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

National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day

September 4-10, 2011, is designated as National Suicide Prevention Week (www.suicidology.org) and September 10, 2011, (www.iasp.info) is World Suicide Prevention Day. Don’t miss out on your chance to learn more about how to help others. Many times we don’t know how much people are hurting until we ask. Don’t be afraid to ask because you never know when you might save a…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on September 6, 2011 at 11:57am — 1 Comment

Being There... When We Can't

I have been living away from my family for seventeen years as of this month. I had wanted to leave my home state of Illinois since I was thirteen and finally managed it (thanks to graduate school) in 1994 when I moved to New Mexico. I missed weddings and baptisms. While funerals were arranged based on when I could make it into town, it didn’t occur to me in my twenties, or in my thirties (as I exit them in just a few short months), that being so far away could be a detriment to…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on August 29, 2011 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

Suicide: Finding Hope - A New Website

While I believe there is a synchronicity to everything that happens, I realize that most of the time we don’t understand it while we’re standing in the thick of it. Such was the case when I met Cheryl, a fellow survivor who lost both her husband and son to suicide, who came to me with a proposal to help her create a comprehensive website on suicide and mental illness.


What I didn’t realize at the time,…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on August 16, 2011 at 9:00am — 2 Comments

The Rosary Beads

If you’ve read my first novel, The Australian Pen Pal, you know that the main character, Rachel, stumbles on a cathedral in Sydney, Australia, and buys a rosary in the gift shop. What few people know is that Rachel’s experience is based on my own foray into a cathedral two years ago when I last traveled Down Under. (To find out why the rosary is significant, you’ll have to read the book!) After the trip, the rosary sat on my desk until this past spring when I thought it was time to…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on August 8, 2011 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Why don’t I remember the conversations?

My dad holds me while Uncle Hank, right, holds my cousin Sheri. St. Joe, Michigan, 1973.

My dad holds me while Uncle Hank, right,

holds my cousin Sheri. St. Joe, Michigan, 1973.

Often after a loss in my life, I find myself digging through my mental archives trying to remember conversations and experiences with the person who just died. And many times I am disappointed at how little I remember. I can’t remember the many discussions…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on August 1, 2011 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

Using the Word 'Love'

My younger sister Denise and I often discussed the overuse of the word “love.” We felt that people said it too much because often they didn’t really mean that they loved someone especially when they finished a letter with “Love,” and then their name. Instead, we stuck to “Always,” before our names. At a church retreat during high school, she had to write a letter to someone so she wrote me and told me that she loved me. She said she did it because we never said we loved each other. When she…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on July 25, 2011 at 4:55pm — 3 Comments

Remembering who we are

The end of a relationship, whether we are 16 or 60, can be devastating although not always for the same reasons. This morning I sat on the phone with a friend of my husband who is trudging through the breakup of what was a short marriage. It’s easy to think that we messed up and made a big mistake when something we thought would last forever doesn’t. And while I’m not standing in his shoes, what I do know is that he has an opportunity to learn from this relationship and make himself stronger…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on July 19, 2011 at 8:55am — No Comments

The Disconnect of Connection

I believe my dad used to take great pleasure in annoying me each morning by talking to me. I would grunt back “Good Morning” on my way out of the house to go for a run, my morning coffee.


But in recent years as I’ve added four dogs to life, I’ve learned that if you have a dog, you must get used to talking to people. Or as Frank, the man whose 1961 Chevy Impala we used for my recent photo shoot said, “To have a car like this, you have to be a friendly person willing to talk to…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on July 14, 2011 at 11:00am — No Comments

Ten Years After 'Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven?'

July 9 marks the ten-year anniversary of the release of my first book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling. I still remember waiting for the UPS truck that day with the delivery of several boxes of books. Then sitting on the steps of my back porch, a copy in hand, worried that the font on the pages was too big rather than enjoying what I’d worked seven years to produce finally in published form thanks to Jack Bolton of Bolton Press…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on July 8, 2011 at 3:33pm — No Comments

Loving Someone Under a Black Cloud

A friend’s wife died suddenly a week ago. She was just a few years older than me and, as far as I knew, she wasn’t sick. When I called him to find out what happened, I was stunned to learn that she had an addiction, one that took its toll last weekend. He said it was something she had battled for a long time, and obviously he battled right alongside her.


