This is a heartwarming letter that I received from a ten-year old boy back in 2018.
This is before I remarried so it's why he calls me Mrs. Tebbe. I am now: Mrs. Bonkoski.
I cried rivers of tears through the entire letter. My heart is bursting with sadness for this boy, his Mom, and his brother and also such amazement that he took the time to write to me. What a fantastic, kind, and loving boy. Thank you to this young man for reaching out and lifting me up in your beautiful light. You have shown me that my work is important, meaningful, and what I am meant to be doing. Keep shining, kiddo. I'm here for you and your Mom and brother anytime. I have also included his Mom's letter to me. I asked permission from his Mom and she and the young man agreed to share their letters anonymously with the world to help other kids who lost a parent to suicide. This is such authentic and loving evidence that truth matters, truth heals, and love can be felt through words read online.
"Dear Mrs Tebbe,
My name is ****. I found your site with my Mom and she showed me your page and told me your story. I'm really sorry about your husband. I bet you miss him loads and I bet your kids miss him loads too. I miss my dad lots and so does my brother. When I found him laying there I just wanted him to wake up I was really scared. I get scared a lot because he's not here and I worry he didn't love me enough because he hurt himself so badly but mom said thats what depression does it makes you think you're a bad person and you need to hurt yourself. I just wish he didn't. I wish he saw your page because then he might of not done it you have probbaly saved so many lives. You make me feel not alone and my mom too. You make me feel like my dad is still alive you dont judge and you teach others not to be mean and not to judge about suicide. I get embarssed when kids from my school know about my dads suicide as they can be mean and say my dads in hell but i know God forgives my dad for what he did and I know god forgives me as I did try to save my dad, I did. If we didn't go to the shops maybe I could of saved him but I know God isnt angry with me or my dad. You make me feel safe, Mrs Tebbe and I like how you are trying to help people understand this illness, you make me be brave and sleep in my own bed you help me try to remember the good memories of my dad not the bad one. I sometimes get really sad, well I get sad all the time but sometimes I get really sad and I just think I want to be with my dad but your page makes me remember how much my mom and my brother would miss me. My brother is my bestfriend like my dad was too and I know he misses our dad alot and I know he would miss me alot too and I just dont want him to be sad anymore same with my mom because she;s so strong stronger than a wall like my dad was he was just really sick but now he's strong again in heaven. Without your page I think I mite of got really sick like my dad and hurt myself and I think my mom would of done it too so thank you for saving me and my mom. I hope you and your kids get through this all just remember to breathe. Thank you Mrs Tebbe. Love from ****."
And his Mom's letter to me: Trigger Warning if you are sensitive to suicide stories.
"My name is **** I came across you by complete accident but I’m so glad I did. On the 30th of July2016 my husband died of suicide our two sons were 8 and 6 at the time. They are now 8 and almost 11 and they grieve for their dad every single day especially my eldest who was the one who had found his dad at just 8yrs old. If I could erase that memory from his brain I would, I will never forget the scream he let out when he found him or the look when he had worked out exactly what happened. It was a normal day my husband seemed in good spirits that morning he was a little quiet but that was just him, he had struggled with depression for many yrs and was on antidepressants but we all thought it was under control honestly I think he did too. He saw the kids onto the buss for day camp and then went to work and I did the same. After work I picked the kids up from camp and I had some errands to run so we arrived home later than usual when we arrived home **** went to the garage to find his dad something he did every single day (they were very very close) I took ***** inside and before I could even get his shoes off I heard this blood curdling scream and instantly I ran but before I got halfway **** screamed again “Don’t bring *****” at that moment I remember physically shaking as something in my gut told me that it meant it was serious. I remember locking ***** in the shoe closet telling him to count to 100 and then momma would come find him. he was six at the time and always wanted to go where I did and in my panicky frenzy it seemed like the right thing to do. When I got to the garage I saw my husband laying on the floor with **** hunched over him surrounded by puke, blood, pill bottles and alcohol Bottles. ****(husband) had his gun in his hand but it wasn’t used we figured it must of been a back up plan if the pills had not worked. It took all my strength to pull **** away from him at this time our neighbours had heard our screams and had come over....The rest is a blur it’s like I had blocked everything else out. Reading your post about how you had to sit your daughter down and tell her her daddy was gone reminded me of what I had to do with my youngest it got me so deep as it brought me back to that night I had to tell him his daddy was not going to come back like your daughter it took him a few weeks for this to settle in and at the furneral he couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a seat for his dad. Now 8 unlike his brother ***** still does not know the exact cause of his fathers death he had just turned 6 at the time how could you explain something like that to a child so young and in a way