A personal campaign sponsored by Samuel Wyatt Berman Memorial FundSupport Me
Samuel Wyatt Berman died on April 5th 2017 at the age of 19.
If you're interested in Sam's strory read the letter below we wrote to him shortly after his death.
We have created this fundraising page to honor Sam's memory. We invite you to make a special, enduring gift to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Your donation would mean so much to us and the lives of people affected by mental illness.
Rosemarie & Don Berman, Lauren Deger
We know you wouldn't want us to write this letter; but since you're not here, you’ve lost your vote. Sucks for you ?? . We need to put all this in writing for our own peace of mind and to let the world know what a courageous, amazing person you are. Also we need to shine the light on our family’s struggles so that others may be encouraged to seek help in this greatest battle against the conniving, relentless diseases of addiction and mental illness. To us who fight this battle, there is no stigma; but the world needs to understand that when families struggle, there is no shame. The only shameful thing is that many are forced to suffer alone. People think they're normal, but what does that even mean? We all know there's no such thing. Throughout our lifetime, we all walk that line between rationality and madness; and it’s the most loving and gifted amongst us that, too often, lean just a bit too far over the edge and suffer more than they should
Well Buddy boy, we guess we all knew that this day could come. Throughout all your struggles, we were never angry at you until this week. In a dark moment, you dropped your guard. You had so much to live for; and your intellectual self knew that. But I guess your emotional self never saw it that way. When others looked at you, they saw a strong, confident, beautiful boy, who could light up any room, coasted almost effortlessly through high school, was Captain of the high school soccer team, was a great friend to others and lit the world with an unsurpassed laugh and smile. For you, though, that was never good enough. The perfection you expected of yourself led you to feel worthless and empty. We’re angry that you could not see how incredible you are. You always struggled to remove the pain at the heart of you. From one thing to another, you looked for an answer outside yourself. You felt so bad inside that you resorted to substances to take the pain away, truly believing that you had no other choice. We wish so much that we could have taken that pain upon ourselves to give you the chance at life you so deserved. But in learning to work on our own recovery, we knew that this was a battle that could only be won by you. Time and time again we had tried to carry you, but we had learned that this only made you feel less adequate.
Last year was rough. We almost lost you three times. It seemed that you were stuck in the mud and could not get free. From graduation forward, the devil grabbed you and pulled you down by the ankles. Out of love you pushed us to work on our own recovery. We learned that each day was a gift in and of itself, and the future was that day’s sunset, and we were grateful when the sun rose the following day with you still with us. We tried not to feel the darkness surround us, but you just continued to sink.
Then in December something happened. A light reignited within you and you started to climb out of the pit. With the help of your friends, Trevor, Genna, Chris, and others that I don’t remember at this moment, we began to see our boy again. It was not smooth sailing; but for the first time in a while, hope began to get the upper hand. Then three weeks ago in California it seemed like the flood gates opened and you found your footing. When you left Laguna Niguel, the program director told us that he could not recall anyone having such a big impact on the community in such a short time. Our boy was back, when we called on the phone, the joy was back in your voice For the first time in eight months, we thought it was safe for you to come home for a visit. We spent three amazing days with you. You were brilliant--the Sam we always knew--but more EVERYTHING---more wise, more patient, even more insightful than normal. You were hopeful and optimistic. We looked at each other, and hope possessed us. We helped you shop and get your things together to start a new life in New Haven with your community. It seemed like you finally envisioned a life for yourself that you really wanted. You were going to live on your own and get a job, support yourself take some courses over the summer, and think about going back to school in the fall. The first few days back were great, biking around New Haven applying for jobs, walking Miles, Scott’s dog with whom you fell in love. You seemed so happy. When you spoke, it was almost like singing.
I don’t know what happened. I know you always wanted to live. I’m guessing in a bad moment, you slipped, made a bad decision and the rest, well now we’re here… But Sam, thank you so much for the last month. We are so grateful that we had this time with you. It was such an amazing gift. Had this happened on your downward spiral, maybe we would have been better prepared. But in this way, we have the best of you, the real you, seared indelibly into our memory. Whatever God’s plan for you, we are so thankful that it included this time.
Judgement. It’s an intimidating word. Others may have judged you and us. But that's ok. When you are forced to climb the mountain every day, how can those who have only walked the garden path be expected to understand? While not living in your shoes, we had a good idea of the intensity of your struggles… everyday… whether you had a good yesterday or didn’t. That’s the insanity of this disease. You can never take your foot off the brake. We live in a judgment-free zone. We have to. We could never afford the distraction from our pitched battle against a relentless enemy. We know there are so many who are fighting this battle alone, afraid friends and neighbors will find out. We want to force this out in the open. If your illness was of another sort, the community would have gathered around us as they do now. But since it was addiction and mental illness, we kept it under wraps. Fortunately, we were able to find help, but it was almost by accident. The state of mental healthcare in this country is abysmal, and no one knew how to guide us. After years we were able to find the right support network, both for you and us. That’s another reason we wanted to write this letter. To tell all of those out there that are suffering, do not go it alone. Reach out, and get help. When you do find that help, you will find a community like no other. The caretakers, staff, other clients—all of them have the heart and capacity of giving from themselves to others within their community like no other. They will literally take you into their arms. If people judge you, understand that they just don’t know any better. We haven’t worked out a plan yet but somehow we need to make a difference in this fight. Maybe this letter is a start.
Sam, you fought tough. You had many disappointments, but always managed to pull yourself back up in the game again. That’s the competitor that you were. Somehow, though, this time it appears that the universe has another plan for you.
The main thing we want you to know is that even on the saddest days of our lives and considering all we’ve been through, if given the opportunity to go back in time and do it again, we’d do it again in a heartbeat, the ending notwithstanding. You are our sunshine and a light in this world that can never be extinguished. Our one comfort is that we truly believe you were lifted from this planet and freed at last of those demons that clawed at you and refused to give you the peace you so richly deserved. We’ll do our best to honor your memory, and we will think about you every day for rest of our lives and smile through our tears. This is a very sad day; however, the rest of the 19 years we’ve had with you were filled with the joy of being in your life. Have peace, son. We love you.
With Eternal love,
Mom and Dad