I wrote a children’s book about suicide loss. After Brett died I couldn’t find any books on suicide for my young nieces and nephews…and I had no idea how to even begin in explaining his death to them. Then I returned to school and my elementary students wanted to know what happened to Mr. Doolittle. I didn’t know what to say, but I didn’t want to lie. It was my 6 year old niece, Mercedes, who catapulted me into writing this book. I watched her lay in her bed sobbing for her Uncle Brett one night and I felt utterly helpless. I remember her crying out that she missed him and asked why did he have to die. That’s when I knew I had to write this book. Before Brett died I hated to write, now I can’t stop. I woke up in a panic a little after midnight in January 2017 and I started to write in my journal. Writing this story became a healthier way for me to cope and manage my husband’s death. I had all the illustrations created by different support group members in SASS and one illustration was even created by one of my 5th grade students who lost her father to suicide. I wanted to make sure that any child reading my book knew that they were not alone and that it wasn’t their fault.
Goodnight Mr. Vincent van Gogh offers a gentle way of explaining a loved one’s suicide to a child without sweeping it under the rug. When we lie to our children and tell them that “daddy died of cancer” or your “aunt passed away,” we are teaching our children that suicide is shameful instead of educating them that it is a mental illness. If we can teach our youth to break down the stigmas at an early age maybe then they will grow up feeling more comfortable with talking about their thoughts and feelings. Inside the book you will find online resources, a place where children can attach a photo of their loved one, and a place for them to write a letter. The book is on permanent display in the official Vincent Van Gogh Library in the Netherlands..where Vincent once lived and worked.