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Author Karisa Moore continues to turn the page on her son’s suicide through new book

By Vicki Prichard
NKyTribune reporter

Karisa Moore knows first-hand about the healing power of words – especially the right ones at the right time.

Through her new book, Broken Butterflies: Emerging from Grief, A Suicide Survivor’s Poetic Journal, she hopes that her words will offer wise counsel and hope to readers.

Moore’s son Jonathan, who committed suicide in 2014, and his siblings, Daniel and Natalie (provided photo).

It was four years ago that Moore’s son, Jonathan, committed suicide after battling depression. He was 18 years old.

On Saturday, she will hold her first book signing at Reality Tuesday in Park Hills from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in roughly 4,600 lives lost each year. Each year, approximately 157,000 youth between 10 and 24 are treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. for self-inflicted injuries.

“In the first days after Jonathan’s suicide, I didn’t sleep,” says Moore. “I found comfort in notes friends and classmates left on his Facebook page. A young lady shared a note Jonathan slipped into her book bag when she was having a rough day. This was Jonathan through and through. No matter what he was experiencing himself, he wanted to make sure others were encouraged.”

Moore, who lives in Union, describes her son as the kind of young man who affirmed and valued anyone who crossed his path. He adored his young brother and sister, Daniel and Natalie, and enjoyed entertaining them with Legos, storytelling and Nerf battles. He was creative, had a mind for science, and he shared his mother’s love of writing. He loved Star Wars movies and trivia. Up until he became too sick, he enjoyed playing lacrosse.

“Jonathan was potentially battling Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that his brother has now been diagnosed with,” says Moore. “Patients with this disease often battle depression because of chronic pain. It began affecting his brain during his junior year and we believe he had a perfect storm, all his triggers happening at once. He was open and honest with his struggle with despair.”

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in 2016, an estimated 3.1 million adolescents between 12 and 17 in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode.

Karisa Moore will sign her book, Broken Butterflies, Emerging through Grief, at Reality Tuesday in Park Hills on Saturday, July 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Navigating her way through grief, Moore’s faith became a key foundation for support and healing, and so did writing. Her blog, Turning the Page on Suicide, offers a testimony that there is hope for abundant life after suicide.

“I learned about making prayer, scripture, fellowship, and witnessing a regular part of my walk with Christ through my college bible-study group 21 years ago. That foundation became vital; I simply couldn’t take in any new information when Jonathan died. I was broken – physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

Scriptures that she had memorized, she says, kept her mind stable as she grieved – so did friends and family.

“I cannot emphasize enough, grieving is not meant to be done in isolation,” says Moore. “Friends, family, and my blog readers remind me to hope, give me the gift of laughter, and challenge me when I am caught up in fear.”

In the first year after Jonathan’s suicide, Moore says she had a “great” counselor and sought out additional bible counseling. But when she saw her children’s grief shifting last year, she knew they needed to connect with their loss in a different way.

“I took them through hospice grief counseling at St. Elizabeth,” says Moore. “These trained, compassionate individuals helped us to have a safe place to share openly and come up with creative ways to both remember Jonathan and grieve our loss together.”

Today, family traditions include hiking the cemetery trails on Mother’s Day, creating special ornaments, coloring, and writing together, looking through family photos and asking questions.

“My kids and my husband are different, they grieve in their own unique ways,” says Moore. “Respect and understanding help us to be patient when emotions are running hot. We learn and grow closer together because we share our burden.”

Karisa Moore and her son, Jonathan, at his graduation form Dixie Heights High School.

Moore considers connection with others to be a central to the grieving process.

“For those who are grieving, let others comfort,” she says. “They may stumble, but joy, laughter, and hope are found when we stay connected. Isolation is the enemy of healthy grief. Build essential relationships with those around you. Be real in each day you are given. Grief is messy, but hope restores joy, faith, and peace.”

Moore says there is strength in waiting, quieting the spirit, and expecting good things to come. She also sees a great value in writing and encourages those who are grieving to write their story.

“Write your story in whatever way you are gifted,” says Moore. “Your life has value and affects others you meet in more ways than you are aware. Engaging life is not based upon feelings, they are guiding tools. Habit and choices, and grit, power us through the dark time to become beautiful, yet broken, butterflies. We are all cocooned in circumstances, not always knowing how our individual stories are interwoven together. But, make no mistake, we affect one another.”

Moore chose poetry as her first vehicle to deliver a message on grief and suicide saying her poems express in a short, concise way the struggle of being a survivor of suicide.

“In a world of so much information, we are overwhelmed by ideas about depression and grief,” says Moore. “I tried to write consistently, and sometimes all I could manage was to press forward in short haikus that capture the core image of what I felt and observed about grief, hope, and God.”

Moore says take-aways from the book’s poetry include:

• Don’t’ be afraid to wrestle with God in your grief or struggle with despair.

• Hope, joy, and peace can be found by turning each page, even the hardest ones.

• Live open to the possibilities of new days.

• Despair my wound us, but that isn’t the end of God’s story through us.

• Our lives are a part of a bigger story, one that gives hope to the world.

To inform others about depression, both those who personally battle its grip and those who have loved ones living with depression, Moore advises that every story is worth writing, even the hardest ones.

“History is full of Corrie Ten Booms and Abraham Lincolns, both of whom struggled with despair,” says Moore. “I believe brokenness is the norm, not the exception. Armed with that knowledge, we remain vigilant in our workplace, close relationships, and casual relationships, for opportunities to offer hope, encouragement, and a listening ear.”

Moore says she’s found that keeping life simple and practical, gets her through the day.

“The poetry collected in this book is living the “give us this day our daily bread” part of the Lord’s Prayer. The past does not sustain us, and we’ll drown ourselves in fear waiting for the future. Today is enough. Poetry is enough.”

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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