Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust)'s Blog (72)

Roads Merge, the Journey Changes

It’s hard to write about grief when you find there are a million other things you could be writing about. And that’s why this blog has been quiet for two months.


I felt the transition begin several years ago. There was a jolt inside me one day reminding me of the writer I always wanted to be. Life was telling me not to forget who I was at my core, that I didn’t want to stray too far from my original journey and wake up one day and realize what I missed out on. And…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 18, 2012 at 8:30am — No Comments

Is it really a new normal?

I spent the summer after my sister’s suicide doing my journalism internship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While it was a difficult summer, I wasn’t about to give up on my dream to spend time there. The internship offer came three weeks after Denise’s death and was a bright spot in an otherwise difficult time. I literally jumped up and down on the couch in my apartment after that phone call.


In the few months I was in Colorado, I…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 12, 2012 at 12:00pm — 3 Comments

The Merging of Birthdays

Sunday, April 1, I was asked to bring my fiction books to sell at a St. Baldrick’s Event to benefit children with cancer. A fellow high school classmate lost his daughter Brianna almost three years ago to a rare brain cancer when she was thirteen. April 1 would have been Brianna’s 16th birthday. Another high school classmate – the owner of a local pub – offered her location for the benefit. The turnout was incredible. For three hours, people had their heads shaved, enjoyed a meal…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 9, 2012 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

Suicide Note Annotation Study

A year ago, approximately 160 people bereaved by suicide took part in a study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The eventual goal of the study is to teach computers how to read suicide risk in text. For their part, the suicide loss survivors collectively read through 1,300 suicide notes and assigned emotions to the words in the notes. Each participant completed about fifty notes…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on March 27, 2012 at 10:00am — 1 Comment

A Season of Change and Anniversaries

It sneaks up on me every year. I’m lost in my life when St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament jolt me into remembering that March 18 is around the corner. I think of St. Patrick’s Day 1993, the last day I saw my sister Denise, and the NCAA Tournament, where I was when she ended her life. Then it's April 4, Denise's birthday. I'm not filled with sadness; she’s with me, I know that well. Instead, this two-week period serves as a checkpoint of sorts, a time to…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on March 15, 2012 at 1:30pm — 2 Comments

Letting Go, Year Two

Wednesday marked Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. A year ago in this blog I embarked on what I knew would be a long road: learning to let go of what I couldn’t control. My goal was to work on something that I struggled with in daily life, a task that would make me a better person by the outcome. I still remember my friend Jennifer saying to me that if I figured out exactly how I was going to do it, to let her know. Quite honestly, at the time I didn’t know what I would…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on February 27, 2012 at 8:00am — 2 Comments

My Doubting Self

I have this habit of doubting myself even though by now I should know better. In 2011 I found a slew of coins, but 2012 has been slow. Honestly, this is okay. While my life continues to transform before me, I realize that the coins last year I found because I needed them, because I walked through some very large changes in my life. The coins always seemed to come right before something stressful would happen. I got to a point where sometimes I worried when I found them that something bad was…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on February 13, 2012 at 8:30am — 4 Comments

Rooting Ourselves in the Present

Many of us struggle with the concept of being present in the moment before us. I will be the first to admit I was a big daydreamer, especially as a high school student. My thoughts weren’t rooted in the past so much as they were focused on the future – mostly where I was going.


However, when a loved one dies, it’s often the opposite. We find ourselves riveted to the past because that’s where our loved ones were in our lives. We don’t want to be in the present…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on February 6, 2012 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

The Completeness of Life

Saturday morning I was flipping stations on Sirius radio when I discovered a conversation discussing a book about grief. Amy Welborn’s husband had died from a heart attack and she subsequently wrote, Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope.


I didn’t hear anything earth shattering in the conversation until she said that she believes this life, the one we are experiencing here on earth, is “incomplete” because we experience so much loss in this life.…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on January 30, 2012 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

The Soundtracks of Our Loved Ones

I once heard Dick Clark say that we each have a soundtrack to our lives. Recently, I’ve been listening to the “'80s on the 8” station on Sirius-XM radio and letting those songs take me back in time to a different point in my life (with '80s music, that mostly means high school).


