On December 9, International Child Loss Day, we will share with you a list of people who have lost their children, siblings, cousins, best friends, similar to the way we did for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.
Those tables, forever missing one, are each welcome to share their loved one with us so that we may never forget.
I’m asking you today to pass this post around to anyone who may need it, you can use it if you need it, and you don’t have to have been the parent to feel the loss.
The way I generally organize these precious names is pretty easy:
Name, Parent’s Name, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Cause of Death, a Picture or 3, and if you feel like it, a bit more about your child. Who they were, what they loved, what they hated. Anything you’d like.
You can either send the information to me, email@example.com or you can use the online submit form. Or, you can lurk. All are acceptable and all are welcome.
We are none of us alone; we are all connected.
When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.
It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved.
They are loved.
I saw your pajamas last night.
No, they weren’t the exact ones, of course. I returned yours to the store, along with your bassinet and baby blankets.
These were the same though, your pattern. The ones I picked out to match your nursery. Bright teal, with lime green, hot pink, and bright purple flowers. And panda bears. Lots of pandas.
I showed them to Ian, tried to brush off the longing for you, and made some lighthearted comment. He could tell it upset me, though.
It’s been three years today, October 12. One would think it wouldn’t hurt anymore. Or that I would have tried to heal by having another baby by now. They’re wrong.
It does still hurt. In the lonely nights, when I feel the ghost of your movements, deep in my belly. In the unguarded moments when I let myself watch the baby shows on TLC. When I pass by someone pregnant, and I find myself passing a hand over my empty tummy.
I would have loved to have another baby by now, but it felt a betrayal of you. How could I insist that I missed you when I was holding a new child? Who would believe that there was a hole in my heart bearing your name when they heard my happiness over this new baby?
Is it wrong of me then, that I do crave to hold another baby in my arms?
I’ve given myself time, and I continue to mourn you. But I still have so much love to give. And Ian wants a baby. I want to give him this gift, to share this part of our future together. A part of me still feels I’m forsaking you to do so.
So tell me, my sweet Bella, what am I to do?
How long am I to go on missing the sound of your heartbeat, the feel of your somersaults?
How long before it’s “acceptable” for me to want another child?
How long before I can say your name and not feel the tears in the back of my throat?
And when all these things pass?
How am I to go on living with myself?
You are invited to add your child’s name to our wall of remembrance.
A person’s a person,
no matter how small”
– Dr Seuss
Today, October 15, 2019, we pause to remember the stars of our soul that were extinguished far too early.
To the parents who are missing their babies today and always, The Band sends our love and prayers.
To our babies, the babies who never got to experience the joys of Earth, whose lives were cut very short, we miss you.
We miss you. More than anyone can ever know. We wish we could have one more moment – one single moment – with you, as we can’t have a lifetime.
Today, we honor the short lives of some of the brightest souls, souls that have touched many and have taught us to cherish all of life’s moments.
To our babies who we carry in our hearts, instead of our arms, we will never forget you.
Band Back Together’s Wall of Remembrance:
- Mary Katerina, miscarriage March 13, 2008.
- September 23, 2010, miscarriage.
Amanda and John’s Babies:
- Juliana, July 2008, miscarriage.
- Charlie, November 2009, miscarriage.
- Samantha, March 2010, miscarriage.
- Her 3 Littles, December 23, 2010, missed miscarriage/June 2011, miscarriage/December 6, 2011, Autosomal Recessive Polycysitic Kidney Disease
Another Becky’s Baby:
- Baby Savu, August 2004 missed miscarriage between 3rd and 4th month.
- Baby Garrett, September 13 2012, Miscarriage
Aunt Becky’s Babies:
- February, 2008, Baby 1, miscarriage.
- March, 2008, Baby 2, miscarriage.
- August 2017 ,Tuesday, miscarriage
- February 15, 2000, miscarriage.
- Pregnant October 2011, unpregnant January 2012, ectopic pregnancy.
- July 15, 2008, miscarriage.
- June 13, 2005, miscarriage.
Baby Noah Walter
- January 2012, miscarriage.
