Good morning faithful reader – 12/08/2021
My name is Bob Cristello. I am a spokesperson for grief and suicide. My son, Anthony James Cristello, killed himself on August 16, 2017 at the age of 35. On that day, I became a member in one of the largest world-wide clubs that no one ever wanted to be a member of.
I now write, speak and dedicate all of my personal and professional resources to aiding in an answer to why our children are dying at the rate of every 40 seconds around the world. I am a United States Army Veteran, who has never been in combat. Yet, 22 of my brothers and sisters in arms die each day from the rigors of PTSD, Depression and Traumatic Brain-Stem Injury related mental health issues.
As you may have noticed, we have not made any public posts for the past ten days other than general social media posts. The blessings of grief have been bountiful and we have attempted to navigate our mission as best we can now. The days of grueling, gut-wrenching searching are behind us and we stand in the light born anew, with new purpose.
We accepted an offer from an entertainment management company that I have trusted for most of my adult life. A company that believes in my vision and has handled very large representation in the past. You might say I am with a historically unique company. I have always thought of them as family and I am grateful they feel the same in return.
We built 57 posts in 4 weeks that contained 35,000 words. The book itself contains 40,000 words and needs to be shaved down to about 25,000 to be released. So, we are editing our past as we live our present and plan our future. I never thought I would be able to make that statement without lying, but here we are. We have landed on our feet, secured employment to sustain our lives and we have projects that are worthwhile in the world.
While my story touches many boxes, it is just a human story. I am a parent, a student, a rape survivor, a recovering drug addict and husband of the most amazing person on earth. I do not wish to hurt anyone and I do want to help, especially parents of suicide for that is what I am now. I am a father who lost his child to suicide and I could not answer the question “Why” my son killed himself. I did, however, endure a grueling personal inventory that allowed me to answer the question “What was my role in the death of my son”?
Once we make this step, we discover if we are culpable as I discovered about myself, or we have no responsibility in the death of our child. Either truth is acceptable, once we learn acceptance. We learn this from each other by sharing our common experiences, strengths and the hope we have found in our newfound lives. We feel it is important that we share our hope with others who are just arriving, for only we know the hopeless empty hole that the trauma leaves us with.
Like a person who has had a leg amputated, we are in shock while the rest of the world only faces the grief that is yet to come for us. In time we start to know that all children are our children and, as such, we are responsible to make sure that we tell the general public that the next person who comes through our doors in 40 seconds from now, is not one of them. We don’t want you in our club, please do not pay the price in your child’s blood that we paid to be here today.
We encourage people to seek out groups on social media sites that open their doors to parents and give them a safe place to share. Without this, especially during a time of global pandemic, where would anyone in any community turn that needed support. As such, we have acquired four months of top of the line technology to accomplish our mission.
I still, however, will deal with my grief on a daily basis. The general public want a nice, neat story of how I moved from one point in my life to the next. Complete with a storybook ending where I come to realize the error of my ways, my son stands as an eternal shrine to the man I wish to become and the credits roll as we fade to black.
That is not how the real world works. I opened a television station this week as well as started building our grief social media network. As we applied for loans, we started getting calls. One gentleman said he would have $20k in my bank by midnight. I thought, gee, that’s cool. I am still only 13 emotionally. At midnight when I logged in, my bank account was stolen and the $50.00 we had saved to build a corporate empire was lost.
Like a child I cried. I went to the bank and they fixed it like a good mommy and daddy but I was hurt. The next call I received from another gentleman with the same accent was met with explosions and anger. Now, four days later, I just got off the phone with a man who made me the same offer. In one minute I told him my story, that I loved him and that he really needed to find another job and go home to his family. He offered to paypal me $100.00 which, of course, I could not accept. So, I am learning to grow up and deal with my anger at the world.
Last night four people were in my television chat room, talking into the wee hours of the morning. A Green Beret, A Radio DJ and a guy who wanted to commit suicide. I am not a doctor, I am not a counselor, I am just a guy who’s kid killed himself. Yet, we all are supposed to meet up tonight and do it again. Maybe you will join us, at least you can think of us.
I see you and I love you. I need to be here and to share, I need to be who I am and I need to do this thing that you all taught me to do. That thing that in February of this year, you told me just to keep coming. Then you told me to be open. Then you told me to be strong in my own weakness. You said, reach out and help others. I am doing that now. I am afraid constantly, face rejection daily but somehow it all has a meaning that my life never had.
I will be thinking of each and every one of you this coming Holiday season and look forward to getting back into the routine of daily life.
My name is Bob, thank you for letting me share.