Since I launched Fatherless by Suicide, I've received hundreds of emails of support and words of encouragement. Many of the most touching emails are from other men who have also lost their fathers to suicide.
Throughout, a common strand of conversation is from men whose fathers died by suicide who are interested in the project but hesitant in participating. I get it: I could be crowned as the king of avoidance when it comes to talking about my father's death and how it has affected me. It took me 30 years to open up and discuss how I felt and now that I have the privilege to meet with other men and talk with them, I thought I should share some of their words about how they felt about inviting me in their homes to share their stories.
If your father died by suicide and you're on the fence about participating, please take a minute to see what these men have to say. All of them and others are happy to talk with you if you'd like to speak with them about their experience - just let me know and I'll connect you with them.
From Chad in Ohio, who spoke with incredible openness and tenderness with me:
"I have to be honest, I was very apprehensive leading up to my meeting with Chris, nervous even. I was not sure what this would feel like. Not sure what questions he would ask or if I would become uncomfortable discussing my father’s suicide.
Chris made it easy. Very relaxed and open conversation. Maybe just knowing that we both lost our fathers to suicide made it easier for me. After our interview, I felt content. I felt like a load was lifted off my shoulders to be able to talk openly about my father, my childhood, how his decisions impacted me and how I dealt with it and still deal with it. I felt like I was even more at peace with his death and my acceptance of it. Different life experiences bring up raw emotion, even to this day, but talking with Chris and being a part of this project makes me feel more sure of how I feel about it and how I want to remember my father.
I happily support this project fully."
From Luu in Baltimore, whose eloquence and thoughtfulness still inspires me:
"I feel so fortunate to have met Chris at this time in my life. I am just beginning to understand the ways I've been formed by my father's suicide. Chris' project takes courage from him and from us. But it is part of healing for me.
I have felt a sense of isolation for the forty years of my life since my father's death when I was four years old. It has always seemed impossible for others to ever know the inner landscape which I've traveled. But in Chris, and, hopefully, other men who will participate in this project, it might be possible for our lives to be known, to be understood, and to be healed."
From Justin of Michigan, who was my first interviewee who made time to talk when he was back in New York City from Paris:
"After being jet-lagged and exhausted from a extensively long work trip, I was hesitant to meet up with Chris to tell my story and how it has impacted my life on a positive and negative scale. I can say, that after going through the interview, Chris made me feel 100% comfortable before, during, and after.
The experience for me was eye opening because even though I thought I had truly faced my situation and moved forward with my life, I found that there were still some lingering emotions that I had not processed and that my past was impacting my personal relationships in a negative way.
Chris gave me the opportunity to share my story with him in hopes to make other men who have lost their fathers due to suicide not feel alone, which is the way I felt for 10 years. I wanted to share my story for an educational purpose for those who are and who aren't directly impacted by suicide to create awareness, a sense of community, openness, understanding, and to eliminate the taboos that exist around suicide.
For this opportunity to share my story, I am forever indebted to Chris and highly encourage those men who have been impacted by suicide to share their story and turn a negative situation into a positive one not only for themselves, but for others impacted by suicide."
From Max of Vermont; an entrepreneur, chef and fantastic storyteller:
"I would be happy to tell anyone that is on the fence that having the ability to put my feeling into words felt very liberating. As far as Chris' interview technique and the details of the experience, it couldn't have been more relaxed or unintimidating.
I also feel that I have turned something really shitty and painful into a vehicle (or at least part of one) that can hopefully help and possibly prevent guys like us from having to go it alone."