- Malcolm, January 2008, miscarriage.
- Ophelia, April 2009, miscarriage.
- Caden, miscarriage, May 1989.
- Aubrey, miscarriage, December 1993.
- Kaycie, miscarriage, 6/14/2011.
- Baby Jones #1, February 2007, miscarriage at 12 weeks due to blighted ovum (Empty Gestational Sac).
- Michelle, November 1991, miscarriage
- 2 babies, miscarried in 1994 and 1999.
Elsie’s Ten Possibilities:
- Nine Embies, 2008
- Lola, 2011
- Baby 1, September 2006, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, January 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Girl 1, December 2008, late miscarriage.
- Baby Girl 2, August 17, 2009, born still at 18 weeks.
- March 2005, miscarriage at 13 weeks.
- Biscuit, July 18, 2012, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 6w1d, September 18, 2010, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 6w2d, June 22, 2011, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 5w, August 15, 2011, miscarriage.
- Pregnant in December, 2007. Unpregnant by February, 2008.
- Forget Me Not #1, February 2009, miscarriage.
- Forget Me Not #2, January 2012, miscarriage.
- Baby M, September 10, 2011, miscarriage.
- Stella, February 13, 2011, miscarriage.
- June 8, 2008, early miscarriage.
- November 2007, early miscarriage
- November 2011, early miscarriage
Justine and Boo’s Baby:
Kallay and Ryan’s Baby:
- Baby C lost to a partial miscarriage, May 17, 2010. Baby C is survived by twin sisters, Lily and Molly who were born on December 7, 2010.
- Mari Elizabeth, September 2003, miscarriage
- Noah Douglas, October 2004, miscarriage.
- Twin Angels, July 2006, miscarriages.
- Rebecca, June 3, 1995, miscarriage.
- Baby Sluiter A, April 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Sluiter B, May 2008, miscarriage.
- Baby 1, September 2009, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, May 2010, miscarriage.
- Lola, October 9, 2012, miscarriage.
Kelly and Brad’s daughter:
- Lily Catherine, February 18, 2010, miscarriage.
- Baby 1, April 2003, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, October 2004, miscarriage.
- Baby 3, February 2006, miscarriage.
Kendra Pocock’s Baby:
- Baby JJ Pocock, July 13 2012, Miscarriage/Ectopic Pregnancy
- Baby, October 1996, miscarriage.
- Baby One, son late term miscarriage at 15 weeks.
- Baby Two, second-trimester miscarriage at 14 weeks.
- Baby Three: miscarriage, 11 weeks.
- Baby Four: miscarriage, 13 weeks
- Baby Five, late miscarriage, 16 weeks.
- Eva, miscarriage
- 7 other babies lost through miscarriage due to luteal phase disorder and clotting disorder.
L. Moses’ Baby:
- Baby Moses, July 17, 2008, ectopic pregnancy
Lara and Brandon’s Son:
Lauren C’s Angels:
- Baby, August 27, 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Boy, January 13, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby May 9, 2011, miscarriage.
- Cameron, born and died May 22, 2009 at 10 weeks.
- Jeremiah Oliver and Jillian Olivia, twin babies. Second trimester loss July 9, 2010 and July 14, 2010 respectively.
- July 1994, ectopic pregnancy resulting in emergency surgery.
- Natasha Anastasia, September 7, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby B #3, September 1, 2011, miscarriage at 5 weeks.
Marlowe Corrine, September 19, 2006, early miscarriage.
- June 11, 2011, miscarriage
- Baby Angel, February 8, 1998, blighted ovum/miscarriage
- Albert Eugene, October 31, 2000, miscarriage
Mindy’s Three Angels:
- Angel One, September 9, 2005, miscarriage.
- Angel Two, July 17, 2007, miscarriage.
- Angel Three, September 25, 2010, miscarriage.
- Peanut, August 7, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby One, February 2, 2011, miscarriage.
- Hosanna Joy, June 18, 2011, early miscarriage.
- Cody Ryan-Price Grodan, February 14, 2012, miscarriage, 12 weeks.
Nicole and Jake’s baby:
- Baby One, September 19, 2011, miscarriage.