I didn’t want his innocence ruined anymore than it was like his brother’s who still has nightmares and at 10yrs old has only slept in his bed a handful of times since his dad passed most nights he’s in with me. As ***** grows he’s asking a lot more questions about his fathers passing and I answer each question as honestly as I can do he’s becoming more aware of what happened slowly. I spend my days teaching my boys that it’s okay to not be okay we talk openly about depression and other mentel illnesses. They both see a child psychologist weekly yet both our at completely different stages of their grief journey. **** still suffers tremendously with what he saw and dealing with the difficult emotions that experience now brings him, he finds it hard to talk about his dad and often lies about the cause to others due to the fear of backlash which sadly we have had. Being such a stigmatized subject we have heard all sorts of things from “it’s his fault he killed himself” to “he’s in hell”. ***** is a chatterbox and will talk about his dad for hours and hours he will tell anyone that his dad is the biggest star in the sky and that he’s a superhero as he’s invisible;) yet he still misses him everyday and can’t wait until we are all together once again. I lost my bestfriend that day but I also lost my sons, their innocence was robbed and that’s something I can’t get back. I’ve watched **** become more quiet and resevered and I’ve watched ***** go through important milestones without his farther by his side. I have to convince a shaking hysterical **** everyday that his dad didn’t hate him as he tells me “if he loved me enough he would of stayed momma” I have to restrain ***** every time we go to a check up at the doctors which is critical due to being diabetic I restrain him because he can’t understand why they couldn’t save his daddy and now he’s scared they won’t be able to save him whenever he feels sick. I have to bite my tongue when I hear ignorance comments being chucked around. I’ve been angry gosh I’ve been so angry and I’ve actually screamed aloud at my husband for doing this to me....to his kids, I’ve screamed at God for not being there with my husband when he needed him the most. But I know inside my heart that my husband LOVED me and he LOVED his kids with his whole heart and I will say that to anyone that brings it into question. I just wish he loved himself half as much as he loved us. Sorry I’ve rambled I don’t get to go in depth to many often honestly I haven’t in fear of the backlash but now I’ve found you and you just get it. Me and **** came across your post about your daughter; we read it together and we now often read your post together for the first time since his dad passed **** looked at me and smiled with tears in his eyes and said “she gets it mom she just gets it and soon other people will get it because of her my dads alive because of her” so thank you!!! Thank you for speaking up thank you for turning such a devastating situation into something to help others, thank you for giving my son a chance to open up about his father without the fear of being judged, thank you Nik just thank you. You are an incredible woman and if I end up being half as strong as you I’ll die happy. You are an inspiration to so many you are giving so many a voice and like **** said “you keep the victims of suicide alive” I wish you and your beautiful kids continues strength and courage on this journey you are on. We love you."
And my response to them both:
"Oh my goodness, ****......Thank you for reaching out and sharing you and your children's hearts with me. I'm so very sorry that this tragedy also happened to your family. i just want to give you a big hug. I can't hardly express in words what your letter and your son's letter mean to me. They have me in tears of truth and love and relief knowing that all of my writing and sharing is reaching into hearts.....even kids. I would be so honored to share your letter and ****'s on my blog. Anonymously if you wish. I think it could really help other parents and especially kids. I am very passionate about sharing human stories because it really helps heal the world, dimish shame and stigma around suicide, and teaches people. It's up to you. You let me know either way. I would leave out your names if you wish for me to. I want to thank you for brightening my day. Hug your boys. I hope to meet you all one day. So much love to you all!! Love, Nik Tebbe and Hazel and Sawyer too.
His Mom's response back:
"Hello Nik, **** was delighted with your reply and we are both fine with you sharing our emails anonymously. I was very surprised when **** wanted to write to you as he's usually very reserved and quiet on the topic of his dad but you lit a fire in him, a fire I haven't seen in so long. **** says if we were to ever cross paths he would happily give you the biggest hug of all. Thank you"
Video: Me and my little boy back in 2016: less than one year after my first husband's suicide. Healing, restoring, loving. He is now almost 10 and he's the most amazing boy with the biggest heart for nature, people, laugher, story telling, and Jesus. Our kids will be ok if we show them how to rise up, overcome, and live forward with joy and grace.
And here is my post that first led this brave and wonderful boy and his Mom to my writing:
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I also host FREE support groups to help women who had a spouse die by suicide. The Brave Ladies Club and The Brave Ladies Club Sequel which can be found on Facebook. For men struggling with mental health I have a group called Manhood Untamed on Facebook.
Dear ones, thank you for being here in this community that I built from my tears. I give all my extra prayers to you. I adore you. I care about you deeply. I love you!!
Never stop looking up! God loves you.
Love always, Nik Bonkoski & family