Stacy Harris: I Lost a Loved One to Suicide and Here is What You Should Know (2024)

Stacy Harris: I Lost a Loved One to Suicide and Here is What You Should Know (3)

Suicide runs in families. It’s not listed on his death certificate, but a witness to what appeared to be a natural death of an elderly family member in the hospital reported that when the nurses weren’t around the patient pulled the IV out of his arm, accelerating what might otherwise been a natural death were he not to recover as he had during previous hospitalizations for the same ailment.

Losing a loved one to suicide is a heart-wrenching experience. It can also be confusing, and it usually comes with a lot of mixed-up feelings, including anger and guilt. What are some things that family members would like other people to know about losing a loved one to suicide? As a part of this interview series, I had the distinct pleasure to interview Stacy Harris.

Stacy’s Music Row Report’s Publisher and Executive Editor Stacy Harris is an internationally-known music historian, multimedia journalist, academician, pundit, pop culture analyst, media personality, actress, iconoclast, public speaker and tastemaker. A native Minnesotan and University of Maryland graduate, Stacy Harris, having completed her studies at Vanderbilt University a half-century ago, resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I personally understand how hard this is. Before we dive in, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?

I’m a polymath. I write and ghostwrite books, I’m a columnist, I’m been nominated for the Country Radio Hall of Fame and I’ve had a career in films and TV on and behind the camera.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Credit goes to Brooke Gladstone: “”Being a Luddite doesn’t make you a technophobe. It just means you can see a little further around the corner.”

I live my life largely off-the-grid, protecting or otherwise, trying to protect as much of my privacy as I feel appropriate.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your loss?

It was sudden, unexpected and entirely preventable had the missing links leading up to the suicide not surfaced only after the event.

What was the scariest part of it? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

The scariest part was having to find my own answers to questions I was formulating prior to the death. The worst thing that could happen was the loss of shared dreams and opportunities that death renders impossible to experience together.

How did you react in the short term?

As I had experienced prior deaths of other loved ones, my reaction was similar. I didn’t really cry or even grieve immediately. Losing our loved ones is the natural order of things and, in my case, the fear of their potential passing I felt during their respective lifetimes made me fearful of my dependency. In general, I’ve always valued my independence so, in the short term, my reaction was like that of a child: This person has simply gone away for a while.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?

It helped to focus on a life otherwise well-lived, rather than the manner of death. I also remembered the best moments in our long relationship, knowing that not everyone was as lucky as I was to have such a meaningful relationship for as long as ours existed.

Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal, at least to some degree?

The healing began with the realization that, to the extent that reality demands I acknowledge and accept the manner of death, that it occurred as it did ironically enabled me to make sense of several things that I did not understand at the time they were happening. Strangely, these were real “light bulb” or “aha” moments.

In my own grief journey, I found writing to be cathartic. Did you engage in any writing during that time, such as journaling, poetry, or writing letters? If yes, we’d love to hear about any stories or examples.

It’s always brought me solace to write down milestones and other events my loved ones never lived to see. I then think about how they would have reacted in real time had they been given the opportunity.

Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?

When I catch myself thinking unproductive thoughts, I pause or stop, knowing that the mind does not multitask, so it’s time to make that shift and not continue to waste precious time on a conversation with myself that might or might not be repetitious but, regardless, clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, someone who experienced more deprivation and loss than I ever will and appeared to handle that well. Like the people we know who always have smiles on their faces and appear never to have a bad day: We know that’s not true, but we admire the effort to maintain a positive outlook- even if it’s just a façade that, in that respect, we don’t wish to emulate- whatever the burden or challenge.

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?

The experience reinforced my belief that our lives are a series of chapters. I have begun a new chapter in unchartered territory and, rather than habitually looking over my shoulder for someone who is no longer with me, I’m proceeding with an open mind re: living in the moment and with respect to whatever the future holds. I won’t be bothered by fear of the unknown because it is pointless to speculate about matters that manifest in a manner that is beyond my control.

What did you do to get help and support for yourself?

Truthfully, self-reliance works best for me. Should that change, I’ll have no problem reaching out for professional help, a support group- or both.

What signs would you tell parents, friends or loved ones to look for in people they think may need help?

When someone tells you who they are, believe them. When they fail to do so, ask questions. If the answers frustrate you, it’s time to call in a professional.

Thank you for sharing all of this. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what are five thing you want people to know about losing a loved one to suicide?

Please share a story or example for each.

1. Suicide runs in families. It’s not listed on his death certificate, but a witness to what appeared to be a natural death of an elderly family member in the hospital reported that when the nurses weren’t around the patient pulled the IV out of his arm, accelerating what might otherwise been a natural death were he not to recover as he had during previous hospitalizations for the same ailment.

2. If you are lucky, some form of clarity that was otherwise unavailable will come to you with each new day.. I was able to relieve myself of any guilt or feelings of responsibility because I only knew what I knew.

3. You may need to deal with some unfinished business and it will help to find the courage, resources or whatever else is needed in order to do so. Unfinished business was front-and-center with me and I followed my own advice!

4. The deceased is no longer your responsibility to the degree, if any, that was ever the case. I did what I could to enhance my loved one’s life but suicide is, by definition, the decision and responsibility of the deceased.

5. Be realistic about how you would have lived that one more day, week, month or year with your loved one if given the opportunity. It’s natural to romanticize and/or fantasize about it but don’t confuse either with what you gut feeling tells you would be the reality. My best relationships have never been perfect and this one was no exception.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

This will be controversial, as are many of my opinions, but I believe the best experts on the “whys” of suicide are those who chose that path and did so “successfully” (as opposed to the unsucessful attempts that are theatrical and/or “cries for help””

The movement would involve removing the stigma of mental illness by finding and implementing greater funding for mental health, neighborhood, community and social work organizations.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)

I’ve met Maria, Timothy and Mark Shriver but each only briefly. The siblings are all active in causes that make the world a better place, so I’d be happy to have such a private meal with any one of them. Ideally, that breakfast or lunch would be with all of them, as well as their brothers Bobby and Anthony, as the collective power and resources of the Shrivers and their various causes would lure the various business leaders, venture capitalists, sports and entertainment figures that come to mind in joining forces to remove the stigma of mental illness by finding and implementing greater funding for mental health, neighborhood, community and social work organizations.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

That’s easy. Three websites: Stacy’s Music Row Report, Nashville’s only independent source of country-music news reviews and informed opinion may be found at http://stacyharris.com/index.html, my expanded portfolio is available at https://muckrack.com/stacyharrisnashville/portfolio and my stage and screen credits at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4239537/?ref_=fn_al_nm_4 .

Thank you so much for your courage in telling your story. We greatly appreciate your time, and we wish you only continued success and good health.

Stacy Harris: I Lost a Loved One to Suicide and Here is What You Should Know (2024)
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