Rachel and Jesse:
- Babies due Aug 2008 and November 2010. Both lost to miscarriage.
- Alivia Mason, March 21, 2012, miscarriage.
- First Angel April, 2013, miscarriage
- Second Angel July 2013 miscarriage
- Isaac Ephraim, miscarriage August 2006.
- Isaiah Jeremiah, miscarriage January 2007.
- Ella Alicea, ectopic pregnancy June 2009.
- September 2006, miscarriage.
- April 12, 2002, miscarriage.
- September 3, 2008, miscarriage.
- Baby Bun Bun, April 2017, miscarriage
- Baby #3, June 2000, miscarriage from a blighted ovum.
- Athena Rose Moore, Girl Twin B
- Grace, 10/29/2001, miscarriage
- October 1990, miscarriage.
- September, 2002, miscarriage
- July 17, miscarriage
- September 25. miscarriages.
- 2008, Little Soul 1, 2008, ectopic pregnancy.
- 2009, Little Soul 2, 2009, ectopic pregnancy.
- Sean Michael, April 14, 1987, miscarriage.
- Nolan “Shepherd,” stillborn at 17 weeks on September 15, 2009.
- Madeleine Rose, stillborn July 7, 2009 due to incompetent cervix and uterine infection.
- Orion, stillborn May 8, 2004
- Benjamin, September 4, 2012, stillbirth.
- Bella Rose, stillborn on September 9, 2009.
- Emerson Allen Behrends, July 10, 2001, stillborn.
- Jonathan Edward, June 4, 1992, stillborn.
Debbie And Jeff’s Daughter:
- Chloe Eva, September 12, 2008, stillbirth.
Heather and David’s Daughter:
- Clara Edith, July 1, 2012, Stillbirth at 42 weeks, 3 days due to meconium aspiration and uterine infection.
Jill and Mark’s Baby:
- Haven, November 26, 2003, stillborn at 38 weeks gestation
- Ruth, January 3, 2013, stillbirth
- Cullen Liam, born still September 11, 2010.
Lilla and Gareth’s daughter:
- Pippa, born still on February 13, 2011 from listeria infection.
- Stillborn, born still 2017
- Kaitlyn Grace, stillborn, born still, May 13, 1995.
Louise and Joseph’s Baby:
- Alice Mathelin, born still on February 25, 2011, at 36 weeks and 5 days from Abruptio Placentae
Martha’s Twin Boys:
- Owen died March 8, 2008 because his cord wasn’t properly attached to the placenta.
- Joshua died one month later, April 6, 2008 because he couldn’t live without his brother. Both were born still on April 8, 2008.
- Summer Lily, born still March 30, 2011.
- Jordan Ala, stillborn on November 13, 2006.
- Nicholas Aaron and Nathan Alexander, June 9, 2000, stillbirth
- Sam, 1997, intrauterine fetal demise
- Audrey Elizabeth, August 7, 1998, born still.
Selah Mae: born January 22, 2002, stillborn.
- Carter Austin Ross, March 18, 2006, stillbirth due to an umbilical cord anomaly.
- Isabella-Rose Elizabeth, October 12, 2009, stillbirth.
Amy and James’s Babies:
- Jacob Bennett born and died on July 11, 2007 due to premature rupture of membranes (PROM).
- Samantha Lauren born August 16, 2011 at 23.5 weeks passed away September 17th due to extreme prematurity and fungal meningitis.
Baby Helen: Born July, 1993. Passed from prematurity.
- Christopher Robin Cote: Born September 25, 2009. Stillborn due to premature rupture of membranes and incompetent cervix.
- Emily, prematurity born 19w 5 days – was too small for the equipment.
- Jellybean, born at 5:20 April 15th, 2009; and passed just four short hours later in her arms.
Heather and Aaron’s Son:
- Aodin R. Hurd, October 7, 2007, born still due to premature rupture of the membranes.
