What hurts the most is that I didn’t know Alex. I never got the pleasure of knowing the good in his life. I didn’t know the hurt he carried either. I didn’t know anything about him, really. The only memories I have of him are those of that fateful day.

When it comes to death, the only thing that makes it easier is that it’s part of life. It’s inevitable. We know it’s coming. We expect it. But when it comes too soon, its hard to feel the comfort of what’s known.

Death comes with memories and beauty and love…


One year later and I don’t even recognize myself. That person, that version of me feels so far away.

I’m just a shell of the man that I was back then. And yet, I am so so so much more than that too. In fact, some days, I feel like the man I was a year ago was nothing but a shell of a man. With no insides, no depth, no magnitude, no purpose or power.

Today, I feel like Joel. Some days that’s a good version of myself, others it’s a version of myself that I don’t like. …


No matter how much education, training, or preparation you receive, you can never fully be ready to handle responding to a suicide. You can never fully prepare to administer first aid. You can never be ready to see a lifeless body, on the ground, with a bullet hole in it’s chest and blood all over. It doesn’t matter, you simply can’t prepare for a tragedy of this magnitude.

I have known from that moment, that I wasn’t ready. I knew from the minute I answered my phone, heard Kristin’s shaky voice, and started sprinting across campus, that I wasn’t prepared…


If I could take your place,

I would.

Anyway I know how.

Anyway I could.

I’d carry the burden

Of your pain and demons.

Because I know the pain of carrying the weight

Of your loss.

We can’t possibly call this even.

If I could take your place,

I would.

To know your pain.

I’d claim it as my own,

Carry it with me,

The way you do.

Only I’ll never truly know what it’s like.

If I could take your place,

I would.

So you didn’t have to know the pain you felt.

So I didn’t have to understand…


It’s not so easy to hold onto hope these days, as I no longer know what hope looks or feels like. Similar to faith, I’m not sure that I have much hope anymore. I’m not sure I know how to.

They say that healing gets easier with time. They say that time heals wounds. They say to have faith and to have hope and that things will get better. Well, they may get better, but they certainly don’t get easier and no amount of time seems to change that.

We’re creeping up on a year since I responded to Alex’s…


I have to be honest about something. I know that y’all are trying to be protective and sensitive, and I love that, thank you, but not talking about my mental health is actually killing me.

We all know about last Monday and I don’t need a lecture about how stupid it was, but I also don’t need a lack of acknowledgement. You should’ve asked if I was ok. I wanted you to say that it was obvious that I was upset about something. I need you to name the hurt that you’re feeling seeing me unwell. …


I’ve been thinking about my relationship with religion and faith a lot lately, and tonight, as I stare out at the sunset and feel the energies of the new moon in Aries, I feel a strong sensation of spirituality reaching out to grab my hand.

Rather than pull away as I usually do, I’m allowing this moment to take over me and settle. I feel myself reflecting on God and my childhood days growing up in the church. I am thinking about all the times that people have told me they’ll pray for me, as a long-time friend said to…


It happened again. Another night like the one night stand. Only this time, I got drunk, drove into a pasture, puked all over myself, and woke up god knows how much later.

I didn’t get a job that I really wanted. I was so excited about the role, the opportunity to move back to the U.P. and work at my alma mater, and buying a house. When the call came, I sank.

I felt like I was getting that same horrid phone call all over again. Another loss, this time a job I didn’t even have, but wanted so desperately.


My depression crawls into bed with me every night. My depression is the big spoon in our relationship and it wraps around me and settles in.

My depression stays with me through the night and weeps with me as I listen to a podcast or sweet melodies, hoping that I will find rest. My depression keeps me from said rest. Sleepless nights are all too familiar.

My depression depletes me. It suppresses my appetite, slows down my energy, and begs for bad medicine. My depression fills my head with dark thoughts and my body with sadness.

My anxiety wakes me…


Birthdays. Have you ever really given this much thought? Why do we celebrate birth as such an accomplishment? Like it took so much effort, so much work to make it to the next year. It’s not like graduating with a masters degree. It’s not like earning an Eagle Scout award. It’s not like running a marathon. So why does this one day a year carry the weight of all of these things combined? It’s fucked up, right?!

I’m battling with this thought. While also questioning how I survived this year, and feeling grateful to still be alive. But, I am…

Joel Kaskinen

Communicator. Educator. Empath. Survivor. Writer.

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