Breaking the Stigma: Rob Part 3


Rob, Nicki Kirlin, Jenna Fortinski

Jenna Fortinski  00:01

This is Episode Three with Rob as part of his journey. So as a word of caution for this episode again, we continue the conversation about suicide. So if that doesn’t fit for your life right now, or you’re uncomfortable with this topic, please stop this episode now and refer to our show notes where you can find some resources for support. This is part three. Welcome back, Rob. So if you can catch us up to where we left off on last episode, please.

Rob  00:37

Sure, yeah, I said before we, I was with my boys on our annual waterpark road trip, and we just crossed into Washington State to go stay with some some dear friends down there. But that is unfortunately when I got a call that my estranged wife Jen had committed suicide. And just yeah, was as you can imagine a whirlwind of emotion trying to absorb and understand and take in that information and knowledge and just how to how to try and process it.

Jenna Fortinski  01:19

Right. So at that time, were you informed of any details regarding the suicide and and what had happened?

Rob  01:27

I had heard from my eldest stepdaughters father that, that he knew that she committed or sorry, completed suicide. But I later as I was driving from Costco, as I said, where I found out to my friend’s place that the the RCMP who had been called in to do the welfare check, he contacted me directly, and informed me that she had committed suicide by hanging. So the same as her mother.

Jenna Fortinski  02:02

Oh, my goodness.

Rob  02:04

Yeah, it was really shocking. Especially as I’d said in the prior episode, how, when Jen, I think was the prior or, the first one where Jen had said that, when she found out how her mother committed suicide, that there’s no way that she could ever do that to her family, and that she could never do such a thing that struck me is just bizarre and surreal that she would do it the exact same way. To that end, if you fast forward for a little minute here. When I finally got back home, I was able to see my therapist and talk about this. I have relayed to my therapist how perplexed I was that she would do it the exact same way. Like it was just so bewildering to me. And her comment to me was just while her mother had shown her a way that worked, and if Jen was in such a bad place that her mum showed her that there was one way that you could effectively complete suicide. Wow. Which it made sense. Theoretically, what she was saying, but I still just couldn’t wrap my head around it, given that there was four little children who were left behind as a result.

Jenna Fortinski  03:26

No kidding.

Nicki Kirlin  03:29

So speaking of the children, you had just gotten this news about Jen, how did you go about telling your little dudes about what had happened?

Rob  03:42

As you can imagine, it was I don’t even know how to describe it. It was just a surreal moment. I use that word a lot in these podcasts. But there’s really no better way to say it. I kept up appearances with our family friends, like I said, in my son’s and then that night, I just couldn’t sleep. I was just so emotionally wrecked, trying to wrap my head around this whole thing and took to Google. And but with the, the sole purpose of trying to understand how do you tell your children this? Yeah, right. How do you say this? What do you say? What do you not say? Right? The one thing that was really important that I really want to highlight for everybody was that when Jen’s mom committed suicide, she told her daughters that she died in her sleep. So she lied about it. Right. The unfortunate thing was, there was a night where are my eldest stepdaughter had overheard us talking about it. And she found out that way that her grandmother had committed suicide. She didn’t know how But I understood that it wasn’t from committing suicide or completing suicide. Sorry, but from our sorry, from dying under sleep, it was from completing suicide. So the one thing that I found on the amazing therapeutic web of Google was that you don’t lie. Yes, yeah, you don’t necessarily. And I would definitely not recommend, you know, we don’t go into the gory details of everything. But you don’t lie about it. So with that I kept from my son’s the information that their mother had completed suicide until we got home. The biggest reason being that I knew that I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to deal with that by myself. Right. And that I would need the support of my mom. And the boys godparents who are amazing. And I called them ahead of time to make sure that they were able to be there on the Sunday after we got back to support me in in telling, and telling my son’s that their mother


died. Wow. Yeah.

Nicki Kirlin  06:17

So how did you how did you break the news to them? What did you how did you frame it for them?



