. They're going to lose all agency. The truth is, you just need to sit and talk. Actually, the way to think about it is exactly the same way. When you want somebody to talk to you about All the things you've been through, you don't want somebody to tell you what to do. You don't want somebody to... You have all these people on your show that always have had really hard things happen to them.


As grief, someone who's experienced grief, I didn't want people telling me, You should go do X, or this is why it happened, or anything. You want someone just to listen. One of the things I found really useful is, and it's a fiction, so you'll bear with me for a second, but Kate Dickey-Mello has this book, Magician's Elephant. Do you know that story? No, tell me. It's about a little boy. He sees A fortune teller tells him to go see this elephant to be able to find a sister. The elephant is deeply depressed because it's been conjured into this town by a magician. It's being held in the castle, and all the townspeople are traipsing to see this elephant. And so the elephant's deeply depressed and says, I don't want to live, which is essentially being suicidal. The boy lines up to go see the elephant, gets to the front of the line, He says, Elephant, open your eyes. I have to ask you something. Please open your eyes. And finally, the elephant opens its eyes, and he sees the deep despair in the elephant's eyes. And what Kate DiCamillo writes is that in that moment, the elephant felt like he felt known and understood, and he felt something akin to hope.


What I love about that is that the boy didn't do anything. He just saw saw the elephant in its pain. When you see somebody's pain, they're not alone in it anymore. As humans, we deeply need to be seen and understood and with people. I think if you can sit with your kid in their pain and see that pain and try to understand it with them and say, You don't have to have all the answers. You could just be like, I don't understand this either. We're going to figure it out together. There's There's something about sitting with someone in their pain that's a really valuable process, I think.


It goes to that deeper place. You can feel it.


I think there's this way in which someone wrote on a listserv once, which I thought was brilliant. She's like, In the end, the only person that can save somebody is themselves. But if you can sit with them for a moment in their emotional pain, and they feel helpless and hopeless. If you can feel helpless and hopeless with them, then for that moment, they're not alone, and that may help them find their reasons for living. It's just the little bit of hope, right?


I can also hear how much the formula idea breaks down. You're like, there is There's not a magical five set of criteria that makes everybody feel safe again and don't worry, they didn't meet that criteria. And then there's not the magical... Because it sounds to me like you're saying relationships are so embedded in a form of listening and love that if you don't get to there, there's not a formula that makes it magically protected.


Yeah, and I wish I could say that everyone's kids would be protected. There was only one suicidal kid, and you'd know it if you had it. But there's not. I think we create visions of these because it's...


Because it gets to that unthinkable thought.


Then I don't have to let it have it touch my family. I wish it didn't touch anybody's family anymore. I really do.


There's this quote from... I think I think it's a Bell Hooks quote about, There's all kinds of things in love, but there's no safety in love. I was like, Oh, that's so depressing. I thought, Oh, no. I think that just feels like there's a hook. There's a fish hook that goes directly into my heart to theirs. Because of that, there will be a million things, but there won't be safety in that. There will just be desperate, beautiful, exhilarating, exhausting love. It just struck me the way you were describing the importance of practicing asking questions about suicide is that it feels like you're bubble wrapping them to say that stuff doesn't exist. That will never touch you. Of course, we want to say that. But it sounds like that is not the protective love that we always imagine it is.


I think it's that, and I think the protective love also makes you want to fix it, right? You want to pick them up and put the on the knee that you could do when they were two. And the problem is that for them to feel agency, you need to not. So it's just like the tight rope of a normal adolescence, but in extremes because the danger feels so much bigger. And that's why I call this a trauma for the family. It is so scary for the family.


I find so much of parenting literature, it sounds a lot to me like self-help literature, which has a really sometimes easy piece of lemon-squeezy attitude toward human suffering. I just find the way you're describing it really real. The more real it is in a way, the more comforting it feels because there's all the trying, and then there's all this stuff that lies beyond our ability to try. That's intense wisdom there, knowing that distinction when it comes to the most important life and death issues.