- Kevin William, prematurity, 2005
- Baby S, March 2008, Miscarriage
- Evie, December 14, 2009, Triplet Prematurity
- Jack, December 22, 2009, Triplet Stillbirth due to Prematurity
- Will, January 13, 2010, Triplet Prematurity
- Baby M, May 2010, Miscarriage
Kristin’s Baby (Mama KK):
- Ariel Grace, born on July 28, 2009 at 18 weeks 5 days. Lived 5 minutes.
- Ayla and Juliet, October 20, 2009 at 20 weeks.
- Bayli and Thomas on June 8, 2011 at 21 weeks 2 days.
Matthew Chase Sims:
- April 25th, 2006 due to prematurity.
- Born at 21 weeks in June 2011 due to a bacterial infection, lived for 30 minutes.
- Samuel, August 8, 2001, prematurity.
- Coleman Parker Garibay, September 14, 2005, lost at 6 months gestation and passed from prematurity.
- Reya, September 18 2011, Prematurity due to extreme Pre-eclempsia
- Mikel Azariah and Willamina Azaria born August 12, 2019.
- Mikel was stillborn,
- Willamina was premature at 22 weeks 6 days
S & T’s Son:
- William, November 2, 2013, 24 weeks, 3 days, prematurity
Collin, complications from prematurity, 2009
- Erik Richard, July 29, 1981, prematurity.
Aaron and Kristine’s Son:
- Luke Ervin Seitz, born July 21, 2011 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and passed on June 28, 2011.
- Mateo, Anthony, and Ian born on May 6, 2008 at 23 weeks and 3 days.
- Mateo was born still.
- Anthony passed away from Transposition of the Great Vessels.
- Ian passed away after a short stay in the NICU.
- Nathaniel James, August 24, 2001 – August 29, 2001, Citrullinemia
- David Henry, May 11, 2010 – January 24, 2011, Citrullinemia, passed away after becoming sick post liver transplant
Baby Khalil, born August 14, 2009, stillborn, born still from birth defects.
- Kyle William Kober July 22, 1994 due to Hypoplastic left ventricle syndrome
- Ethan Connor Brockwell, May 3, 2006 – August 17, 2006. Born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
Christopher: November 4, 1979, due to pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart defect.
- Aidan, born with brain malformation on December 16, 2008 and passed on December 19, 2008.
Cora Mae McCormick:
- November 30, 2009 to December 6, 2009 from a congenital heart defect.
- Shane Michael, born October 10, 1971 and died October 11, 1971 from heart complications before his mother could wake from anesthesia. She never saw or held him.
- Brianna Elizabeth, born January 29, 1998 and died March 7, 1998 from a heart defect.
- Seth Douglas Bonnett, Our Little “Tough guy”, March 27, 2008 – October 12, 2008. Died from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
- Austin Skylar Gregory, born July 3, 2005 and gained his wings August 29, 2005 from Multiple Complex Congenital Heart Defects.
- Corbin Walker, born February 20, 2011 and died May 17, 2011 from heart defects brought on by Williams Syndrome.
- Chloe Walker, born November 29, 2000 and died June 4, 2001 from multiple congenital heart defects and heterotaxy.
- Starbaby, born still February 2008 due to Trisomy 18.
- Matthew Connor – February 26, 2005, born at 26 weeks, passed from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).
- Reed Allyvion Miners, passed away July 5th 2003 at one hour old from Primary Myocardial Disease, a congenital heart defect.
- Nathaniel, born August 24, 2001 and died August 29, 2001 from an undiagnosed metabolic disorder.
- David, born May 11, 2010 and Died January 24, 2011 from a myriad of complications resulting from a liver transplant.
- Leia Sky Williams, born October 6, 2011, passed away from Group Beta Strep.
Baby Kash Michael:
- Born June 3, 2011 and died September 28, 2011.
Carey’s Triplet Sons:
- Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar, June 4th, 2011, born at 22 weeks due to of E. coli infection.
- Nicholas and Zachary, October 27th, 2004.
Heather and Joe’s Twins:
- Jonathan Michael and Samuel Joseph, identical twins born alive and died on May 6, 2004 from extreme prematurity and twin-to-twin transfusion.
- Charlie: Born May 21, 2003 and died June 14, 2003 from late-onset Group B Strep.