Rob  06:29

there’s so much talk of cancer in this day and age, and has been for years that it’s a it’s a known enough thing. And my sons were aware of it enough that I framed it like a cancer. And what I told them was that their mother was very sick in her brain. And like cancer, if you don’t try to fix it, and try and get help, and try and do the the steps you need to do to get it make it better that it will kill you. And I told them that their mom did not take any steps or make any effort to get any help or medicine, if you will for her brain. And that her brain told her that she shouldn’t live anymore. Absolutely the hardest day of my life. My youngest son didn’t understand he was four.



Rob  07:34

shouldn’t say that he understood but didn’t comprehend i think is probably the better way to say it. Yeah, yeah, my oldest son. The problem was that I was trying so hard to stay composed. Before I told them, and I had moments of just starting to like hyperventilate cry before I told them, just knowing how hard this would be, and how much it would hurt them. Because you’d never want to hurt your kids, of course. And, but when I started to try and tell them, I just exploded. And my eldest son just looked at me with very pleading eyes and scared eyes, because he’d never seen me so upset before, excuse me, and knew that something was really wrong. But I eventually got it out. And he was very upset. And I just sat beside him. And they both just hugged me as tight as they could. My eldest was crying his brains out. And my youngest was just, I think he was there more to support me than him. No, but it was, yeah, by far and away the worst day of my life. But I wanted to be honest, I didn’t want to make the mistake that we had made with Cory. And I wanted them to understand that she was sick. And she truly was, and that it was her albeit incorrect decision to not get help, and try and get better.

Jenna Fortinski  09:23

I cannot even begin to imagine how to know that conversation was too thin. And for those poor little pumpkins to hear that news.

Rob  09:33

You never want to hurt your kids, right?

Jenna Fortinski  09:34

Oh, no, that’s right. Yeah. But you know, like you did the right thing, you you you you’re truthful and you share the right information for them at an age appropriate levels that they could understand what had happened and they you know, yeah, it was because she was sick. And that is that is the truth, right. So now you were left with you know, I’m assuming playing a part in the funeral and, and being a part of that process. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Rob  10:07

Yeah, for sure. I mean, the problem was that the my two stepdaughters fathers lived out of town. And so I took to looking after the funeral preparations. I’m very fortunate that one of my dear friends is you know, a key owner of funeral home in Calgary, and he was very amazing. And his whole family was amazing in helping and supporting me through this and holding my hand. Honestly, quite literally in through this whole process, because never been through before. Really. And yeah, it’s a it was hard. I The unfortunate thing, I guess, fortunate unfortunate is that law dictates that somebody needs to identify that the funeral home has the correct person in their care. And because I lived there, I had to go and identify John’s body to make sure that they had the correct individual in their care. And that was extremely difficult I, other than pictures and stuff, I’ve never seen a dead person before. And to see Jen lying there was Yeah, I’ll use my word against surreal, I guess it just, it was, it dropped me to my knees. I started crying. And I just kept saying to her, you know, we could have worked this out, we could have figured stuff out. Not meeting our relationship, just meaning that it didn’t, should have had to get to that.

Jenna Fortinski  11:55


Rob  11:57

So anyway, got through that tough experience. And then there was the funeral itself. And that was very hard. Headed See, seen my stepdaughters in a while and I remember everybody came to my house. And we all went in a giant Mercedes limo bus thing down to the funeral for my home. And it was very hard to see my stepdaughters. We, as soon as we locked eyes, we just collapsed. And okay. This is hard to comfort them through that. How do you? Yeah. So it was a hard day. And I just, I had the the lady that presided over the funeral, read what I had to wrote to say, because there was no way I had the ability to do anything other than sit there and try and stay somewhat upright for my sons. Yeah. And it was interesting, in that she just told me to focus on what I wanted to say and what my message would be to Jen and I gave me a lot of time and some evenings to reflect on what I would say. And very hard to compose the words that I did. Because despite all the anger, and resentment that I had towards her for everything that she had done, and destroying our family with the affair and breaking our family apart, I was left with the fact that I still loved her and she gave me my two amazing little dudes and without her when have them in there, my everything. And so that was the the backbone of the message that I sent to her at the funeral was just that thank you for letting me understand a different kind of love and a love that involves creating human beings and to amazing little human beings and having my other two stepdaughters in my life and giving me that those life experiences. Yeah. It was. It was a very hard day. My youngest son. I don’t know that he fully understood. He knew that his mom had passed but he just saw everybody around him very upset. So he was he was teary just because I think everybody else was especially because he looked up at me and just saw tears going down my face and my eldest son though he was having a very hard time with it and just clamped on me very tightly as we went through the ceremony, celebration of life. And I remember distinctly after, when I was thanking people for coming, that there was a slideshow that we had up of all these pictures of her. And he was sitting by himself.