And to be honest, it makes you... And suicide really, in some ways, took the wind out of myself as a parent, in part because... And in some ways, that was terrible, and in some ways, it made us... Like with our son, it made us pause and do this step back with him that honestly was really, I think, helpful for him as he was grieving also as well.


What did that step back look like? Where you're like, I can't control every part of your life.


I can't. Yeah. I used to believe that not that everything would be perfect, but there was always a do-over. You know what I mean? You could always redo, and death, there's no redo-over, right? And it made me like, okay, I I always felt like I could figure everything out eventually.


No, I'm just thinking of the number of brands that is entirely predicated on that idea. What you're saying is so countercultural, which I really appreciate.


It really made us just pause and look and watch. For him, he was 17. They were so close as twins. They There were really two haves of a whole. She, I described, was this outgoing, bubbly... She was the humanist, she was the Pixie. He was the lanky engineering quack kid. They were the pair. As I said, I had an experienced loss, so I had no playbook for parenting him through this. I didn't know what it would be like to lose your twin who he'd been with since the womb. He didn't know life without her. We just let him lead, which turned out to be... He was also 17, but it turned out to be really good for him. He had decisions he had to make. It was three weeks before their high school graduation. So he had to decide, did he still want to to prom and senior trip or not, which he decided to do, and we scaffolded. We made sure if he was going to go on senior trip, he could talk to his school counselor every day, and he had an out clause, he could leave. But the other thing that happened was because we took a step back, other people stepped forward.


I remember after the funeral, we were standing on the grassy area outside the building, and he was in a clump of kids, teen a clump. A teen clump. You know how they are? They do. They're like a magnet filers. Yeah, totally. He's like, I want to go off with my friends. Of course, the adults were all going back to our apartment, but he had lived through The day before, we had done the whole open apartment thing, and hundreds of adults had traips through and hugged him, and it was rough. I didn't want to... I was like, Okay, that's fine. I said, But I need to know you get home okay. And one of his friends, this kid, blonde hair, blue eyes, steps forward, looks me straight in the eye and was like, I'll make sure he gets home. I was like, okay. He was like, This voice is good. I was like, Okay, I trust. I'm trusting in the world. And the same thing we dropped him off to this trip to Costa Rica for a senior trip at the airport. And this girl, not even that close a friend of his, started chatting with her friend, and she just stick her arm around him.


And I was like, he's going to be taken care I love. Of course, we got him a really good therapist and the whole thing and watched really carefully. But the result of that stepping back meant he eventually came forward. I'd be hanging out at dinner, after dinner, washing the dishes or something, and come to get ice cream or something. We'd get into this conversation about regrets or about a Frankie memory or whatever, but standing there in our kitchen. But not because I went and we like, We have to talk right now. It was weeks or months after, I don't know when.


Yeah, but letting it bubble up.


Letting it bubble up. Then because my wife and I grieved really differently and because We articulated that difference. I think it gave him permission to grieve in his own way. So he found his own way through it all. And then he taught me things also. So he went on the senior trip and he packed. He took out of the closet. We were packing the night before, and he didn't have a raincoat that fit in his wear. 17-year-old boys, they grow out of stuff, right? We didn't have a raincoat. And he grabs Franky's raincoat and puts it into the suitcase. And I'm thinking, What if he loses it? I was doing all this, and he folds it up, puts it in the suitcase, and I was like, I'm just not going to say It was interesting. I texted a friend after, and she was like, It makes perfect sense. She goes, She's going to be hugging him the whole time. I was like, Oh, thank you for that because I need the reframe because I'm freaking out right now. Yeah. And he said now he took really good care of it. There was stuff in the pocket he left there and preserved.


And he really gave me permission to... I'm wearing Frankie's earrings, and I do that now.