- Will, born (today) October 15, 2002 and died on September 16, 2003 from complications of late-onset Group B Strep.
- Malakai Zachary born still March 10, 2007 due to Anencephaly.
- Five more angels, July, 2007 – May, 2010. Miscarriages.
- Catherine Grace, born August 10, 2012, passed August 12, 2012, due to prematurity brought on by HELLP syndrome.
- Kaitlyn Grace, born sleeping at 38 weeks on Saturday, May 13th, 1995. Died from a true knot in her umbilical cord.
Matt and Lauren’s Baby:
- Isla, born 14 weeks premature on August 23, 2011 and died on October 10, 2011.
- Mina Kathryn, born February 18, 2009, died February 24, 2009, due to complications with her PICC line.
- Baby R, May 24, 1998, Medicine Administration by RN who didn’t know or ask.
- Matthew Conner Webb, born January 11, 2005 and died February 26, 2005. He was born at 26 weeks and faced many obstacles in his short life.
- Ziggy Ann born sleeping on January 21, 2009.
- Frank born sleeping May 21, 2010.
- Liberty Ann born March 30, 2011 and died on April 19, 2011.
Ally’s Son: Collin
- Collin: born on August 9th, 2008. He passed away 30 minutes later from cardiac arrest after an emergency c-section due to a placental abruption.
- Nicholas, born December 14, 2005, died April 19, 2006 from SIDS.
- Max Corrigan, born November 14, 1987 and relinquished to adoption on November 18, 1987.
- Brianna Ann 3/19/2018, car accident – donated the gift of life to 5 people through organ donation
- Bryce Philip born May 26, 2009 and died September 1, 2009 due to SIDS
- Ashton Karol, stillborn on February 24, 2010 at 17 weeks.
- Addison Leah, June 13, 2008, accidental death.
Jessica and Mark’s Daughter:
- Hadley Jane, born October 9, 2001 and died October 11, 2007.
- Halsey Douglas Dukes December 31, 2016, Halsey passed from hemophaygocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)
- Halcyon Grayson Dukes was born September 1, 2011 Halcyon failed to develop after 9 weeks
- Jake, born August 14, 2005 died August 27, 2005 due to prematurity and hydrops.
- Sawyer, born November 17, 2009 died December 26, 2009. His cause of death has not been determined because he is part of a study at the Mayo clinic for heart arrhythmias – SIUDS (unexplained sudden infant death)
- Cullen, September 11, 2010, stillbirth.
- Brian Vitale, accidental death, September 4, 2007 – June 3, 2010. We miss him more and more each day.
- Patrick, born April 10, 1977, Adoption
- Sophia Lu Boudreau, born December 21, 2006 and died October 9, 2007 from SIDS.
Rebecca and TJ’s son:
- Rafe Theobald Calvert, born on October 11th, 2009 at 26 weeks. Spent 3 months in the NICU and underwent an intestinal obstruction repair. He was released on January 11th, 2010 and we brought him home for 6 weeks. He passed away at 4 and a half months old from SIDS on February 25th, 2010.
The Stamm’s Daughter:
- Adrienne Mae, May 7, 2006, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Nathan Michael King, died from SIDS November 2008.
- Kendra, April 23, 2005 to March 24, 2006. Died from Jacobsen Syndrome.
Chance, July 25, 2014, homicide
Like a whole bunch of people in the Chicago area in late July of 2017, when Mike Malinowski completed suicide, I was crushed.
On the outside, if his social media activity was our only peek inside his life, the guy looked like he was living the dream: expensive cocktails and smiling ladies and fun looking vacations and hip hop shows and live music and a stable full of friends.
However it looked on the inside, I don’t and won’t know, but it was obviously a shitshow that none of us were invited in to witness.
I was 37 at the time of Mike’s death by suicide, and what’s weird about the whole thing, is that it’s almost like I don’t remember who I was before he died.
That morning, I remember, was eerily gorgeous. It was a Saturday or a Sunday, I had nowhere to be, but I woke up early anyway. It must have been close to 5am, which sucks because I NEVER get to sleep in and here I was waking up when I didn’t have to. I did what most people do, I grabbed my phone and headed to the bathroom to start my morning.
