A Letter to Our Late Son, Eli Nathan Cooper


August 4, 1979 – July 2, 2010

Dearest Eli,

It has been ten years since you died from suicide. Ten years since your pain ended and ours took on new, unimagined depth. Ten years since we became suicide loss survivors on a nightmarish journey to find our way through this mire of complex grief. The world was out of focus; we struggled to make sense of something that was inexplicable.

We miss your joyful nature, admirable intellect, and quick wit. We particularly miss your beautiful smile and how you cared so deeply for others and the world. We miss the sound of your robust laughter and the fun times you used to share with your brother, friends and us.

Ten years ago, you wrote to us saying that you could not go on any longer, and that you hoped one day we could accept your decision. We know you tried so hard to find a way to fight the debilitation of your illness; we have come to understand that you believed your pain and darkness was insurmountable. Thus, through this decade we have come to accept your decision.

On our journey of healing towards this acceptance, we learned to alchemize our grief, to turn tragedy into transformation and loss into legacy. Sometimes we are able to offer support and guidance to other parents who have lost a child to suicide. Well aware that you had nowhere to turn for long term recovery-based therapy, we are also dedicated to establishing a rural residential treatment centre in Ontario for young adults who struggle with serious mental illness. It will be called “Eli’s Place”!  We are surrounded by amazing people who believe in his as your legacy; we are strengthened by the knowledge that we will improve and save the lives of other young adults.

You would be forty now; rarely does a day go by that we don’t think of you. We can now smile as we often recall sweet, happy memories. We also still shed tears as we remember, for there is no time limit on grief. Eli, we want you to know that our love and memory are eternal.

With much love,
Mom and Dad

Eli’s Place Residential Treatment Centre will offer a range of recovery-based programs for adults 18 – 35 years of age who have a serious mental illness, and who may also be struggling through issues of substance abuse.

The first of its kind in Canada, Eli’s Place will provide treatment within a therapeutic rural environment. There, participants will develop the skills to recover from illness, as they gain valuable life and work skills to help ensure a successful transition back to the community. As part of its multi-phase approach, Eli’s Place will also provide ongoing in-community support as needed.


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