Grief is not what I expected it to be.
My experience after losing my only child—my daughter—to suicide can only be described as empty. I haven’t had the big breakdown we see in the movies and on TV when someone loses a child. I feel guilt over that as if I’m not sad enough. The truth is, I still feel very much in denial. None of this feels real. All I know is that I miss my daughter terribly and prayer has led me to write—to write in celebration of Aria’s life, to humanize teen suicide, and to promote action that will bring awareness to what I now know is an alarming increase in the number of children taking their own lives.
My name is Brittani Senser. On February 6th, 2019, my beautiful daughter, Aria Joy, died by suicide. She was 13 years old. I am a single mom and she was my only child. My background is in Mental Health and I have my Master’s in Clinical Social Work.
Since Aria’s passing, I have done a lot of research on suicide. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death between the ages of 10-24. I have yet to find information on what the NEW triggers or causes for this increase in suicide in young maybe but I am going to keep looking.
I’ve never really been a writer. I sang for a long time but “writing” has never been one of my strengths. But, I have been praying a lot lately and the word “write” has been on my heart. I have been writing in my journal, but really how does that elicit the change that I want to see in suicide research and suicide awareness?
My goal is to CELEBRATE the LIFE of Aria Joy, humanize suicide, and hopefully, promote action that will change how we approach this growing epidemic.
People ask ” how are you” —a terrible question to ask, by the way. How can I answer that? I know it comes from a good place, so I just say “second-by-second” because “day-by-day” seems too long. I literally think moment-to-moment, because I can’t handle processing a life “long term” without Aria. It’s too much.
Back at my work at a treatment facility, my first client comes in and I can tell she’s distressed. We start to work, and she looks at me and says, “Are clients allowed to go to a funeral?” I said, “depending on the circumstances, yes. I have had clients go to funerals while in treatment.” She looked at me and burst into tears immediately. She stated that her friend just lost her 13-year-old daughter to suicide. According to my client, this young girl was bullied and had no friends.
Most of my clients do not know that I have recently lost a child and this client was not aware. When she said it, I didn’t feel anything. My heart didn’t drop, tears didn’t form. All I could do was support her in her grief at that moment. The only emotion I felt was anger. But it didn’t hit me until after she left. Another 13-year-old girl took her own life. Why? How? What is going on with our children?
“ARIA, I pray that you meet this young girl at the gates. Give her a hug and show her what true friendship, love, and kindness look like.” You were always such an amazing friend.
Brittani Senser has a Master’s in Clinical Social Work and writes on her “Do You Care Now” Blog with the goal of celebrating the life of Aria Joy and promoting action to curb the growing epidemic of youth suicide.