Title: The Next Step
Format: Open Speaker Talk
©2022 Bob Cristello
My name is Robert Anthony Cristello. On August 16th, 2017, my son Anthony took his own life at 35. The following four years of my life culminated in bringing me to the brink of insanity and hopelessness.
I got up in November of 2021 simply because my wife and my daughter needed me to return to the land of the living. I was losing the battle with shock, which kept me from grieving. I kept losing my grip on reality and realized that my child was dead all over again. Through the support of many offline and online communities, I was able to find a way to remain in the calmer waters of grief. I also discovered that grief was something I could step away from, even for just a few minutes at the start. Grief is a blessing, and shock is nothing but an endless nightmare.
I began sharing my experiences with the world. In time, those experiences turned to strength. After a time, that strength turned to hope, and I started to share that hope with others. In that spirit, I am writing today about the next step in my life and the lives of my family.
Our website, Coping With Suicide, has now been transformed into the first grief-centric social media platform on the world wide web. The website will remain as a repository for my writings. That being said, I have chosen to give the website freely to the world. I felt that was only right since the world somehow gave all of this technology to me when I became willing to make a difference.
Our website will never charge for membership. It is merely a community based on social media platforms where you can create whatever type of environment you wish. Members will have the ability to create groups, forums, timelines, blog posts, pages, memorials, and any function that a 21st Century social media platform would contain.
We did publish our book in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover format. Though I honestly know the work is amateurish at best, I was pleased with the outcome. I had no idea what would happen when I decided to become an advocate for parents who had lost a child to suicide back in October of last year. I said that publicly, but I also said that I had come to believe that more would be revealed.
I entered into a self-imposed silence six weeks ago. I have appreciated the phone calls, emails, and messages I have received. I am successfully finishing up a significant project with a Fortune 50 client, a client I attribute receiving directly from the love, prayers, and support of the people on this timeline. That silence is about to end, and I will be actively publishing daily in various mediums, beginning in mid-April of this year.
This experience truly humbles me. The humbling factor is how many people care about me. It is even more humbling to know that more people out there care about this issue and need a place to meet, talk, share, and heal away from the prying eyes of the world and the constant barrage of advertising.
I am still in a great deal of emotional pain. There are many people in pain, just like me. Worse, there are those without hope, which makes their pain seem so much less bearable. I have chosen to do something. I did not know what that looked like five months ago. Now, I am taking the next step and moving into a new phase of my life. One free of any tyranny of shame that I created. A life filled with a loving family, caring friends, and the quiet strong voice of God to guide my steps.
My name is Bob; thank you for letting me share today.