Just watching it

Rob  15:23

remembering those moments, because there’s a number of pictures of him with her. So it gave him a chance to kind of, I guess, reflect on that and see it. But anyway, so there’s a number of people that came out to support me and our family, and which was great. It was nice, a nice send off for Jen that way. And one person in particular who made it was a dear childhood friend of hers that Jen had, unfortunately, ostracized A number of years ago. And she had messaged me on facebook messenger or whatever, just saying that she and her sister were coming and hope that we could connect because we literally hadn’t spoken in probably 10 years. That was great. It was great to see her. And naturally, there’s lots of hugs and everything at the, at the ceremony. And yeah, so after that. She and her sister had to fly back to BC, but their flight wasn’t for several hours. So I just suggested that they come back to the house and have dinner with us and be able to kind of see the boys and they never met But they, but there was a bomb that was dropped. That just changed everything. And we were talking and just reflecting on everything. And you know, because they her, her, Jen and her friend had a falling out many, many moons ago, back at the beginning of our relationship and just started kind of talking about that. And she just felt really bad. She’s like, I feel like I need to tell you something. But I don’t. I don’t know if now’s the right time. Or why didn’t I just asked her to carry on. And as it turned out that agenda had been kind of simmering the affair that she ultimately had with this guy back when we first started seeing each other.

Jenna Fortinski  17:37

Wow. Oh my gosh,

Rob  17:40

yeah, that was kind of my reaction. Maybe one more out of five. But the hard part was that it completely changed my emotion at the time from sadness, and were meant for a relationship that it failed and whatever, to just anger that I felt like I was living a lie. I lived a lie for seven years. It just it really hurt. I mean, I was glad I knew. Yeah, it’s just better to under know the truth than to be blinded with lies, but



Rob  18:22

But it was, excuse me as a very hard pill to swallow.

Jenna Fortinski  18:28

Such a big shift. Just, you know, prior in the day, you know, really grieving that relationship and really holding on to this thought that Yeah, like maybe things could have shifted for you guys. You had a chance to work it through. And then to find out, you know, as traumatizing information, yeah, that, you know, the relationship wasn’t what you thought it was.

Rob  18:53

Yeah, it was an epic roller coaster of emotion that day, for sure. Especially after that.


Okay, so

Nicki Kirlin  19:01

you’re working your way through processing what was happening with the loss of Jen? So who in the family then like, obviously, you know, you had your experiences of going to therapy and counseling? Did you give any thought to who might also in your family benefit from counseling after processing this event that happened with Jen and who did you Who did you think might might benefit from getting some help?

Rob  19:34

Well, the short answer is everybody. Right? I didn’t have any sort of say or control over my stepdaughters. But my son’s for sure. And my friend who runs a funeral home was amazing in not only suggesting and promoting, but recommending therapy for my sons in particular and he recommended To the children’s cottage, which is now the children’s grief center, who focus on therapy for children who have experienced loss. And so I immediately contacted them. And I got both my son’s in to see them. And they were nothing short of amazing that I couldn’t recommend them any more highly than I am now like, they’re just they were incredibly considerate. Very, very skilled in talking with and dealing with and getting through to children. It was, it was excellent.