You're wearing her earrings? Yeah. To fold it into your own life instead of only just like, Amber, that feeling we have when we love someone and lose them, but we want to preserve them. But just to fold that love into life sounds so beautiful.


Because then she keeps, and actually she keeps growing with... I mean, so with me, she fills me, but she's still 17. What's been fascinating, he channels her. It's still him. We're almost five years out now, and he carries her in this really beautiful way that's totally beautiful and heartbreaking all in the same breath. And then her friends who we're super close with now, we talk to them and they're like, Yeah, she's still growing with us. I feel like she gets the pieces of her that are in all of them. I don't know.


She's still growing with us is such a It's beautiful.


It's like the love she sent to them ricochets down.


It's really beautiful.


Oh, my gosh.


It's like a thing. Oh, my gosh.


It's so pretty. And as a parent who loses a kid, what You lose the ability to see your kids still have impact, right? You don't get the chance to see for the teacher to be like, They were such a great presence in the class, or they did this. And What instead I get now to see is the way that she impacts them and they carry her. And that is at least some... It doesn't replace her. It never will. But it certainly helps. It softens it a lot to see that.


Yeah. Love becoming love, becoming love. Love becoming love. When I was so sure I wasn't going to make it till the summer, I had this thought that I would step back a little bit in terms of my desire to aggressively over-parent. I thought, now is probably the right time to practice other people having a relationship with my son. I've seen it. That part feels like such a miracle to me because I can see how much that love became more love that didn't require me. Doing it. Yeah. It's like this whenever you had to see- Somebody else. Somebody else love your kid and then their love multiply. It's a pretty beautiful... It's a really beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing. It feels like a little miracle.


Oh, my gosh. It's what... Part of the reason we opened our house up to her friends was She loved her friends so much.


Oh, that's so nice.


And we felt like she wanted us to take care of them. She would have wanted that. But now we get these gifts. It is that. It's the multiplying love thing. That just feels so amazing. And sometimes these kids show up. We adopted a bench at the cemetery because we couldn't do a tombstone. It just felt too... I love a bench. Yeah, a bench and a tree. But it also is this little oasis by water. Now when I go, I go to raid flowers on it often, every week or two because it's my centering space. I find things that the kids I have left there and even kids that don't go through us. Last May was year four. Frankie died in early June. I arrived and there was this little ziploc bag on the back attached to the bench. I opened it up. I actually thought about it for a second because we have this thing of like, should we open things that are left there? Are they for us? They're for Frankie? We decided if things aren't sealed, it's okay to look at. I open up this letter that's in there. It's actually a little note to the family, too.


I was like, Okay, it's legal. I'm allowed. And this kid described how Frankie taught them that friends could hug. It was so sweet. It's not signed by a name. It's anonymously mind, but I'm pretty sure it's a kid that hasn't been through our apartment before. I love that some kid found this bench. I'm so happy.


We're going to take a quick break to share about the sponsors who make everything happen at Everything Happens. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.


Do you ever get hit with a cringy memory of your 13-year-old self out of nowhere, and suddenly you're panicked, sweating and laughing at the same time? Don't worry, don't worry. We all get that. It's because being an adolescent is one of the most visceral shared experiences we have as people. We want to talk about it. Join me, Penn Badgily, and my two friends, Nava and Sophie, on Podcrushed as we interview celebrity guests about the joys and horrors of being a teenager and how those moments made them who they are today. New episodes of Podcrushed are out now, wherever you get your podcasts.


Hey there, Everything Happens listeners. Julia Louis-Dreyfus here. If you've been moved by Everything Happens the brilliant Kate Bowler, then I've got a show for you. Season 2 of my podcast, Wiser Than Me. I am amazed by how many people have told me that our show made them look forward to getting older. This season, we'll hear from icons like Billy Jean King, Sally Field, Beverly Johnson, Ina Garten, Bonnie Ray, just to name a few. All Hale, Old Women. Wiser Than Me Season 2 is out now from Lemonada Media.


