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August 22, 2013

Family is raising money for 'Colin's Smile'

Loss of son has brought grief and inspiration to couple

It has been only eight months since they lost their son to a suicide, but the Heckmann family has been healing.

“You don’t get over it,” said Lisa Heckmann.

“No, you never do,” Lisa’s husband, Dirk Heckmann, said.

“You learn to live with it,” they both say, nearly simultaneously. 

Colin, a 17-year-old junior at Richfield Springs, took his own life on New Year’s Eve 2012. Colin was popular, played sports, had a lot of friends of different ages.

“I’m not sure if the signs were there with him,” Dirk said. “That’s the thing. But if we can help someone where the signs are there, then that is doing something important.”

Suicide — It is the word, most people will not say to them. The word they feel the schools went quiet toward them after hearing. The word that causes a discussion in newspaper offices about how and how often to use the word. Although it is uncomfortable to talk about, it is worse not talking about it, the Heckmanns say, and they have learned to say it.

“It is something you can see they don’t want to talk about,” Dirk said. “But everything we have gone through in counseling is that you should talk about it.”

They are doing something about it too, promoting a charity and pushing for a speaker to visit the area. Both the speaker and the charity have touched them, giving a purpose and bond to a long difficult year of grieving.

The Heckmann house in Exeter has become a refuge for Colin’s friends and neighborhood kids. Far from shy about the subject, his parents have grown used to ministering to the grief from others who loved Colin. 

“It’s bittersweet, for sure,” Lisa said. “It is my pain to hear it, but I know I am doing something to help them. If we can help others, that makes a difference for us.”

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