Jenna Fortinski  20:42

Oh, that’s fantastic. You’re such a good resource here in Calgary, for our community, for those that are grieving, and give them nothing but accolades for what they’re doing for our community. So how did the counseling go for the kids?

Rob  21:01

It was a, just to be to be brief, it was polar opposites. My youngest, was very resistant. He was very defiant. He didn’t want to go. He didn’t like it. He would want me to go into the session with him, which was fine. But he would literally arms crossed closed body language. It was very hard. He just didn’t want to talk about anything. My eldest on the other hand, though, he was embracing it like a kid with candy. He welcomed it. He had an amazing therapist there. He actually went through a couple of therapists just because changes and stuff over time, but all of them were incredible. And he would ask me about what he was going next. And he was looking forward to it. And he would tell me that he’s like, I need to see my therapist. Wow. Yeah. So he really embraced it, which was amazing. Because he was the one on the exterior anyway, that was having the hardest time. Yeah. With it with the loss of his mom. So yeah, we went. The boys went once a week after a period of time, with my youngest, there was a point where the therapist is just like, I don’t want to in quotes, waste your money. She’s like, I he’s just not ready to open. So there’s no point in you coming back and it with him and bringing him here because he’s just not prepared to do this. Right now. So.

Jenna Fortinski  22:47

So was there a moment in time where he felt like, okay, now I think he’s ready.

Rob  22:58

Well, we’ll fast forward a year. Sorry, this is a very sorry. It’s hard to talk about, um, quite literally, literally a year later. We were on our annual waterpark road trip again. And as timelines and RNA would have it, we were at my dear friends home, where, who I saw immediately after I found out that Jen had committed or completed suicide, and I contacted them ahead of time to ask them if it’d be okay. If we did a ceremony because they live on an island off the coast of Washington, and they literally own property right to the water’s edge. And they replied saying they’d be more than honored to be a part of that. And for context, when at Jens funeral we had her cremated and we had four little pods made up with some of her ashes in them that were the water disposable soluble type that would dissolve in the water if you want to Jen’s thing was that she loved the water and wanted to be put to rest there and then her main ashes were in a main bigger water soluble urn. So we went out there and I took my sons and my friends came with us, thank goodness. Because I needed that support. I was dreading honestly, the ceremony because emotionally was very tough. And we went down with the pods to the water’s edge is a beautiful, beautiful sunset on the in the sound there and just said some words to my sons and just saying that this is what their mum wanted and that As you always wonder ashes to be sit, spread and water in the ocean.



Rob  25:10

that they needed to throw their pods into the water. My oldest was upset, but keen to honor her wishes. And my youngest just was very hesitant and very quiet, which is weird. For reference, he hadn’t expressed any emotion at all, he hadn’t cried about her, he hadn’t talked about her, really, other than just matter of factly saying that she had passed away. Whereas my eldest son had been very emotional and had many crying moments about his mom’s passing up over this period of this year. And anyway, my youngest, eventually I was with him, and he threw her pod into the ocean. And then he just completely collapsed, and sat on my lap crying hard. For a good five minutes. Like hyperventilating, crying, he was so upset. And it just completely shattered me because I’d never seen him that upset in my life. And it was a bittersweet moment, just because he had never shown any emotion up until this point about his mom’s passing, which was hard for me and worrying, that he was internalizing his feelings, which is my biggest fear for any of my kids. Not getting their feelings out, which I talked about a lot. So that was, it was a relief as a parent, to see him have this massive release about his mom. But still, it’s hard to see your kids so upset.

Nicki Kirlin  27:06

I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking and emotional that that would have been. For all of you. At that time.

Rob  27:17

It was very hard. And my my friends are older than me and my friend’s wife, she is the proverbial grandmother. And it was really sweet that she just he walked with her and held her hand and just basically sat in her lap the whole night. And just looking reading stories, and then ultimately, we went like, curled up my two boys in bed. And yeah, it was. It was a very hard day. But a necessary day, they needed that. That closure. Absolutely. And, and it was honestly a relief to see my little guy have that exhale of emotion that I think he had been harboring inside for so long. Yeah.

