Dear Sean

DEAR SEAN:

My dad committed suicide last night.

I just need to tell someone,
ELEVEN-IN-EAST-FLORIDA

DEAR ELEVEN:

I have only one thing I want you to know. I want you to know that I love you. I truly mean it. I love you.

Read that last sentence again. Read it often.

You don’t know how much I love you. You will never know how much. But it doesn’t matter whether you do or don’t know because it wouldn’t change how much I care about you.

And I am only one person. I am one of thousands who love you. Millions. Septillions. Octillions. Nonillions. Decillions. We all love you.

That’s a lot of love with your name on it.

I bring all this up because the first thing you’re going to feel after losing a loved one to suicide is that you live in a loveless world. This is how I felt when my family endured the suicide of my father. I was about your age. I felt, for some reason, that nobody in the world cared about me.

I have spoken with thousands of people throughout the years who have undergone the same trauma. They all say pretty much the same thing. They feel like the love has been sucked out of their whole existence. They feel as though they themselves are unloved.

So in the following weeks, you might start to mistakenly think this world is totally against you. You might start to think life is full of people who are self-centered, self-righteous, self-congratulatory, self-important, self-seeking, self-interested, self-whatever.

You might feel that nobody is really paying much attention to you. You might feel unloved. Unseen. Misunderstood.

And, to be fair, you aren’t totally wrong. People are selfish in this world. They are uncaring. They are indifferent. They are cold. Not everyone is paying attention to you. Some are too concerned with themselves right now.

Believe me, over the next months, you’re going to have a front-row view of adults and children behaving in self-absorbed ways. Funerals bring out the most human sides of people.

But.

That doesn’t mean you aren’t loved. You are. Especially by certain people who belong to a secret society of suffering humans. These people love you. And these people know things. They know what you’re going through.

These people aren’t in-your-face about all they’ve suffered in their lives. They don’t flaunt it. They fly under the radar. But they’re out there, right now, as we speak, looking for you.

These heaven-sent people will find you, I promise. Because they found me. And they changed me. They brought me through the worst experience of my life, carrying me on their shoulders when I couldn’t walk. They fed me when I couldn’t eat. They helped me breathe when I couldn’t.

They will come to you by way of miracles. You will not expect them, but they will suddenly show up in your world. They will rescue you from yourself. They will save you from the bitterness and cynicism that will try to wreck your heart.

And they will prove to you—beyond doubt—that you are loved.

And I don’t mean that you are merely loved by a few humans here on earth. No.

You are loved by the whole universe, my friend. You are loved by time and space. You are loved by the planets and the stars. By the sun and the moon. You are loved by every animal on this planet. By every rock, tree and blade of grass. You are loved by the one who made all these things.

You are so loved that it would overwhelm you to know how truly loved you are. It would probably cause your heart to stop beating. It would make your circulatory system quit working. Because we are talking about a nuclear explosion of love here.

We are talking about a force so incredible that one day, many years from now, when you don’t hurt so bad, some kid from East Florida will write you a note like the one you wrote me, and it will break you.

You will read this note on your laptop monitor, and you will weep until you can’t. Until your head hurts. Then you will wipe your face on your sleeve and write this child a very long letter using hundreds of feeble words, when you could have just used three.

69 comments

  1. dyata54 - June 21, 2022 7:15 am

    Wow!🥲

    Reply
  2. Hugh Burt - June 21, 2022 8:46 am

    God Loves you and I Love you and I want you know that ! And never ever forget this! It’s ok to cry for it’s your built in relief valve and i will pray for you and think of you often!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Bj - June 22, 2022 12:19 pm

      Amen to Hugh’s reply! So sorry! I was 11 when my Daddy died. That was hard enough… but it wasn’t suicide…

      Reply
  3. Hester Guest - June 21, 2022 8:48 am

    Thank you for sharing Jesus! Your reply is filled with love, compassion,, and a promise. Praying for this precious person and for others who have dealt with a loved one who has committed suicide. God bless you and your ministry.

    Reply
  4. MaryPage Jones - June 21, 2022 9:43 am

    I love you 11 year old. I love you because you reached out, because you are 11, because you matter in this worl, because you are you. I love you. I cry with you. I love you ❤️

    Reply
  5. Leigh Amiot - June 21, 2022 10:03 am

    Camp Good Mourning events used to be held all over the country, not sure the status since the pandemic, but the camp is often sponsored by a hospice organization and is specifically for young kids who have lost a parent or sibling. I wish this resource had been available when my father died. I was also 11, he was only 42.

