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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Facing suicide head on

Work still needed in treating disease

Sherry Bryant felt like she had done a “horrible, shameful thing” after the suicide of her 22-year-old son, Todd, in 1993. “It shook up my faith … I had a lot of guilt,” recalled Bryant, a social worker. “It’s doubly hard being a mom and in the helping profession—we’re expected to nurture at all costs.”

Michael D. Watson<BR><BR>A Lifekeeper
A Lifekeeper Memory Quilt, similar in concept to the AIDS Memorial Quilt, provides a way for suicide survivors to deal with their loss, said Jerry Weyrauch, whose daughter, Terri Ann, died by suicide in 1987. “We got tired of talking about numbers,” said his wife, Elsie Weyrauch. “Each of those numbers represents a person. Each person had his or her own story. Each person was somebody’s mother, father, child, grandmother, grandfather, godmother .…”
But through care from a Stephen Minister and participation in a grief support group at her congregation, Our Saviour Lutheran, Naperville, Ill., Bryant gained peace and a better understanding of the depression that contributed to Todd’s suicide.

“People at church were helpful,” she said. “Someone told me that Todd’s story was not over—we can become better people because of this. We can go on and make a difference.”

Since then, Bryant has transformed her grief into involvement in suicide prevention efforts at local, statewide and national levels. In doing so she has met a “world of new, wonderful people,” she said. “I have never felt so blessed and inspired. I can’t believe the generosity and willingness of people to make a difference. I feel like such a lucky person.”


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December issue

DECEMBER issue:

Advent: Waiting together

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