Stacey Fortney and Tyler Groves

Tyler Groves (left) and Stacey Fortney (right)

Tyler Groves (left) and Stacey Fortney (right)

"Our father’s life was an adventure.

His soul was made of Southern rock and hand-crafted with leather. He was a brother, a friend, a father (even when he didn’t have to be) and oh, how he loved with his entire being.

Though, even through all of his light, you could always see a little darkness in him.

I can still hear my sister sobbing on the phone when she called to tell me the news. She could only spit out the word 'Dad.'

After much prompting, she finally choked out: 'Dad’s gone.'

I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't believe it. No, he’s not. Who told you? Who did you talk to? How do they know? There’s been a mistake. No, he’s not.

She was just sobbing and sobbing, but I thought that there was simply no way his light could be gone from this world.

A single gunshot took his light from us.

Any time someone asks, we tell them that he died by suicide. We refuse to let his death be shameful or to be some dirty little secret, swept aside and hidden away.

We will not let him die in defeat, because he did not live in defeat.

If we had to tell others anything about suicide, it would be that it’s not poetic or beautiful or fucking romantic like the world has made it out it be. It’s brutal. It rips and tears and leaves big, gaping holes that can only be filled with time.

It is a thief that steals joy and hijacks memories. And fills with a grief so big, it feels like, at times, your chest will cave in.

Losing our father to suicide has made it feel like we are living in a constant state of emergency. Every day, our hearts break when we have to wake up and face all these things.

But do you know what this pain has taught us?

That we can survive. That we can get up and face these things head-on. That we can handle this because we are strong.

We are powerful.

We can only overcome these things with Grace. And Love.

And that come whatever may, we’ll still be standing."