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Finding Strength and Courage Through TEARS

Finding Strength and Courage Through TEARS

“There is an ache in my heart that will never go away,” says Tammi about the passing of her son Ryan, who died by suicide in March 2014. Despite the time passed, Ryan’s memory is as real today as it was before his death on that cold, stormy first day of spring.

young manFun-loving Ryan

Ryan was a kind-hearted young man, who loved football, snowmobiling and spending time with family and friends. He grew up with six siblings and participated in wrestling, baseball, and football throughout high school. His love and care for others was a trait all who knew Ryan admired. He was continually thinking of others and putting others’ needs in front of his own.

Ryan’s Struggle

After Ryan graduated and moved away from home, his family began to notice a change in his demeanor. Ryan struggled with depression and anxiety, a battle he would face until the end of his life. “Ryan was in a dark place that he didn’t know how to get out of,” his mother shared. He struggled with low self-esteem and couldn’t escape the thought that his life was meaningless. On March 21, 2014, Ryan’s mind became an enemy too great to overcome.

Ryan’s passing left his family with many unanswered questions. For his mom, these questions seemed overwhelming and unending. Was there something more that could have been done to prevent Ryan from taking his life? The guilt and grief of losing a son from suicide weighed heavy on Tammi’s heart.

Strength from TEARS

After Ryan’s death, Tammi started counseling, and that is how she heard about TEARS (Together we Educate About the Realities of Suicide).

“I walked in, and the first thing I see is that everyone is smiling. I’m thinking to myself if they all know how I feel, how are they smiling right now?” Tammi expressed. “I sat down and others began to share their stories, and I realized that they DID understand what it was like to lose someone to suicide. The guilt, the anger, the fear, the resentment; all common feelings other group members experienced and could relate to.”

Tammi has continued to attend the meetings, leaving every time with a renewed purpose. “I feel that I am able to focus on moving forward, and also not be afraid of what happened and not feel ashamed to talk about it.”

Tammi often reads a saying that says, “Just for today, I will remember your life Ryan with the comfort of all the treasured days and moments we shared. Just for today, I will smile no matter how much I hurt on the inside for I know that is what you would want your mom to do. Life will never be the same. The pain will never go away we just learn to go on and never lose the memories.”

In closing, Tammi shares, “You’re never going to heal fully. When you lose a child, there is a part of you that is missing forever.”

Tammi’s experience of loss and grief has been difficult; but with time and patience, she has found strength and courage through TEARS.

To this day, Tammi wears a necklace in remembrance of Ryan. The necklace includes her late son’s signature, his birthstone, Saint Felicity (the Saint for a mother who has lost a child) and the words, “Forever my Angel” inscribed on the surface of a medallion.

necklaceWalk to Remember, Walk to Support

Tammi and her family participated in the Walk to Remember, Walk to Support in September 2014. She explained the environment at the walk, saying, “The group was very warm, very welcoming to me. I felt the love of everybody there.”

To donate to TEARS Walk for Suicide Prevention, join a team, or learn more information, please visit