Encouragement and Hope: A Mother’s Story
René Rosendahl experienced the worst tragedy a parent can endure. René’s son, Bradley, died by suicide in 2011. In her darkest hour, she didn’t know where to turn. Then she got a call from Face It Foundation cofounder Bill Dehkes, who had been Bradley’s softball teammate.
“I remember Bradley telling me about a friend of his who had just started this organization helping men with depression,” René says. “I didn’t know Bill at that time. I just knew that Bradley admired him and was really happy about what he was doing.”
Dehkes put her in touch with other mothers who had lost children to suicide. Over time, a core group of about six members began meeting regularly for dinner, attending retreats and supporting each other through their grief. Over time, René has made herself available for others in their time of need, the way Dehkes did for her.
“I know of other moms who are just starting on this journey, and they know I’m available when they’re ready. You have to be ready,” she says. “It’s just been the last year that I’ve finally accepted the fact that this is reality.”
After turning to alcohol to self-medicate his depression, Bradley went through treatment and lived in recovery for eight years, helping countless other young men he sponsored along the way.
“Treatment was hard, because his circle of friends were drinking buddies. It took him awhile to embrace that and actually start working the program,” René says. “He was 20 years old when he got sober. And he ended up sponsoring lots of young men – he helped so many people.”
Evidence of Bradley’s impact was obvious after he died.
“It seems like I might be exaggerating the numbers as years go by, but I think there were 700 people at his visitation,” René says. “People waited in line for a couple of hours just to get through. It was amazing.”
He had gone back to college and completed his degree in political science at the University of Minnesota. But depression was lurking under the surface of an otherwise successful and accomplished young man.
“Bradley had the biggest heart and the kindest heart and he never would do anything to hurt anyone, so it’s hard to understand,” René says. “But he had to be in excruciating pain.”
Now his mother is giving her own pain a purpose, with the help of Face It.
“Face It has brought me encouragement and hope, that Bradley’s story might help someone,” René says. “And just the support that they have offered the moms. They have a heavy burden already with the guys, but they still give more. It’s incredible. They just keep giving.”