Within the first five seconds of opening social media while on the toilet I knew something was off. I had like four facebook messages, and no one ever wants to wake up to that shit in the first place, but these were from people I hadn’t talked to in a decade or more. Like everyone else would, I ignored the fb messenger notifications and started scrolling.
There it was. Mike’s final post. He had typed, just a half hour earlier, maybe 40 miles from the toilet I now sat upon, that he wasn’t a pussy and that he couldn’t take it anymore and that he loved his friends. But he was out.
That was it.
Of course at this time of the morning there were only maybe a dozen reactions, and I did what I bet everyone else did, I went into fb messenger and typed out “what did you do?” and sent it to him.
No response. Ever. Still.
I checked those messages I had tried to ignore. Every single fucking one said “what just happened?” or “is this fucking real?”.
My friend, hell one of my favorite pint sized musicians, had completed suicide and left his note as a post that I would morbidly stalk every few months just to remind myself that it actually happened.
Mike’s fucking gone, he peace’d out just after he said goodbye to everyone, on FACEBOOK no less, and here I was thinking I needed to be more like Mike, more in tune with what’s right in my life, more aware of how awesome the shit and the people around me are.
At 37, with the most beautiful woman in the world as my wife, and with three incredible, healthy, energetic children all still asleep in my house, I was fucking devastated.
Like, punched in the stomach, dragged through the streets, every ounce of everything inside of me depleted, just, devastated.
I remember returning to bed and sort of sniffling a bit and my wife turns to me and says “what’s going on?” as she’s still half asleep.
“Remember Mic One?” I say through ragged breaths.
“The littlest rapper?” she jokes, because it’s true. We fucked with Mike so hard, everyone did, because we loved the hell out of him.
My wife knew Mike, the rapper, because he was the sole reason why we postponed our first wedding anniversary trip waaaaaay back in 2005, all because he offered my band The Cankles an opening slot at one of his shows. His shows were epic sold out parties, every time, and his support to any artist on the come up in Chicago was huge, if even only on the inside. Mic One shows were where any musician in the indie hip hop scene wanted to be. My wife knew Mike as the guy who said shit no one else would even dream of saying on the social medias, he was the guy your wife rolled her eyes at. Always.
“Yea.” I responded. “He’s dead. Suicide. He posted about it on facebook about a half hour ago.”
Julie went up on one elbow, seeing my face as it dove for her chest, she didn’t say anything.
I spent the better part of a half hour just sobbing. Not just because he was gone, but because I felt like his taking his own life was sort of a kick to my own stability. If Mike couldn’t handle this shitstorm, how the fuck was I going to?
The rest of that day and the week to follow all went by in a sort of blur. I was communicating with friends I hadn’t seen or spoken to outside of social media in over a decade. Everyone was fucking hurting.
How did we not see this?
Why didn’t someone say something?
Why didn’t he ask for help?
I was a pile of absolute shit.
I should tell you, because it matters in this here story, that I’m an “elected official”, an alderman, in a small city in the Chicago suburbs called Yorkville. There’s 19,000 people, it’s rural-ish, but with way more suburban folk who wanted less people and bigger yards, it has all the comforts of a larger suburb closer to the city, without a lot of the noise.
Anyhow, my mayor at the time, Gary Golinski, got word of what had happened and, because he’s fucking awesome, he called me to check on me. I told him I was a pile of shit and I didn’t know how I was going to bounce back from this sort of blow. He listened to every mumbled word I said one night and asked me, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” to which I responded, “I don’t think there’s much I can do, he’s dead.”.
And then he said something I’ll never forget. “Well, you gotta do something. I’ll wait.” and then there he sat, on the other end of the line, just sitting patiently. He wasn’t offering me much, but he was present.
Over the next half hour, as I sort of talked to myself with Mayor Golinski listening, I sort of went over my options.
I could do nothing, which is what I had been doing for the last week, basically ignoring everything in my life.
I could say something at a meeting some day soon, but those are just words. I needed something a bit more public and uncomfortable.