Nicki Kirlin  28:10

And it’s so wonderful that he had a safe space where he could do that with having the people that he loves the most around him to help him process those emotions. Right?

Rob  28:25

Absolutely. They were. It was, it was honestly, in retrospect, it was perfect. Yeah, it couldn’t have been more perfect setting. Jen would have loved it. And I’m just so thankful for my friends that were that were willing and keen to be a part of that process.


So fast forward a few years then. How are your little dudes doing today?

Rob  29:03

My little guy is doing well. He He’s in school now full time and doing great. He makes friends really well. He talks openly about his feelings. So far anyway. He doesn’t really talk about his mom much at all. I don’t know if that’s a blessing just because of how how young he was at the time. But that may change of course, as he gets older. My eldest though, he, he was going still going through therapy after we got back and was getting a lot of good tools and, and skills and was doing okay, and he started school. And then yeah, things kind of took a turn for the worst. There was a Particular kid at his school. I’ll take us back a second is very open about talking about his the loss of his mom. I think he got that from the fact that I was very open and talking about what happened with him that he felt comfortable saying that his mother had passed away. Unfortunately, there was a kid in his class who was a bit malicious. And basically was telling that his mum wasn’t really dead. Also saying to kids on the playground that his mom had been murdered, and all sorts of incredibly awful things. Unfortunately, I didn’t, he didn’t say anything to me about this for a period of time because he was focused on trying to be strong and be independent, not relying on his dad. And the problem that I started to get though, as I was getting calls from the school that was acting out, and he was throwing things in the classroom, he was slamming doors, leaving the classroom without permission, very untoward behavior for him. Anyway, it came, he eventually told me what was going on. And yeah, so then I had to engage the principal in his teacher and just say that this needed to stop. And the hard part was that these words from this kid just completely derailed all of his therapy, he has nightmares came back with a vengeance, he was sick to his stomach to the point of vomiting that I was going to abandon him or leave and never come back, that somebody was going to happen to me, he would wake up in the middle of night trying to find me. And if for some reason I was either not in my room because I was watching a show or is in the bathroom, he would get so anxious that he would curl himself up on the stair landing, crying, hysterically want screaming my name, wondering where I was, oh, my goodness, or there’s a number of times that he slept, walked to the garage to make sure that the car was there.


Oh my god.

Rob  32:30

So it it, it really this kid’s words and actions really, really, really did a number on him. And we had to get him back into the children’s cottage initially, weakly immediately. And then ultimately, we had to do a different kind of therapy at a different institution for the coping with the bullying aspect, right?

Jenna Fortinski  32:56

Yeah, it’s so interesting that, you know, like, you can do a bunch of work, but you know, at the end of the day, we are still all human beings, right. And words truly do have an impact and, you know, for for us as parents or guardians or caregivers, you know, to really educated and take time on, you know, telling our kids that, you know, words have an impact and yeah, and treat each other with kindness and respect and, and, you know, to just really, you know, you never know what somebody is going through, and you really operate with that as the forefront in your thought. And yeah, you know, unfortunately for your son, he, he’s ever the repercussions of bullying and, you know, unfortunately, it is happening more often than not, I think, you know, as a collective hopefully we can all make an effort to educate our kids if we are parents or caregivers. Yeah. To truly just lead with kindness and and to never know what somebody’s story is or, or how your words might impact someone else. Right. So for yourself, why did you do for your counseling? Are you still going? Are you at

Rob  34:08

Absolutely. After hardening after I was still seeing my therapist up until the point of this bowling incident, and then after that happened, my therapy also increased in frequency. Because I this was a whole other new skill set that I needed tools for because it was one thing dealing with loss, but now with bowling, which is something was I mean, it wasn’t completely foreign to me, as I endured some of that with my eldest stepdaughter being bullied a bit but not like this. And so between not having the tools to try and help my son, but also to help myself And skills for being so exhausted because he would come and wake me up in the middle of the night frequently terrified. Yeah. So yeah, I was, I was back in very full throes with my therapist seeing her very frequently.

