35 - A Mother’s Story About Loss, Grief and Empowering Others 15 Years After Her Son’s Suicide: An Interview With Debbie Rosenfelt

In today’s podcast I interview Debbie Rosenfelt, a Chaplain for Support 7, the nonprofit organization featured in my previous podcast episode with Executive Director Shannon Sessions. Debbie is also entrepreneur and has had a diverse personal and professional history that she intentionally integrates into helping others empower their life. In today’s interview, Debbie shares the story of her son’s death by suicide which occurred approximately 15 years ago. She reflects on her early traumatic grief experiences and the routine she developed to help her cope. Debbie also explores what she learned going through her son’s journals, encourages others to talk about suicide, and identifies how her son’s death has changed her. Finally, Debbie shares the work she is engaged with to help others empower life.

Key Points:

Debbie shares her perspectives about suicide and grief after living with her son’s absence for the last 15 years. She continues to grieve and heal by providing spiritual direction to others as a Chaplain and in her business empowering leaders who are grieving loss or deep sorrow.

She describes an acute level of self-awareness she used to guide her through the pain and grief of Kenny’s death. For example, after learning of his loss, Debbie relied on gratitude for the time she had with her son as a protective measure from getting lost in a spiral of depression and despair.

Debbie shared the grief routine she developed and utilized to help cope with her grief after her son’s suicide. I highly recommend creating and using a routine and sense of structure after an unexpected death to my clients after their world has been turned upside down and inside out. Routine’s provide structure, consistency, and a sense of normalcy during a highly chaotic period of time.

Debbie shares how Kenny’s journals helped her process what happened. Many people who experience an unexpected death of a loved one to suicide are left with so many answered questions and spend a significant amount of time after the suicide trying to look for signs or answers to understand the reason why their loved one decided to end their life. They often search for what they may have missed and or blame themselves for things they believe could have been done differently in hopes of a different outcome.

The sudden death of loved one changes us to the core and the suicide death of Debbie’s son altered the way she lived her life and interacted with others. Debbie acknowledged that she no longer holds back, is more forth right, straight forward, and honest in her communication with others. She lives her life differently as evident by the way she described a slower pace in work and the increased level of compassion, understanding and empathy she now has for others and their pain. She is also able to see life from a new perspective which helps her in her professional work and providing spiritual guidance to others.

If you would like to connect with Debbie, please join our face book group Talking About the Podcast Untethered with Dr. Levin. You can also learn more about her and her consulting business working with leaders who have experienced loss or intense sorrow.

Our next two podcast episodes are also related to suicide in honor of suicide prevention month. On September 7th, Joy and Richard participate in an emotional interview about their experiences after their daughter, Syra, ended by suicide approximately 3 years ago, and then on September 26, Leia and Teya, Joy and Richard’s other daughter’s share their grief experiences and how Syra’s suicide has impacted their family. Both interviews are powerful and moving and illustrate the intense impact suicide has on a family and incredible power love has in healing.


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