    Reply
  6. Lani - June 21, 2022 10:08 am

    Every wretched dysfunctional thing that happens in this world has its roots in the fact that they did not know how much they were loved. Love heals all wounds.

    Reply
  7. Leslie in NC - June 21, 2022 10:30 am

    Dear sweet 11 year old, I weep with you. And, with you too, Sean. I am sending much love through the universe to you both and to all the multitudes of those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Peace be with you.❤️

    Reply
  8. Dee - June 21, 2022 10:50 am

    Dear Sean and Eleven,
    I will think of you today , next week, next month, and next year. I will not forget you. Each time I remember I will send you Love and many prayers.
    I did not experience your kind of loss, but God has filled me with a heart that wants to reach out to you today. Just know that.

    Reply
  9. Liz H - June 21, 2022 11:02 am

    Eleven, You are indeed loved. You are amazing and you make the world a better place.

    Reply
  10. Ed (Bear) - June 21, 2022 11:04 am

    “Eleven” and Sean, I love you too.

    If someone “commits” suicide, they are inflicting heart wrenching pain on everyone that loves them. Anyone who “commits” suicide is as sick as we humans can get. There’s no worse disease on the planet. Cancer doesn’t come close. Suicide is the deadliest of diseases because many people that are suicidal conceal their mental pain. Concealing mental anguish is part of the disease. Mental anguish occurs when we have problems thinking clearly and lose control of rational brain function. Thinking becomes involuntary and chaotic. This causes great and severe discomfort and we “feel” the pain as if we’ve broken all our body’s bones. It’s a helpless feeling. Suicide appears to be the only relief and we lose comprehension of what we would put our loved ones through. The surviving loved ones are victims too and need help. The survivor feels unfairly abandoned.

    Love is the best help. Healing takes time. Sharing thoughts with others helps get through the anguish of losing a loved one. Knowing that others love you helps with healing.

    Reply
  11. Barbara Z. - June 21, 2022 11:08 am

    The sparrows of the field,

    Reply
  12. pumpkinandprose - June 21, 2022 11:19 am

    All. of. this. Sean, so eloquent and simple at the same time. Perfectly expressed.
    Eleven, you are so loved, you are so cared for. I am so sorry for what you’re walking through.

    Reply
  13. Vicky - June 21, 2022 11:32 am

    Dear Shawn: In case you need to be reminded, you are also loved by millions. Just in case you need to be reminded.

    Reply
  14. Leigh Amiot - June 21, 2022 11:32 am

    Ed (Bear), I took a screen shot of your reply in order to mull over, reference. I’ve heard of suicide being described as the most selfish thing a person can do, and that is a horrifically wrong, abusive definition of suicide. You more compassionately put one result of suicide as “inflicting heart wrenching pain on everyone that loves them,” then went further saying “we lose comprehension of what we would have put our loved ones through.” My grandmother’s eldest brother took his own life, and her baby brother, a beloved great-uncle, once described to me the years long process he went through in concluding that his brother had not sent his own soul to hell as some had suggested, also a cruel definition of suicide. I wish my great-uncle who grieved his brother’s loss had had what you shared, would have spared him much mental/spiritual anguish.

    Reply
    • Ed - June 21, 2022 9:17 pm

      Dear Leigh, Thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry for your great uncle’s death from suicide and your family’s suffering. I grew up with the similar misnomers from others about suicide. It’s difficult for people to understand why someone would take their own life. Especially when they’re loved. I admire Sean for his being able to help others so much even though he suffered tremendous pain from his own father’s death. We are blessed to have Sean in our midst. I hope Eleven realizes how much he is loved. https://www.eds-art.net/meetings/#suicide

      Reply
  15. Sara Shaver - June 21, 2022 11:33 am

    Sean
    My favorite Bible verse is Romans12:28. Paraphrased it is that God makes good of all things for those who love the Lord. The pain that you have from your father’s suicide is being used for good over and over. I am sorry that you had to endure what I can’t even imagine but I am grateful that you use it for good in our world.

    Reply
  16. Patricia Collins - June 21, 2022 11:42 am

    Tell him he is loved by numerous strangers that knows how he feels. He may never know us but we do love him and send big bear hugs to him.

    Reply
  17. Cathy Walsh - June 21, 2022 11:46 am

    Please tell that child that I love them, too.