Will you tell me some of the fact facts about how people should help lines, some of the basic things that I don't think that I would know if I didn't wake I go out of my way?


Yeah. So there's lots of things now. So 988 is a three-digit number. People can call if they're struggling, if they're suicidal. And a parent can even call the number to be like, I'm really worried about my kid. They're not going to get to be the first person in line. They might have to be on hold for a little, but they are there. What's interesting actually about helplines is they have a really interesting history that I think is helpful to understand what happens when you call. So They were started by a priest, actually, Chad Vera, in the 1950s. He had presided over the funeral of a young girl, 13-year-old, who had died by suicide when she took her life, when she got her first period. 17 years later, he was like, I'm never going to forget you. I'm going to do something right by you. He started accepting people. He's like, People should have someone to talk to when they have questions, when they're stressed out. He started inviting people to come. He was He was really good at what he did. This is a story that actually a junior colleague of mine tells, Yesha Mikhal, that he was so good that he hired volunteers to sit with the people in the office to serve them tea or whatever.


Then One day he opens his door and he realizes half of them are gone. He realized that it wasn't him that they needed to see. They needed somebody to talk to, and the volunteers were doing just fine. So he created this thing called Befriending. The The early lines were called befreender lines. In fact, I wish our 988 line was called a Befreender Line.It.


Would be so much less scary.So.


Much less scary. If I had a wand, I would call it the befreender line. It's based on active listening and empathizing, no giving advice, no counseling. They do do a full risk assessment to figure out how much the person is in imminent risk, to figure out whether they need to do something to keep somebody safe. But beyond that, then they are there to just listen. The idea is having somebody just to listen to actually eases that emotional pain. It's back to what we were talking about before.


That makes it sound like the word commiserating is exactly the right word.


Yeah, commiserating. Yeah, commiserating. I love that. I like that. So there are helplines there, and people can call them. People can make their homes safer. Tell me about that. The analogy I use often seatbelts. So we all put a seatbelt on. Most of the time, none of us get into an accident. So we can all suicide proof our homes, which means get lockboxes for medications, lethal over-the-counter stuff, things, leftover medication from last time we were at the orthodontist, obviously for firearms. It turns out that I used to think that if somebody wanted to die by suicide or Somebody that they would seek that if you stopped one way, they would immediately go to another way. I think our strong will to live means that When we can pause that for longer for most people, not for everybody, and give them more chances to find their reasons for living, we delay it longer, it can help. It's why the safety stuff matters. Nicely, they're starting to do a lot of things in communities now, barriers on bridges and things like that as well. The Golden Gate Bridge finally now has a netting just needed for People have been fighting for for an in an ordinate number of years and finally has now netting.


Then there are programs in schools that are increasingly happening now, too. We work with a wonderful nonprofit in Southern California that has kids make films in suicide prevention, like one-minute films in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Then it means that they're talking to their friends because often the first person that will notice what's going on with a kid is probably a friend, right? Kids are in schools a lot of the day and more often more in school than they are at home. So there's ways in which schools are a really important place for really supporting prevention, even though teachers are doing way too much already. But it's another space to really talk directly to kids about They're supporting each other already. And the trick is, I think as adults, we're not giving them the chance to know what to do with that information, right?




What a good argument.


I feel like every time you say something, oh, my gosh.


What an unbelievably helpful argument.


They're already talking about it. They're already struggling. What we're not What are you doing is telling kids what to do. When do you break a code of silence? When is it too much? You can't keep this secret. Who's the adult that you can bring the kid to in the school building that's going to not immediately once you say the word suicide, hospitalize you? Can you call 988 together? Or there's teen lines out in the West Coast where a kid will answer the phone, overseen by clinicians. Older kid is overseen by clinicians, teen line and Youth Lines out in California and up in Portland. But 988 works everywhere.


