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

Challenge vs. Struggle

I grew up swimming in a former limestone quarry. Centennial Beach in my hometown of Naperville, Ill., had been converted from quarry to oversized recreation area in the 1930s (to celebrate the town’s centennial). Just over a mile from my childhood home, it was better than any neighborhood swimming pool because of its large size.


I wasn’t much of a swimmer in my younger years. While I had swimming lessons, I just wasn’t very strong and taking the deep water test…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 13, 2011 at 4:00pm — 5 Comments

A Butterfly at the Pool

For many years, the sign of my sister’s presence was the song “Rodeo” by Garth Brooks. In the last months before her death, she had given a speech in class and had sung part of that song. It’s the only video we have of her.


As long as I listened to country music stations, I usually was assured I would hear the song. Eventually, though, I returned to Top 40. Then, several summers ago as I was driving through Malibu, California, along the ocean on Pacific Coast…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 10, 2011 at 8:00am — 1 Comment

Sixteen Coins and an Answered Prayer

I was struggling with something on Saturday, debating whether or not it should remain in my life. It was one of those times where I couldn’t figure out on my own which way it should go. While I believe that faith is essential for us to trust the unknown journey ahead, I needed reassurance about something. When I went to church that evening, I asked for that help. I wasn’t sure what kind of sign I would get to let me know how to move forward but I asked anyway.




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

More than Mom on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day with my family wasn’t just about Mom. It was about Grandma Linn and Grandma Zurawski, too. Because my grandparents lived at the opposite ends of Chicago, we usually saw Grandma Linn on Saturday and then gathered with the other side of the family and Grandma Zurawski on Sunday. My sister Denise and I often drew cards and pictures for our mom but also for our grandmothers, in particular Grandma Zurawski simply because we saw her more often.


But I didn’t get to know…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on May 3, 2011 at 10:00am — 3 Comments

The Coins of Others… But Still Mine

The American Association of Suicidology Conference in Portland, Ore., two weeks ago was a busy time for me, to put it mildly. But it was that good kind of busy. It was nonstop talking to people, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (I wouldn’t have it any other way), as well as plenty of presidential duties. The first morning I led the plenary session with my presidential address. I officially became president that afternoon at the business meeting.


Up until the…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 29, 2011 at 4:21pm — 1 Comment

A Dream Comes True: The Australian Pen Pal

From first grade forward, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Several times between first grade and high school I debated becoming a psychologist or an athletic trainer but a part of me never wavered from a writing career. In high school, I began writing my first novel, a fictional…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 26, 2011 at 5:00pm — 2 Comments

The Changing of Rituals

It’s Easter afternoon as I write this. I admit that I can’t remember the last time I went to church on Easter morning. Heck, I can’t even remember what I did last Easter. But this year something has been different. I trekked to church this morning and enjoyed the entire service, all ninety minutes of it. This year, more than ever though, I missed many of the Easter rituals that have traditionally been part of my life.


Holy Saturday in particular was an important day for my…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 25, 2011 at 10:10am — No Comments

Lent Lessons

As Lent approached, I considered something I could do for myself that would make me a better person. Growing up in a Polish Catholic family, every year in CCD we were instructed to give up something and I remember it almost always being candy.


My sister died when I was a college student. In the year following Denise’s death, my senior year, I was fortunate to have the support of the Ball State University Catholic community (it was the pastor of the church who pulled me from…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 22, 2011 at 3:45pm — 3 Comments

Words that resonated with me

I am not a churchgoing person. Throughout my life I have gone to church at times when I felt I needed a little support or maybe time to reflect. Last week I talked with the priest who had been with me in the first year after my sister died when I was a student at Ball State. He commented that I’m the type of person who feels a sense of spirituality no matter where I’m at; I don’t need to be in church.


This year for Lent, I wanted to do something that would ultimately make me…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 13, 2011 at 3:58pm — 3 Comments

Giving Part of My Personal History a New Home

For as long as I can remember, each time I’ve moved, my high school jean jacket (adorned with several patches on the sleeves) and a formal dress from a high school dance have come with me. I knew I’d never wear the jean jacket again and obviously I’ll never wear the dress again. Actually, I was able to get it on the other day but I couldn’t zip it all the way up– apparently my rib cage has expanded since I was sixteen (I should admit that it’s been over twenty years although it…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 11, 2011 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

Study Seeks Survivors of Suicide Loss to Annotate Suicide Notes

For years, researchers were afraid to approach survivors of suicide loss. Many were afraid they might say something to upset the survivors while the survivors, standing on the other side of the divide, wanted to talk to the researchers. They wanted to offer what they could about their loved ones that might help other families avoid having to cope with the pain of the suicide loss of a loved one.


Few studies today involve survivors of suicide loss and all of these are about…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 8, 2011 at 4:23pm — No Comments

The Road We Don’t Choose

It’s been ten years since my book, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling , was published. And it’s been eighteen years since my sister Denise walked in front of a train just two weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday during my…


Added by Michelle Rusk (Linn-Gust) on April 4, 2011 at 4:30pm — 8 Comments

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