Nicki Kirlin  35:22

And so where are you at now? emotionally and psychologically.

Rob  35:29

They talk about what is the seven stages of grief or something, I don’t know how many stages there’s been through all those. And but for me, and everybody’s different. I haven’t gone through and completed them I The hard part is that I still get these moments of anger and bitterness towards Jen, honestly, very much out of the blue. And we’re, I just am so mad, and just, yeah, enraged that she did what she did to our family to our kids, not only in terms of killing our marriage, but also in her suicide. And I really struggled with that. Because I’m sure anybody who is listening that has gone through anything like this, in terms of a bitter divorce, or breakup, or whatever, that if your armchair psychologist, friends or whatever he would say, until you let it go, you’re not going to get any better. And I mentioned this to my therapist, actually, not that long ago, just saying that, asking her like, does this mean that I’m stuck? Like, am I? Am I spinning my wheels? Am I in this perpetual, kind of in quotes, hell, and we’ll never get better. And her advice shocked me but made a lot of sense. And she just said that, you know, you went through a lot of hardship. And to not honor that is not being honest. And that you should absolutely acknowledge the fact that you were in quotes screwed over, that you were hard done by that you were wronged. Because you were and that it is who you are today, and it is a reminder to yourself to look after yourself and to protect yourself and, and take care of yourself. And so she said, It’s not bad. To feel anger and resentment towards somebody who has done something so awful to you. It’s, you need to honor the fact that you feel that emotion and honor that emotion and respect it and that you don’t ignore it. And honestly, that is helped me tenfold. Yeah, because that was one key thing and my journey that I’ve been on, that I’ve really struggled with, because of that. philosophy that until you forgive and forget that you’re not going to move on. And I would 1,000% disagree with that. Yeah, for me. Yes. Yeah. Not saying it’s for everybody.

Jenna Fortinski  38:31

Yeah. And even like what you said about your boys in the beginning is that your one of your deepest fears is a bit of repression of feelings, and hobby, we’ll talk about view. So essentially, what your therapist told you is a thing in a different way. Yeah, you have to really honor what you’re feeling, and to be able to talk about it and to not feel like you should be at a certain place emotionally, you know, at a certain time, because that’s what society asks of you, or that’s the question that we put on ourselves as human beings, that, you know, the most important thing is to really just, you know, focus on your own feelings and where you’re at in your own process in your own journey. And that’s what’s most important, and that’s what creates the healing that we all need. Right? Yeah. Yeah, it’s

Rob  39:18

a feeling that there is a stigma that it’s inappropriate, right. And it was, honestly, a very elevating and relieving moment, with her saying that that’s not the case. Yeah, for me. Yeah.

Jenna Fortinski  39:36

So speaking of stigma, why do you think there’s a stigma who’s getting mental health support?

Rob  39:50

There’s, I think, a couple of pieces to it. One would be our parents and grandparents. influences and philosophies that in quotes back in the day, like certainly when I was a kid, that if you had to go see a therapist, there was something truly incredibly wrong with you, like you were an axe murderer or you’re schizophrenic or whatever, like, there was something incredibly clinically wrong with you. I don’t think that that’s fully evaporated. I would argue that it’s better these days than when I was a kid. But there is that element to the, the problem, I think, is that when you go to say, a friend, or family member, or whatever, with whatever you are struggling with whatever it may be, there’s a fear of judgment. And there’s a fear of that it’s not that person, or those people may not be a safe place for you to relay your concerns, your fears, your issues, whatever they may be. The value that I definitely got from my therapist, for therapists over the years is that I could go there speak freely. And I could absolutely open up. That being said, there are a number of therapists out there, and not every one of them is going to be a good fit. You need to find someone that you gel with that is wired, the way that you’re wired is going to approach the way you want it to be approached, and I in between. Cory, my mother in law, committing suicide, and Jen committing suicide, I had a therapist when my main therapist was away on sick leave, who was absolutely awful. She was very opinionated, and introduced her own particular value system into our conversation, and it was very unproductive. So the thing is, though, that if I had stopped my therapy journey at that point, because of that bad experience, coping with what I had to go through with Jen suicide, and my son’s working through their own therapy and their struggles, I would have been at a loss. So the one word have occurred, or words of encouragement I would give anybody who’s listening is that if you happen to go and take the step of seeing a therapist, and they’re not a fit for you find someone else. There’s there are so many therapists out there, and I’m sure you’ll speak to how there’s different approaches that therapists will take. And you just have to find the right one, and there will be the right one.

