In the two months since I got married and my new book, The Green Dress, was released (on the day of our wedding as gift to our guests), I have had time to reflect on how much the book has changed me.

It has been one of many steps that I now see are about how I have never strayed from who I am supposed to be.

I wanted to be a writer, a novelist and a storyteller since I was 6 years old. By telling the stories of Audrey and Sally in The Green Dress, it makes me want to tell more stories. And I realized I need to stop worrying about whether the book will be a best-seller and, instead, keep my focus, on writing books. It will all fall together if I keep at it.

This past week as I was working on updating my Wikipedia page – since I have a new name – I stumbled upon some old articles written about me. One, in particular, appeared in the Chicago Tribune after my first book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, came out and I was preparing for a big book signing in my hometown.

I began to think about how these two books, Bad Days in Heaven, my first, and then Green Dress, my ninth and most current, have impacted my life. Many people, most of whom don’t really know me, would say Bad Days has had the greatest impact. If you know me, however, you can see how Green Dress has left a bigger mark.

When I think about my reasons for writing Bad Days, the big one was to create something to help other sibling survivors of suicide like me. I had a novel, still unpublished, that I was working on, but when I had the opportunity to have Bad Days published, I jumped at it and put the fiction away.

Bad Days altered my life course in some way, just as my younger sister’s suicide did, but Green Dress is who I am truly about. And that life course had to happen for me to keep on the path of being who I am supposed to be.

I can’t say I ever really saw myself saving the world; it was more about helping those who had been through something similar to what I experienced.

What I see with Green Dress, instead, is that I want to inspire the world. I can’t save anyone but what I can do is inspire them.

And with a new marriage, a new beginning, that’s where I go from here.


Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust), Ph.D., inspires people to have meaningful and authentic lives. Whether she is discussing the 20 years she has spent working with the suicide bereaved, the lessons that running cross country and track taught her about life, or how learning to surf at 39 was a dream come true, Michelle is about making the most of life transitions and personal growth. She has written nine books, including three novels. She presents inspiring workshops, teaching people to set goals and cope with life situations, and works with people worldwide through her life coaching practice. Learn more about Michelle at

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