Thursday, February 24, 2022

20 Seconds of Courage: How a Simple Yes Lessens Grief

 by Beth Saadati

Person, Woman, Girl, Human, Pleasure 

I yanked the iPhone from my ear and stared at the screen. A long pause ensued before the chat resumed.

“He’s coming . . . when?” I asked. 

My middle daughter answered matter-of-factly. “The Friday before Thanksgiving.”

“How long does he want to stay?”

“Something like ten days.”

“But your brother will be on a camping trip and at school half that time. And you’ll be away at college until Tuesday. That leaves just Dad and me.”

“He said that’s okay.”

My words vanished. I couldn’t imagine a college sophomore from Germany, whom I hardly knew, would ever want to. This was all so unexpected. Absolutely awkward. Wildly weird. Kind of, well, crazy.

Then again, I had extended the spontaneous invitation. My offer had been one hundred twelve percent sincere. But when he laughed and instantly replied with, “Thanks, but I could never accept that,” I figured this year’s Thanksgiving would be my family’s new normal—laced with the same deathly silence of my oldest daughter’s absence I’d endured for the past eight holiday seasons without her here.  

“Lukas might be miserable the first five days,” I finally told Christa, “but tell him he’s welcome to come.” 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Before You Reach the End

 “Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.”

~Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression


by Beth Saadati, with guest songwriter Heidi Haase 

The deep sadness—sometimes hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks of depression—began when a beloved daughter died by suicide. It’s lingered seven years. Although the intensity of the sadness has decreased, intermittent waves of grief still crash, still threaten to pull me under, still leave me grasping for a lifeline to hold onto while I wait for each wave to break and recede.   

During one severe surge a couple years ago, my lifeline was a song—a song written and recorded by Heidi Haase, a beautiful family friend whose personality, character, and appearance reminded me more of my oldest daughter than any other high-school student I’d taught. I played the song again and again. I let the words sink in.

And I wished Jenna also could have heard and taken them to heart.

So today, on World Suicide Prevention Day 2020, Heidi and I extend that lifeline to you—for any day of the year you may need it, for every wave that tries to drown you, for all the pain friends and family cannot see.

Reason with yourself.

Listen. Believe. Be brave.

You’re not alone.

You’re stronger than you know.


With love, 


note: Please view the YouTube song video in the web version if it's missing here in the mobile version.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Suicide Kept You from Turning Twenty-Two: 20 Vignettes

by Beth Saadati

“What I would give for a couple of days—a couple of days.” 

~TobyMac, “21 Years 


Today. Thursday. August thirteenth. You were born on another Thursday, another August's same date. You were finally here, making that day lovely. And good. And right.

Vignette 1: I schedule my first-ever salon appointment at the beginning of this year. The price is outlandish. But I want to see your friend. She’s grown up. Beautiful. She cuts my hair’s broken ends. We talk about you, we talk about her. She says her fiancĂ© is wonderful, they’re buying a house, they're planning a wedding. An invitation never arrives. I don’t understand why. Later I'll learn the ceremony was small, private, only for family. Maybe it’s for the best, because you should have stood by her side in the bridal party. And I would have cried—imagining what could have been—and wrecked the special event.

Vignette 2: Your second friend supports and encourages your brother and me. After fighting to overcome unforeseen health challenges that stump the country's top MDs, he takes the MCAT. He will study to be a doctor. He’ll follow your dream.

Vignette 3: I see your third friend at a graduation party. She approaches. She radiates joy. For a long time we talk about her college, her graduate-school plans, her study of art therapy as a tool for grief counseling, the great guy she’s dating. Later her dad tells us she visited your grave where she yells, cries, and finds more healing.

Vignette 4: Your fourth friend drives two hours, unexpectedly stops by for supper. We eat. He stays until nine. He talks about the hardship, the struggle, the reality of life. He hasn’t forgotten. He speaks your name.  

Vignette 5: My phone pings. I check the text. An ultrasound picture with two words and two question marks: Guess what?? I burst with gladness for your fifth friend and his wife. I’m touched that he privately told me before publicly announcing the news. I’ll never receive a surprise ultrasound photo from you.