You've given me so many kinds of ways to think about why more language and softer language is going to open up a lot of possibilities for connection with people. That makes it both less like a this than that and so much more like, how can we include suicide in the way that we talk about our belonging to each other, how we love each other better, how we have maybe a lot more honesty around when we see people creeping up to the edge of despair. I feel so grateful. This was a very emotionally expensive thing for you to do with me, and I feel incredibly grateful you chose to do it.


Thank you. No, thank you. It's obviously a really important pop-back, and Franky would want me to do this. So it feels like the right reason to do it. What a gift.


Friends, if you are struggling, call or text 988.


If you are worried about someone, you can call or text 988 to get helpful resources. You don't have to meet a magical threshold of things being hard enough. Just call or text. 988. Remember, you really matter. Hey, we have lots of links for you in the show notes of today's episode. Just head over to katebowler. Com/podcasts, and you'll find all the links there. Pamela gave us some recommended reads for ways that you can learn more about loving people through suicide loss, as well as ways to stay connected to her work and her center at NYU. As a way to close today, I thought we could use a blessing for these feelings, the fear and the grief, and the hope that we can learn to better or support one another. So here's a blessing for you who know the depths of sorrow that few understand. Blessed are you who see it all now, the beautiful terrible truth that our world, our lives, can seem irreoperably broken, and you can't unsee it. The anxious, the exhausted, the stretched too thin, the person who wonders if any of this is worth it, and all the loneliness and despair and helplessness and grief.


Blessed are you who glimpse this reality and don't turn away, you who walk the delicate path of supporting others through their darkest days without the ability to fix it for them or rescue them, even though I know you would if you could. Blessed are you who've wrest with questions that have no answers for you who have dared to seek understanding in the face of so much pain. May you find peace in the midst of uncertainty, knowing that your presence itself is a language of love. Terrible, beautiful, fragile.


Look, my loves, I know this one was a big ask, but for all the people who are going through it, they're going to be so glad that you did.


And thank you so much for the generosity of our partners who make things possible. Thank you to the Lilly Endowment, the Duke Endowment, and Duke Divinity School. We are so grateful to get to make things alongside of you. This episode in particular is is the result of the fact that my team has heard from so many of you and knew that you wanted this episode. So thank you. Thank you to Jess Richie, Harriet Putman, Keith Weston, Gwen Higgenbotham, Brenda Thompson, Iris Green, Hope Anderson, Kristen Bowser, Jeb Bert, Sammie Philippe, and Katherine Smith. Thank you. And we do it because of and for listeners like you. Yes, you're worried about your kids? Were you on a mission to do better for the kids in your life? You are our absolute favorite, and we are so grateful to get to make something that we hope is useful for you. Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. It will help us so much, and it only takes a few seconds. Or call us and leave us a voicemail at 919-322-8731. Okay, guys, I I will be back next week with the hilarious and endlessly entertaining comedian Samantha Bee.


You will not want to miss it. Until then, this is Everything Happens with me, Kate Bowler.


Join us on Archetypes, a dynamic podcast hosted by Megan, the Duchess of Sussex, as she digs into the labels that try to hold women back. In each intimate and candid conversation, Megan is joined by guests like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, Issah Ray, and Trevor Noah, as they delve into the roots of countless common descriptors of women, like diva, crazy, dumb blonde, and the B-word, and redefine and reclaim each identity along the way. The complete season of Archetypes is out now wherever you get your podcasts.


Hey, friends, it's Megan Treanor. And her big bro, Ryan Treanor, and her husband, Darryl Sabara. Each week on our podcast, Working on It, we share behind-the-scene stories and bring you into our hilarious and heartfelt conversations, and sometimes with amazing guests. We tackle everything from navigating Hollywood to mental health, to Megan becoming a mother, so much more. We'll get into the nitty-gritty of our lives and leave no detail behind. Prepare to laugh, cry, and hopefully learn something new. Listen to new episodes out every Wednesday, wherever you get your podcasts.