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A Message for Those Left Behind


"My best friend knows the days where I sat in my car screaming at him, yelling at him in the sky because he left me here alone and put me through all those things. She's seen the days where I sat at his grave and cried for two hours because I missed him. It's a fucking whirlwind. You don't know what to think, or what you're going to think one day to the next.I'll hear a song, or somebody will say things, and I'll suddenly hate him again. Then the next day I miss him. Something will remind me of the good parts of him, and I'll miss those things. Or my son. My son reminds me of the good things. He's the good of Brian. Him and Shay are."

~ Brittanie Kelso



A few weeks ago Dave and I sat down with Brittanie Kelso, who for the first time in fifteen years decided that it was time to share her story. A story that after hearing it gave me even more respect for the strong, resilient, and caring woman that she has become. Britt shares her story in this week's podcast leaves a message for the wives, mothers, children, and all of us that are left behind when someone ends their own life.


Just two days ago we were having a powerful conversation in our offices that shocked Brittanie. Everyone eventually left my office and went back to our daily duties, but Brittanie went to her office and wrote, pouring all of the feelings that she was experiencing onto the page. We have been waiting for the right time to release Brittanie's story, and it was clear to all of us that it was time. Rather than write any more of my own words, I am instead going to let Brittanie tell her story.


Written by Brittanie Kelso on August 4, 2023


Likely the most difficult and raw thing I’ve ever shared…but after 15 years I think it’s time. Be kind.


For anyone who listens to the podcast attached….please be aware that there are very detailed and triggering things said about real life ending experiences. Please, please tread lightly. It’s very hard things to hear but in order to make change we need to have the hard conversations and feel the uncomfortable feelings. With that being said share away because it’s time for the hard stuff…it’s time for CHANGE. Also, remember everyone has different experiences and memories from each life altering experience and one does not negate nor does it deny the other.


Last Friday I was having a wicked good conversation with some super humans who have in my opinion, been put on this earth by the collective to make massive change in this world. I learned what it’s like in a certain place where my late husband was temporarily housed just weeks prior to his suicide, from my understanding at the time he was there to get help with his mental state to become stronger and better for himself and our children. He would never share with me much of what happened there, aside from saying “I am not crazy…I just need help” with the most defeated look on his face that I will never forget. At the time, in my young misunderstood mind, I sincerely thought he might need more help than he thought he needed after that statement. I mean how could being in a hospital and a treatment center not be helping? That’s what they are there for…right?


I held back my tears as hard as I could during my late morning conversation that day because I wanted to really take it all in and hear it all to understand it and not break down and lose focus. As I took my sweatshirt collar and held it over my quivering lip, I was sick to my stomach to hear how broken our mental health system is in this country. It shattered me to hear stories and feel someone else’s pain and suffering from their stent in the same place my husband was. I was dying inside knowing that he told me…he told me in 8 words and his facial expressions nearly 15 years ago to the day the same things that were being expressed to me now… but until that moment, during that conversation, I did not understand, nor did I have the capacity at that time so long ago to understand what he was saying and feeling. I do now Bri, I do now.


I firmly believe that things align at the perfect time in the perfect order to support your purpose in each lifetime…About a month or so ago I recorded a podcast related to Suicide and shared for the first time in 15 years my family’s story in full…the good, the bad, and the ugly. To today only the two people who sat in that podcast know it all. Today is the day the world can hear it if they decide to, it will hopefully help people’s mindsets change with a little more understanding and compassion on the subject. I had never once spoken the whole story from start to finish to a soul…I have never had the guts to share until I began working at Step by Step. I have always been one who believes you should do what’s right even when no one is looking, as a matter a fact that’s when morality shows…when no one’s looking… that is when actions and thoughts are most important. My mindset, understanding of people’s situations, compassion, and need to do what’s right no matter the cost, has heightened immensely since the day I walked into my office in the former Lincoln School building. The environment at SBS is a true place to grow your soul and amplify your strengths in a comfortable, judgement free space, for that I am forever grateful.


A few days ago, I was at my parents’ house and found myself in the big garages where I have all the things I hold dearest to my heart but don’t want to lose stored. I opened a box where I found a letter from my Gramma from 12 years ago and right beneath that letter was Brians Boston Red Sox hat that he wore EVERYWHERE. That hat is the only physical item I have to remember him by. The letter was regarding some wedding dishes from my Gram and Grandpas wedding that she knew Grandpa would want me to have and, in the letter, she shared in her beautiful handwriting her and Grandpas love and support for me…they were many times in my life the people I would go when I needed a pick me up and some advice and they both always pushed me to follow what I believe in. I for some reason decided it was time to pull that letter and hat out and bring them home with me where they belong. My husband, Thomas Kelso, now of 13 years asked me “why are you bringing that stuff home today?” I responded with “I’m not sure I just feel like it’s time.” Now… I know why. It took a long time but all my growth over the last decade and half along with all these events listed above aligned perfectly to support a mission I am meant to see through.


Mental health and suicide awareness…I am coming for you.


~Brittanie Kelso


I would like to thank Brittanie for having the courage to share her story. We are incredibly lucky to have her as a part of our team.


Brittanie has a very powerful message that hits home to all of us that have lost someone close to us. Set aside some time to listen to Brittanie's story. You won't regret it.


Carrie Woodcock

Director of Wellness and Recovery Services




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