At the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley discusses loss of a parent via suicide with personal grief coach Franklin Cook. “My dad died of suicide in 1978,” says Cook, which began his interest in the field but it took two decades before Cook was fully immersed. He was in his early 20s when his dad died, and it wasn’t until his 40s that he began actively volunteering in suicide bereavement organizations. Now, he’s been doing peer support for those who lost a parent to suicide.
Cook’s father took his own life by cutting himself while under suicide watch in a hospital. “I think to ask for help from others who have had a similar experience…going it alone, there’s a place for that. But truly if you can find someone you can relate to and talk to about this, that can be extremely helpful.” It took a long time for Cook to reach out to a peer support group, but when he did he says it felt like going home.
While he underwent a lot of recovery in the 20 years after his father’s death and became active in suicide bereavement, it wasn’t until Cook found a peer support group that the healing really sped up. In those 20 years he also got clean. However, that community of people who lost someone to suicide made the biggest impact.
“I’m hoping that people who haven’t found help will find it,” he says, and that’s why he began his own private personal grief coaching. Cook works with those in bereavement around the country and encourages anyone who lost a parent, or any loved one, to suicide to secure a support group that works for them.