Nicki Kirlin  43:02

Yeah, I think that’s really important. And I think, you know, we’ve chatted about that in previous podcast episodes where we’ve spoken to the importance of finding a good fit with a therapist, if you are seeking that help. And how important that relationship is, you’re in a space where you’re being very vulnerable. As you’ve mentioned, Robin, you are looking for a space that is judgment free, and you want to have that you want to feel like you have that connection with your with your therapist. So it’s so important to have that. So one thing that we wanted to ask you about is related to you know, having this conversation about suicide is obviously very challenging and complex, too, and thinking about stigma and sort of stigma associated with suicide. Do you think that there’s a stigma for those folks that are left behind after somebody has completed suicide? And we’re talking about sort of along the lines of Do you think that people judge and have a conception that maybe there’s more that could have been done in a situation where a person has completed suicide?

Rob  44:14

Yes, simple answer. Unless you’ve lived through it, or have by maybe a degree of removal lived through it. It it’s still uncertain. Sadly, it’s more common than it used to be, but it’s still very uncommon, and goodness. And I think people just don’t know. And even I can say this, I don’t know how you get there. How does life gets so bad? That that is your only alternative and in terms of people looking at me or talking to me about this, the questions often arises like, how did you not see it coming?

Nicki Kirlin  45:05


Rob  45:05

Were there any signs? They didn’t she talk about it sound more callous and mean? Like, what did you do? Did you do something to promote this to create this to necessitate this? Like? There’s? And it’s just because people don’t know, there’s a naivete there. There’s, which can also just just be an outright ignorance Yeah. That they just don’t get it. And I’ve lived through two of these. And I just don’t get it. All right. So just because you’ve had to endure, it, doesn’t mean you understand it. And I, as a person, can’t ever see myself being in a place that I could get to that point,



Rob  46:03

I understand how my stepmother, Cory, and how Jen could have seen that as their only option. But they, there was, there was an alternative. And they just didn’t go there. But to Sorry, I digress to get back to your original question. I would say, yes. And my son’s schools point, like that kid who is ignorant and making those comments, your mum’s not really dead. Like he can’t. As much as I have an immense amount of anger and hatred towards her child from what he’s done to my son. I respect the fact how he doesn’t get it. Yeah, that’s right. He obviously hasn’t had to endure this with a family member or friend, and just can’t wrap his head around it. And honestly, I don’t know that anybody can except for those who are in that incredibly negative headspace.

Jenna Fortinski  47:11

And I think that really speaks to you know, the resiliency of human beings, you know, Rob, given what you’ve gone through and what you’ve experienced, and, you know, yet you, you choose to continue to fight until, you know, wages battle, fight for your sons, and, you know, fight for your own mental health and your own stability, that, you know, like we are resilient as human beings. And, you know, you have gone through, you know, unfortunately to completed suicides, and you still there’s, there’s that knowingness, and that understanding, and rightfully so. But you’re as human beings, we are so resilient. The message really is, is that there is a way there is a way to figure things out, there is a solution, and it doesn’t matter, you know, how hard things are, how hard things may seem, but there is a solution, and we can choose to fight and we, you know, we just need to find the right. support system together. There’s always hope, excite Yeah, yeah. And, you know, so I just really want to highlight, you know, Rob your strength and your, your continued choice to keep waging this battle. And, you know, no matter how hard he gets, that you keep fighting, and you keep making that choice to fight. So I just really, really, really want to, you know, highlight how incredible you are, to continue to do that. And, you know, to continue being a role model for your children is to have the value of mental health and physical health and encouraging that in your home, you know, as a means of protection, but also as a means of, you know, this is this is what a good healthy life is, right?