Just as songs can transport us to a different time and place, they can remind us of our loved ones and the bond we still share with them. Hearing a special song can spark memories and…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on January 20, 2012 at 12:30pm — 2 Comments

Meditation My Way

When I lived with my maternal grandmother for part of my freshman year of college, each morning we walked a few blocks together before I went one way to catch the El to school and she went the other to church. She attended daily Mass as much as possible. I thought it was strange that people needed that much Mass time. Instead, I went with her only on Sundays.


But I have come to appreciate daily Mass. To me, it’s no different than having a support group for suicide loss…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on January 9, 2012 at 8:30am — 3 Comments

Learning to let go: Where do I go in 2012?

I read recently that Christmas is a time of rebirth. As one year ends and another begins, I see this as a time of reflection of where we’ve been this past year and where we’re going in 2012.


In 2011, I worked on my ability to let go. I had some rough paths to travel this past year, and a friend noted to me the other day how much he has seen me grow in this time as I navigated them. That’s not to say that I’m perfect because I’m definitely not. Today I was reminded that Lent…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on January 3, 2012 at 4:18pm — 2 Comments

$13.33 - Remembering Dad on the Anniversary of His Death

The anniversary of my dad’s death is New Year’s Day. For some reason, it wasn’t on my radar. But as New Year’s Day inched closer, I began to feel it.


On Friday, December 30, for no specific reason, I drove to the cemetery where both my dad and my sister are buried. As I began to drive away, I noticed that the song playing on the “'80s on 8” station was called “Fly High Michelle.” I thought I knew every song from the 1980s, but this one from a band called Enuff Z’Nuff was new…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on January 2, 2012 at 10:00am — 6 Comments

Celebrating with Suicide Loss Survivors

This year, I celebrated my birthday in Los Angeles with friends and fellow survivors of suicide loss. It was my 40th, and I had tried to make plans with various people in various parts of the country. But nothing came together until I booked a plane ticket to L.A. and announced to friends when I would be there.


I spent the evening of December 10th in Los Angeles at the Survivors After Suicide 30th Anniversary Pot Luck. Most people think that when a group of bereaved people…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on December 19, 2011 at 2:56pm — 3 Comments

Coping with the Holidays after Loss

There are many people and families around the world celebrating their first holiday season following the death of a loved one. I hesitate to use the word “celebrate” because I know that it doesn’t feel like much of a celebration when someone important isn’t there.


I remember that first holiday season without my sister (and without my maternal grandmother, who died just seven months after Denise) as a time of confusion. All our family traditions were thrown out the window that…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on December 8, 2011 at 3:00pm — 7 Comments

A Bird on My Laptop

It’s evening here in Hawaii as I write this and I can see the lights of the main part of Waikiki from my balcony and hear the surf pounding the shore below me. This is my last night before I head back home to Chicago on a red eye. After several months of change, the trip came at the perfect time, giving me a chance to replenish my soul before I settle into my “new” life. But I didn’t realize that my trip would bring anything special beyond giving me some much-needed…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on November 21, 2011 at 6:00am — 2 Comments

When the meanings of things change

Two weeks ago, I moved halfway across the country, leaving Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I have lived since 1994, and returning to my hometown in the Chicago suburbs.


I have spent almost my entire adult life in Albuquerque, having come here when I was twenty-two. It was eighteen months after my sister’s death and almost a year after my maternal grandmother died. I can’t completely tell you that I understand my reasons for landing in New Mexico other than I was drawn to the…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on November 17, 2011 at 1:39pm — 3 Comments

I Am Not Sarah McCall

When I let the first few people read a draft of my latest book, Sisters: The Karma Twist , everyone just assumed that I was Sarah McCall (the main character). I actually work pretty hard not to allow my characters to be me. I change their hair color; I give them different…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on October 13, 2011 at 2:00pm — 1 Comment

Recycling a 17-Year-Old Manuscript

I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the original version of what would become Sisters: The Karma Twist , my latest novel.…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on October 3, 2011 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

Ginger's Gift

Getting Ginger was one of the few times I openly defied my dad. Mom wanted a dog, he didn’t. After their bird Livvie died suddenly in August 2005, he made it clear he didn’t want to attach to anything or anyone anymore. Period. But I thought because Mom wanted a dog, she should have one, sending me to the Albuquerque shelter where an employee led me to a fat, sad-looking white Labrador Retriever whose eyes held no happiness. He had suggested this particular dog because I explained my mom…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on September 7, 2011 at 8:30am — 1 Comment

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