From Grieving Children to Contented Old Men: How True Friendship Rescued Us

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September 10, 2020 | 2:00 p.m. Eastern | 11:00 a.m. Pacific (1 hour)
Free for NAGC Members and Guests

Presentation Description

What is it like to be a young teenage male and lose your mother to suicide? To be left behind by the person who’s supposed to love you the most? Not knowing who to turn to for emotional support in the face of such a devastating loss? If you did seek help, personal or professional, and voice your grief and fears and litany of questions, would you be perceived by others, by society – or worse, see yourself -- as a weakling? Do you have the inner strength to remain silent, uncomplaining, ignoring your hurt, anger and confusion, and push forward as “real men” are supposed to do?

When Rick and David met in 1966, they were lonely, frustrated, subdued 17-year old boys whose mothers had ended their lives with sleeping pills just a few years before. Soon realizing the terrible “secret” they shared, they became friends instantly, brothers soon after. Whether it was fate or coincidence that brought them together, their friendship proved to be their salvation. At a time when the word “suicide” was taboo and family support services were scarce and perceived skeptically by many, including their fathers, they opened up to each other in ways they’d been unable to do with anyone else. In so doing, they soon grasped – and eventually confronted – the mix of pent up emotions that threatened to destroy them, as they had their mothers. During their 60-year friendship, they talked candidly about their mothers’ suicides only with each other (and years later, with two other close friends who had also lost a parent to suicide). Until recently, that is, when they were moved to share their story with family and close friends via Sons of Suicide: A Memoir of Friendship. Seven years in the writing, the book frankly reveals their uncertainties and dilemmas, regrets and triumphs -- and discloses snapshots of how their abiding friendship guided them through life’s most vulnerable moments. And still does, especially when it comes to the baffling, inescapable trauma of their mothers’ suicides.

In this webinar, they’ll share recollections, insights and lessons learned, and field questions regarding their experiences as life-long grieving children and survivors of suicide loss.

About the Presenters

Plain Dealer Pincus Knapp IMG 6755 JDPEdits 4x7 BorderRick Knapp and David Pincus, co-authors of Sons of Suicide:  A Memoir of Friendship, have been close friends since meeting as high school seniors more than 50 years ago.  Both attended the University of Maryland as undergraduates – Rick in journalism and David in political science.  Subsequently, Rick earned his M.A. in journalism at The Ohio State University, while David stayed at Maryland for his Master’s and Ph.D. in organizational communication.

Following stints in the U.S. Air Force and at AT&T, Rick’s professional life was spent as a management consultant, partner and leader with global consulting firms Foster Higgins and Mercer, focusing on employee and organizational communication and human resources.  He retired in 2012, but has yet to slow down.  He serves on the boards of Cleveland Play House, America’s first regional theatre, and ideastream, the public media organization in Northeast Ohio.  Among his passions are photography, cooking, baseball and travel.  He and his wife Ellen still live in Cleveland.  

By contrast, David’s professional life followed two distinctly different directions, yet also within the field of communication.  The first was in business, most notably as Marriott Corporation’s first organization-wide employee communication director.  His later and longer role was in academia, where he held faculty and leadership positions in the communication and business schools at Cal State Fullerton and the University of Southern California, then as MBA director at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  Now also retired, David and his wife Karen reside in Oceanside, California, and like Rick, David is an avid photographer, a huge baseball fan and an ardent world traveler.