    Reply
  18. MR - June 21, 2022 12:02 pm

    Once again, Sean. . . tears in my coffee this morning. I was doing well until that last paragraph and then you got to me. You are a beautiful human being.

    Reply
  19. MR - June 21, 2022 12:08 pm

    And to the 11 year old child. . . .He has you in His hands and just as Sean says, YOU ARE LOVED.

    Reply
  20. Stacie Brown - June 21, 2022 12:10 pm

    Eleven you are loved! There so many who have been through this and we truly understand what you are feeling and what you will be going through. Thank you for reaching out to Sean. We will be praying for you.

    Reply
    • Julianne - June 21, 2022 3:59 pm

      Oh precious Eleven. All the pain in your heart? Your dad had that pain, too. His mind kept shutting door after door in his thinking, until he couldn’t find his way in this world anymore. Life got too hard. Your dad’s way of leaving his pain has nothing to do with the love he had for you. And nothing to do with anything you ever said or did. It had to do with being so confused with how to handle what his broken brain was telling him, he lost his ability to make any healthy choices anymore. He never wanted to leave you, he just wanted to leave his pain and the chaos in his head.
      I love you, too, Eleven, even if we don’t know each other. I love the you who is really, really brave, and smart, and made the super healthy choice to tell Sean about your own pain. I love you as the kid who is going to grow up quicker than you expected, because your dad’s passing changes how you see the world. I love you as you learn to keep making healthy choices and talking to the people who will love and help you.
      I am praying for you every day now, Eleven. I’m a Catholic Benedictine nun, we pray three times every day, and I have your name (well, Eleven) tucked in my prayer book. And I will put a note on our Prayer Board asking all my Sister’s to pray for you, so 160 of us will keep reminding God that this brave kid we call Eleven needs a bunch of love and healing flowing into their life. You can do hard things, Eleven. Even things this hard. All the people reading your story and people they tell and the next tell and on and on – ALL those people are praying for you. We got you, Eleven, we got you tight. And God has to make more room in the Universe to hold all the love pouring into you.

      Reply
      • throughmyeyesusa - June 21, 2022 9:18 pm

        Brilliant, Sister Julianne, simply brilliant, compassionate and beautifully put.
        Thank you for reminding sweet, brave “Eleven” that his dad acted out of pain and feelings of futility and that he had no responsibility for his dad’s actions. Your praise for his strength and wisdom in writing were lovely and only you have the force of 160 sisters behind your love and your prayers! We know our all-loving God has “Eleven” in the palm of His hand. Bless you for reminding him of that and that “God has to make more room in the the Universe to hold all the love pouring into you”. We’ve got your back, “Eleven”! Sending love and prayers to you…..and to you Sean, for sharing.

        Reply
  21. Eshanne - June 21, 2022 12:13 pm

    Now, the rest of us tender hearted broken sad people are crying too. May we all know we are so loved. Amen.

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  22. Becky Thomas - June 21, 2022 12:13 pm

    God bless you! I love you both!!

    Reply
  23. 1974Salt - June 21, 2022 12:17 pm

    Amen, Sean! He loves, you me, each and every soul so much, that He sent His only Son, to the Cross in the greatest act of Love possible; so that each and every soul ever created can overcome our selfishness and share the journey home to the Father who loves us unconditionally! He is truly Our Prodigal Father!!

    Reply
  24. Debbie - June 21, 2022 12:21 pm

    Oh Sean,
    You are so right♥️

    Reply
  25. sjhl7 - June 21, 2022 12:22 pm

    You are loved! God loves you, Sean loves you and so many others love you. As you travel through this world you will be loved by many. May God bless you and keep you safe and loved always!

    Reply
  26. Joy Jacobs - June 21, 2022 12:24 pm

    Dear Eleven. Sean is the exact person to be communicating with. He knows exactly how you feel. He’s been in your shoes. ❤️

    Reply
  27. Anne Arthur - June 21, 2022 12:25 pm

    Heartbreaking.
    Only Love can heal such deep wound. Thank you, Sean, for your capacity to love so much. May God heal the soul of dear Eleven, and yours too.

    Reply
  28. Gaylan W Brown - June 21, 2022 12:38 pm

    I love you Sean for caring so much@

    Reply
  29. Pingback: Sean of the South: Dear Sean | The Trussville Tribune

  30. widge55Theresa - June 21, 2022 1:02 pm

    WOW!!!!!!!