Together we decided that I needed to make this a turning point in my life, and make a public and official testament that suicide is an issue, that there are resources available to those who need help, and that just saying hi or simply being present for someone can help turn their day around. Oddly enough, that last part was a direct result of Mayor Golinski just being there on the phone with me as I worked through my shit.
That night I drafted what would become the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Proclamation. And with the direct support of my city, the United City of Yorkville, we were going to proclaim, with Mayor Golinski as my bullhorn, since I still couldn’t talk without crying, that September was Suicide Prevention Month, that suicide was an issue, that mental health resources were available, and that a little slice of humanity can go a long way when someone is having a tough time.
We adopted that proclamation in late August 2017. The night of that meeting I went home and emailed every elected official I knew and asked them to do the same. I was hurting, but I was fucking fired up. I’m sick of people not knowing they matter, sure, but I’m also sick of that fact that whenever I say the word “suicide” people look at me like I just screamed the word “MASTURBATION” in a catholic school.
Denial about a subject doesn’t make the subject any less real, talking about it seems like the best way to make something taboo less terrifying.
Sure, I was terrified of having to talk about suicide, but I knew that if I didn’t, someone else I love might consider it their only option and then actually follow through and I’d lose someone else.
I was fucking done sitting still.
I haven’t sat still since.
In 2018, I got permission to conduct official outreach on behalf of the United City of Yorkville a bit earlier, and I ended up sending out about 3,000 emails on my own and got 234 cities, and 20 counties, in 40 different states to official talk about suicide by adopting the NSPAMP.
That same year, I reached out to a group in Chicago called Hope For the Day, a proactive mental health and suicide prevention non-profit, and immediately fell into step with their approach and knew I had found a home for the fire lit under my ass.
While working parallel in my own little suburban bubble, HFTD saw something in my communication style, and rather than them just high fiving me for continuing to talk about suicide from my position as an alderman and a dad, they nudged me to consider being more physically involved in the proclamation project than just a guy sending emails.
In 2019, along with Hope For the Day, I’ve still sent out 1,000 or so emails, but my numbers are only in the 70s as of this writing, but I don’t care, because we’ve already visited and presented in front of a handful of city councils in the state of Illinois. We’ve directly interacted with those impacted by suicide, and we’ve demonstrated to those who have NOT been impacted by suicide, how devastating the loss of one human from suicide can be.
In 2017 and 2018, I was still unable to attend many of the readings and adoptions of the proclamation, because it was still hard to talk about.
In 2019, it’s not any easier to talk about, but fuck everything else, I’m not done trying to make sure that Mike Malinowski didn’t die in vain and that I can’t do what I can do impress upon humanity how important we all are.
We’re in this shit together whether we like it or not, so I’ll be around if you wanna fucking talk about some shit. I also like tacos.
Oh, and I just got hired by Hope For the Day on August 15th, 2019, as their new Public Policy Director to directly communicate with people on all sides of government, to not only ensure the money we spend as a country on mental health and suicide prevention is well spent, but to make sure we all realize it’s human to hurt and our job is to talk about what sucks so that it doesn’t end up hurting someone or losing one more person to suicide.
So, yea, I cuss when I talk about pain and suicide and hurting and shit, but it’s ok not to be ok, and I’ll grow up someday (I’M LYING).
TALK ABOUT SUICIDE.
BUT TALK ABOUT THE SHIT THAT SUCKS.
Sunday will mark five years since my sister died. I had a hard time losing my sister to bone cancer. She fought for over three years with bone cancer that caused her daily pain and stress.
Her life ended when she’d had too many surgeries and her body couldn’t keep up. Losing my sister is the hardest thing I’ve experienced.
I don’t feel bad for her now, because she’s free from all of that. But I do miss her; more than I miss my grandparents who have passed away. Her death was a trauma for me, as her 27-year-old soul was ripped away from my family and we were left with a forever empty chair at the table.
Now, I have a daily regimen of seven medications that keep me here on this earth from antidepressants to mood stabilizers and sleep aids. I fight suicidal thoughts and feelings near-constantly during this time of the year.