Nicki Kirlin  49:01

Yeah, and we’ve talked about this sort of outside of recording for the podcast, but how incorporating the mental health piece, along with your physical health piece and making that a part of the picture, as you’re saying, Jenna, like, That’s fantastic, that you’ve been able to make that a part of your life that it is just as equally as important and it is a part of our general lifestyle. Yeah.

Rob  49:26

Yeah, I think that’s one. Thank you for your comments. It it’s been a hell of a journey, but it’s also been a help and epiphany to understand how understated mental health really is. Honestly, you see so much in the media about and all the advertising of eating well, working out, like you know, exercising all that stuff. And you just don’t see that with the mental piece but the mental piece is so critical because It’s your brain is it controls everything. And it’s grossly understated How? And I, through all this if there’s one thing I can say is I, I underestimated and I know greatly appreciate how incredibly important your mental health is and how important it is to make sure you keep up on that as well as your nutrition and your physical health. They’re also intimately intertwined. Yeah,



Jenna Fortinski  50:32

So, given everything you’ve gone through, I’m going to ask you for one official statement, you know, what would be lesson learned for you throughout all of this?

Rob  50:46

The lesson learned, I guess, would be the thing I learned about myself is that maybe I didn’t understand myself. And who I really was as a person. We all have our history and our skeletons, if you want to call it that, in things that we’ve gone through through our childhood. And, you know, as I shared with you, Jen and Cory definitely had their share of very hard ones. And like I said, prior to Corey committing suicide, I never had therapy. As I said, I was a very strong, no capable person, I could handle anything that life throughout me whatever. But I would argue, in my beautiful hindsight, that I didn’t know who I was, as a person. And I know, through this adversity, I definitely have a greater understanding of myself, but it’s only through going through this adversity, and especially through the therapy that’s helped me heal, or continue healing, that I understand that I’m a product of my upbringing and environment. And the reason I got into and quotes this situation is just a function of that. And there could be an argument, I would say, there’s a very strong argument to say that if I had been to therapy, prior to any of this adversity, that I would have had a great understanding of who I am as a person, and understanding of how, and what kind of relationships I would be drawn and inclined to enter into as a result.

Jenna Fortinski  52:49

So that piece of really understanding who we are, as individual people, our experiences that we’ve gone through, really impact our day to day decisions. Yeah,

Rob  53:04

absolutely. And I think the big thing I’d want to highlight is that you don’t need to see a therapist because something’s wrong, right? It’s good to just have somebody to talk to just to bounce things off, not unlike you would bounce things off a friend. And when they tell you, you have a conversation with them, you may have some epiphanies with them. And they highlight something you didn’t even think of, well, therapists are trained in exactly that. And their, their job and their skill set is to actually draw those epiphanies that you wouldn’t otherwise realize. And I think if I could do it all over again, I would have seen a therapist many years ago.



Jenna Fortinski  53:50

Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to record his episodes with us and to share your story and to really highlight to everyone listening, again, the resiliency of a human being, you know, after everything you’ve gone through you, you know, made that decision to share your story, and to educate our listeners and to spread the knowledge of the importance of of getting the support that you need. No matter how tough things get, there is a way out and there is a solution. And there is support out there to help you. So thank you, thank you so much for continuing to battle, this path that you’re on and to choose, you know, helping others. So thank you, and thank you for sharing with us your journey. We so appreciate it.

Nicki Kirlin  54:45

Yes, thank you, Rob.

Rob  54:46

My absolute pleasure.

Jenna Fortinski  54:48

So we’re gonna close with a quote that I wrote, which is a school comes from Prince. always cry for love and never cry for pain.