    Reply
  31. David Britnell - June 21, 2022 1:15 pm

    Eleven, I love you! We all love you! I wish we could all be your dad for but that’s not possible. Just know that God loves you too, more than all of us combined. Thank you Sean for sharing this. We love you too!!

    Reply
  32. Jeanne - June 21, 2022 1:20 pm

    I read your column every morning – and, to be honest, sometimes I get tired of hearing about your father’s suicide. Today, though – today was different – this touched me immensely. Thank you – and even thank you for when I don’t like what you write – maybe those are the ones I NEED to read…

    Reply
  33. bunnybeckett - June 21, 2022 1:40 pm

    Dear Eleven, Dear Sean,
    You are both loved by a weeping woman in Branson, MO.

    Reply
  34. Bill Hilley - June 21, 2022 1:44 pm

    You’re a good man Sean Dietrich

    Reply
  35. Ruth Mitchell - June 21, 2022 1:55 pm

    Dear ELEVEN-IN-EAST-FLORIDA,
    Sean is so right, and I pray that through all of that love you will find that peace that goes beyond human understanding!

    Reply
  36. Toni - June 21, 2022 2:14 pm

    Dear Eleven,
    I won’t forget about you. I know your life has just been changed forever. I will ask Jesus to walk beside you every day. And He will carry you when you can’t walk on your own.

    Reply
  37. Buffie - June 21, 2022 2:18 pm

    This reply to one hurting from suicide in his family is really creative and caring. Ours was a 13 year old! But I am still emotional about this when anyone else experiences it. YOU DO HAVE A WONDERFUL GIFT OF WORDS!! Thanks

    Reply
  38. Connie - June 21, 2022 2:26 pm

    Oh how God is using you Sean. Never forget that!!

    Reply
  39. robnrockin - June 21, 2022 2:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing love Sean. Know you are loved too…and that sweet wife of yours. Sending a virtual hug to you both!

    Reply
  40. Larry Snow - June 21, 2022 2:39 pm

    Sean, you are an amazing man with a heart of gold. Thank you for being you. I also love this young man as so many other wonderful people that have read this. I thank all of you for keeping ELEVEN in your prayers as I have.

    Reply
  41. Holly Rabalais - June 21, 2022 3:33 pm

    Hey Eleven–I love you all the way from Mississippi.

    Reply
  42. Deena(DeeDee) - June 21, 2022 4:23 pm

    The power in your spoken words is undeniable. God certainly blessed you with a special gift.
    Please don’t stop writing until your fingers can typ no more, or you cannot speak the words for someone else can write for you. You touch my heart in some way every single day

    Reply
  43. Susie Flick - June 21, 2022 4:33 pm

    Hugs and love to this wonderful 11 year old.

    Reply
  44. Susan - June 21, 2022 4:34 pm

    Weeping with you. You have most likely saved the young boy from days, months, or years of feeling guilty or depression. If you know, you know. And, you know. Blessings.

    Reply
  45. Randall Kemp - June 21, 2022 5:01 pm

    I lost my father to suicide. And I love you. I know what you are feeling because I felt it, but right now 38 years later, I am still here and I am loved and so are you, I love you, lots of people love you.

    Reply
  46. Gloria Van Nostrand - June 21, 2022 5:42 pm

    Perfect response. Lots of us do care and will keep you in our prayers.

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  47. Debbie Johnson - June 21, 2022 5:47 pm

    Dear Eleven, Sean is right. I don’t know you but I love you and I hurt with you. My Pastor’s father committed suicide and my pastor was 18 and he can certainly identify with you. His name is Pastor Mike Rippy at Evangel in Montgomery AL. He would love to talk to you. I will be praying for you and your family.

    Reply
  48. Karen Holderman - June 21, 2022 6:18 pm

    Eleven, Sean knows what he is talking about. Trust him. I will be praying for you.

    Reply
  49. Ellen - June 21, 2022 7:15 pm

    dear Eleven in East Florida, You are loved. Dear Sean, you are loved.

    Reply
  50. Ellen - June 21, 2022 7:21 pm

    Dear Eleven, you are loved. Dear Sean, you are loved. You are in my prayers.

    Reply
  51. Miss Jillian Crocker - June 21, 2022 7:48 pm

    I love you!!!

    Reply
  52. Patricia Gibson - June 21, 2022 7:51 pm

    Hang on!!!I love you and so do millions of others! Prayers 🙏🙏

    Reply
  53. Debbie Taylor - June 21, 2022 8:30 pm

    I love this young man, too. And I love you, Sean.