I have two girls; the younger one is my lifeline. I was pregnant with her when my sister died and I live in fear that she will die and leave me just like my younger sister left my mom.
My faulty logic says that little sisters die; I am so afraid that I will lose her. Her presence is one of the biggest comforts to me, which makes me love her more than her sister.
There, I said it: I love one kid more than the other.
What can I say? What else is there to do but keep pushing on, trying to move past a pain that is so old and yet so fresh.
I love you, Wends, and I will see you one day.
Today kicks off Autism Awareness month.
Today we also remember the autistic children who have eloped and died.
A 2017 study found that almost a third of reported ASD (autism spectrum disorders) missing person cases related to wandering/elopement from 2011 to 2016 in the US ended in death or required medical attention. According to this study, accidental drowning caused over 70% of lethal outcomes, followed by fatal traffic injuries. Injuries or traumas found ranged from minor scrapes and bruises to non-fatal traffic injuries, near drownings, dehydration, and physical/sexual assaults after elopement.
Pie chart courtesy of the National Autism Association
Lethal outcomes to autism elopement occurred at a rate of about once a month on average in 2011 to about two to three times a month on average in 2015 and 2016. Children at ages 5 through 9 exhibited the highest number of deaths, while children under 5 faced the highest lethal risk with cases ending in death nearly 60% of the time.
Most people who elope or wander off were found in or near water, traffic, at a stranger’s residence, or in the woods. Low-sensory locations are also a common theme such as abandoned areas and vehicles, cornfields, farms, tree nurseries, libraries and other typically quiet settings.
People in this study were under different types of supervision when the elopement occurred, with non-parent supervision accounting for 45% of cases. Times of transition, commotion, and stress increased elopement risk, and those who were noted to be upset or agitated showed a higher risk of abruptly exiting into traffic or other high-threat situations.
Today is one of the saddest days of the year for many on the autism spectrum as well as family members and loved ones of children on the spectrum. It’s the day that we remember those autistic children who have wandered away, died, or drowned over the years.
Why are we remembering these kids?
Because children on the spectrum are attracted to high-sensory places. In fact, when a young autistic child goes missing, families are told to head straight to the nearest body of water to look for them.
It doesn’t take much water to drown. A little boy was with his father walking in a park last year and had gotten a bit ahead of Dad, still close enough where dad could see him, when suddenly the child bolted.
After several hours of searching, they found the child face down in a stream in six inches of water. Six inches of water is all it took.
When I mentioned I was writing this piece, people asked me why kids autistic children are drawn to water. It’s because when we’re in water we tend to feel relaxed and comfortable. For someone on the spectrum, like me, I can say that most of us like it because there’s even pressure on our bodies.
Young children only know that they feel comfortable; kids don’t think about the fact that they can’t breathe, and we all know the end result of trying to breathe underwater:
Death by drowning.
How can we prevent these tragedies from happening? If we know we have a runner, we can focus our attention keeping them close. We can teach them to swim. We need to alert the local authorities about our children who wander so they can prepare in the event of an elopement. We can get a service dog.
Most people think service start at $10,000 and skyrocket from there but that’s not true. My service dog, Tye, came from Dogs Nation in southwest Missouri and is a rescue dog, just as all dogs are at Dogs Nation.
They work on a donation basis (and not from the families that take the dogs). They rely on donations of food, flea and tick prevention, dog houses and financial donations.
A service dog can help block the child from entering the water and if a worst case scenario happens and the child hits the water they can alert parents or family members.
Shawn Abell of Dogs Nation told me a story of something that happened nearly a decade ago near her home: A child went into the water and a nearby dog, a non-service dog who was a retriever, did what he was trained to do and went into the water to retrieve the child and saved his life.
Today is an important day for parents, family members, and loved ones of children on the spectrum and a day to educate those that aren’t aware of just how serious a problem elopement is. Amongst deaths of young autistic children, 91% die by drowning and that is way too many. Even one is too many.
If you’re reading this, please share it with families of autistic children and their caregivers so that no child has to go through this again and so that next year we’re not remembering deaths from 2019.