This couple had an amazing love for each other, yet outwardly there was no sign of the struggle they endured…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 27, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Remembering Daisy

This week my thoughts will be devoted to the upcoming birthday of my German Shepherd dog Daisy who died a year and a half ago. Daisy came to me as a puppy at a 5K-road race. It was the last one I attended, realizing that entrance fees would get expensive if I kept bringing stray dogs home.


Although I didn’t realize it at the time, she was a very special dog, the kind of dog that we feel lucky to have in our lives. She didn’t ask for much. She wasn’t a fan of being…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 20, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Dad ups the ante on Father’s Day

For several weeks, I’ve been finding a coin a day. On Wednesday and Friday, I found a quarter each morning, unusual because I usually find dimes and pennies. On Friday night it was two pennies. Then Saturday morning it was another penny. While most of these were out on my walks or my run, a few of them were as I walked into a store.


After the coin Saturday morning, I realized that they were about Father’s Day. And it made me wonder, would I find a coin on Father’s Day…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 19, 2011 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Feeling Connected to My Dad (It's Complicated)

Recently, I sat at dinner with my friend Fred discussing a writing project that involved using my high school journals and the lessons I learned from my years of running competitively in cross country and track. I said something about the difficult relationship I had with my dad and how I debated including that. Fred looked puzzled and asked, “I thought you and your dad were good buddies?”

At that point, I realized that Fred didn’t know about those years with my dad, the…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 8, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments

Love and Sticky Date Pudding

On my second trip to Australia, I was in a Melbourne restaurant with several friends for dinner when one of them, an Australian, went with me to pick out a dessert. There was this gloppy mess of a cake and I asked Susan what it was. “Oh, that’s very Australian,” she said. “It’s sticky date pudding.” As she would later say, it’s mostly made up of butter and sugar (plus some dates). While looking quite like a messy cake, and obviously very sticky, it’s a wonderful dessert that I…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 6, 2011 at 9:00am — No Comments

The Messiness of Coping

Several days ago I had a birthmark removed from the side of my head. While the chances of it becoming cancerous are relatively small, the dermatologist was concerned because I turn forty later this year and the incidence of cancer in these particular birthmarks goes up at that point. Although my hair covers up the shaved spot and my Franken-girl stitches, I didn’t sleep that first night. Everything was turned around from my usual routine. I had to sleep on one side the entire night, they…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on June 2, 2011 at 4:55pm — No Comments

Military Suicide Loss

I was raised in a family where military service was praised and celebrated as part of our history. My maternal grandfather, a general practice physician, served in the South Pacific during World War II and my father spent several tours in the Navy, one during the…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 28, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Not Missing the Butterfly

Early this morning on my run-walk with my dog Chaco, I asked that I not miss any signs that my deceased loved ones are with me in my daily life. After taking Chaco home, I went back out with Nestle and Hattie (mornings are a succession of all four dogs getting their run-walks after my run without them) and as we were running along, my thoughts completely elsewhere by that time, I happened to look ahead and saw that I was about to step on a butterfly. I stopped short and managed to miss the…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 25, 2011 at 9:29pm — 1 Comment

No Missed Turns

While I spent three years in Muncie, Ind., attending Ball State University, I never drove in the town until the past three days. And for three days, I constantly missed my turns. While I realize I don’t remember much of my last year there (following my sister’s suicide and then the death of my maternal grandmother seven months later), it was baffling to me that I consistently remembered things opposite of how they really are. This included where the bathroom is in the home of “adopted” mom…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 20, 2011 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Coming Out of the Black Hole

I pulled out the blue spiral notebook where I journaled from 1991 to 1994, my Ball State University years. Tomorrow I will drive the 239 or so miles to Muncie, IN, where I did my undergraduate work in journalism. I haven’t been there in almost ten years, shortly after 9-11, when I lectured as part of the journalism department’s Professional-in-Residence series.


I’m not sure what I was looking for when I opened up the journal but it was much more painful to read than I…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 16, 2011 at 3:34pm — No Comments

Tossing the 1993 Penny

After dropping off some books at a local bookstore here in Naperville, I had about fifteen minutes with nothing to do before my next errand. I thought I would take a walk and headed over to Riverwalk. At what was once the east end of the Riverwalk, there is a fountain. Earlier that morning on my run I had found a penny and now as I walked by the fountain, I found another one. I knew that this penny belonged in the fountain although I’m not sure if someone missed when throwing it in or if it…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 14, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments

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