    Reply
  54. Linda Moon - June 21, 2022 10:13 pm

    Those words to Dear Sean needed to be told. I heard similar words once. ELEVEN, I love you and some other guys too, including Sean Paul Dietrich.

    Reply
  55. Susan - June 22, 2022 2:13 am

    Love you, Eleven♥️ Praying for you🙏🙏

    Reply
  56. Tina T Thompson - June 22, 2022 2:27 am

    I instantly started to cry after reading her comment. I was overwhelmed with a memory that I had stored away. I cried. When I was 10, I walked into the garage to find by loving mover putting a rope over a rafter. I asked what she was doing. She said “I’m going to kill myself.” This was just after a very violent agurement with my father. I started to cry and begged her not to do this. She stopped and we cried together. She never tried to do that again. She was the most wonderful woman and mother in the whole world. My mother never deserved what my father dished out. I loved her so much. At the time, I never realized what a disfunctional family we had. She died 7 years later of a high blood preserure problem. My father would not buy her medication. I prayed that she would live and he would die. That didn’t happen.

    Reply
  57. JonDragonfly - June 22, 2022 4:41 am

    Eleven,
    I love you.
    Jon

    Reply
  58. NancyB. - June 22, 2022 2:05 pm

    Dear Eleven–I love you to the moon and back. No, make that to Pluto and back. No, no. Make that to Andromeda and back! Eleven, always remember that someone from mid-Missouri loves you with an entire universe full of love! Sean, you and Jamie are also included in that universe full of love.

    Reply
  59. Rebecca Daffin - June 22, 2022 2:16 pm

    Dear Eleven-There are very few words that can make you feel better right now, but many are praying for you because we know the power of prayer. You may not be able to pray because you are angry with God for letting this happen, That is okay for now. That is why so many of us want to pray for you. We are praying that through this time of mourning, you remember all the good times with your father and how much he loved you. We are praying that those around you will comfort you and say the right things to encourage you. We are praying that you can forgive those people who say the wrong things and make you feel worse. Please know they do not mean to be unkind but do not know what to say. We are praying that you have a church family that will show you God’s love in very real way. Most of all, we are praying that through this terrible time, you will come to know God personally and trust HIm to make you better. Be patient (very hard to do) and, in time, you will emerge from this fog of grief and, like Sean, do great things because of it. Rebecca

    Reply
  60. Larry Wall - June 22, 2022 3:15 pm

    Sean, you had the right words for our young friend, Eleven. And to Eleven, Sean and the other commenters are telling you the truth. We all do love you and will hold you tightly in our hearts and minds. But no matter what we do, it will not be easy for you for a while. It will be easier if you forgive your dad and don’t hold a grudge because he left you and the rest of your family. I pray that you will never know the difficulties of depression. It is a dark and lonely place that your dad couldn’t escape. Pray every morning and ask JESUS to walk with you that day and keep you strong. HE will be there anyway but it will make you stronger if you talk with HIM about your needs. HE loves you more than anyone else does.

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  61. Suzanne - June 22, 2022 4:26 pm

    Dear Eleven, I know the agony and the courage it took for you to write those words to Sean. You are loved and understood by so many people here. Everything will feel strange and some people won’t know how to talk to you for a while. When that happens come back here and read Sean’s words and the comments. We are holding you tight in our hearts and we will never let go. You are loved.💕

    Reply
  62. Tim Atkinson - June 22, 2022 7:26 pm

    Dear Eleven, This old Grandpa in Lake City loves you and wishes he could be a grandpa to you. You were brave to write to Sean. It was the right thing to do. I will not forget you.

    Reply
  63. Christina Renee Nations - June 22, 2022 7:49 pm

    What a guy!

    Reply
  64. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - June 26, 2022 11:13 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  65. Donna McChristian - June 27, 2022 12:32 am

    Sean, I read you every day. I cry, I laugh, I ponder, and often I feel sweetly humbled that my own writing has room for improvement. I love that part. Knowing I have something to work towards. But today, your response to Eleven shook me to my core. It changed me and yet, kept me the same. Deep down, somewhere in my soul, something shouted, “This! This is what I’ve been trying to tell you! These are the words I’ve been searching to explain to you all the things you’ve been asking! This!” Oh, and Eleven, I love you, I really do love you.

    Reply

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