McKenzie French 

"It was November 1st, 2011.

I received the shocking news of my father’s death during a normal school day in the 7th grade. 

I was taken out of class and brought to my grandma's house with my aunt and uncle. This is where the incident occurred. 

I didn't know what was going on until I walked in and my mom grabbed me, saying: 'It's your dad. He's gone.'

I was so shocked that I had no idea what to think or feel, and even now, I still cannot find the right words to explain the feeling. I found out the next day that he died by suicide and my emotions were unbelievably scattered. I never thought my dad would do what he did and I don’t recall noticing any signs. Being only 13, I didn't quite understand what troubles he had been going through. I also wasn't yet familiar with the grief process and, as a result, I didn't know how to process my emotions or how to continue without him. 

Today, I still feel troubled during times that bring up memories or when I think about how he should be here during my life. I am young, and I want my dad to help me become the woman he wanted me to be. I believe I have accepted his death, but I still have a lot of healing to do. I feel angry about him taking his life from not only himself, but his family, too. We are all trying to persevere and cope in our own ways; making a 'new normal' for ourselves has been a real challenge.

Him not being here and doing what he did has made me a stronger person than I ever thought I would be at this age. I learned so much about dealing with what life can throw at me and it has made me a completely different person than I would have been. 

I am so blessed to have supportive, great people by my side and without them, I do not know if I would have stayed as strong as I have. 

Being a person who has lost someone from this single, irreversible act, I have realized that no matter what pain or challenges you experience, life really is worth living. 

Each day, I wish I could have told my father that."