Remembering Rhonda

I started following Rhonda Elkins’ blog around this time last year, and was profoundly moved by her tragic story. It had only been months since she, a registered nurse, lost her 23-year-old daughter Kaitlyn to suicide, and writing about it in her blog, My Bright Shining Star, was her way of dealing with the devastation she was experiencing.

As tough as it must have been for her, Rhonda’s heart-wrenching posts turned into a new project: a book about her daughter to help raise awareness of the rampant depression and high number of medical students who take their own lives. Like her blog, it also proved to be a source of comfort for others who were going through the pain and anguish of losing a child to suicide.

With her permission, I reblogged this post back in February to help get her message out there, that even those closest to us often keep their depression hidden.

Earlier this week, I was shocked and saddened to learn Rhonda had followed Kaitlyn last Friday, leaving her husband and older daughter to pick up the shattered pieces of what remained of their family.

Rhonda had blogged recently about the good reviews her book was getting, as well as her decision to return to her nursing profession part-time (she hadn’t worked since Kaitlyn died in April of 2013).

I, like many others, had believed she had gotten through the worst of it, and was ready to go on with her life.

We were so wrong.

Your life had a purpose, Rhonda. You shared your heart and soul with your readers, painfully, yet with great eloquence. I’m so sorry you were suffering and unable to get past your grief and depression. I’m sorry we couldn’t help you more. And I pray you have finally found peace, and are reunited with your beautiful daughter Kaitlyn.

I will never forget either of you.

Links for Rhonda:


48 thoughts on “Remembering Rhonda

  1. Jennifer,
    Thank you for sharing this story. It is so sad yet highlights how painful depression can be. I feel so much for Rhonda and her family. She is a hero in my eyes. Since my mother struggled with this as well asysrlf. My first thanksgiving without her was tough. I am sure her family will be feeling the same .ps. Is her book
    Available online? Thanks. Daina


  2. What a tragedy–for both the surviving family and for Rhonda and her daughter–their lives cut short by suicide. My heart goes out to them. Like you, I hope that more people seek help when they feel trapped by depression. Thanks for spreading the word. -Patti


  3. Reblogged this on Uncle Spike's Adventures and commented:
    I just wanted to share another post about Rhonda, from Jennifer, one of our Spikey family…. alas I was away when the post came out, and I missed it. I don’t know if that is a blessing that I didn’t find out while we were away or not. Like everyone, so shocked by this desparetely sad news….


  4. Hello, Jennifer. I am new to your blog having just seen you over at Earthrider Judy’s. This post just flattened me. I didn’t know Rhonda or read her blog, but the reactions of you and others tell me that the world has lost a gentle spirit. So very, very sad.


  5. My condolences to you, Rhonda’s family and friends, I’ve had two friends and an acquaintance commit suicide. You never know the struggles that some go thru and how they are handling life’s troubles. It was painful to go thru, but far more devastating for those closest to them. Hopefully, your post will prompt some to get the help they need before taking steps they can’t undo.


  6. I wish things had worked out differently : Rhonda and I have much in common. I’m a medical student who killed himself. One difference of course: my plan although proven effective (I was a medical student!), “failed.” Instead of death I achieved a seizure (I surmise) & 36 hours of lost time. Life was over, and yet 20 years later all is well. Never did finish medical school, which saved me an awful lot – Years! – of hazing framed as training. I’ve even gotten nearly comfortable thinking of it. We need more connection, more communication and community, less toxic independence. It would help.


    1. Wow. I really had no idea, until I started following Rhonda’s blog, that such a high number of medical students suffered so. I’m glad you lived through the suicide attempt and are here now to tell about it. Thank you for sharing your story. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Imagine little or no sleep every third or fourth day, for years, while lives depend on your thinking clearly. It makes depression and suicide rather easier to imagine, doesn’t it? Thanks for your feedback.


  7. I met Rhonda online and have been following her, communicating with her about Kaitlyn, about writing her book, about our both being nurses, and now this. If anyone reading this is in touch with her family please tell them one of her cyber friends, Paulette, is holding them all in her heart that they may find the comfort they need to help them through. I’m so sad for Rhonda’s loss of her daughter and that she never recovered from her depression over it. RIP my friend.


  8. Thank you, dear Jennifer, for letting us know. I have visited her blog a few times. This is so very sad. Both the mother and daughter seemed like lovely and gentle women. They did not deserve to suffer so much. May God grant the loved ones left behind with healing comfort and peace. I’ve lost two relatives to suicide, and it’s so painful during that first year. Hugs.

    Healing blessings to all ~ Wendy ❀


  9. That is the most tragic and heart-breaking story I have heard in a long time. Goodness. Keeping their family in my thoughts and prayers. Hoping others who suffer depression seek and find the help they need.


  10. Oh my. I read Rhonda’s blog quite a bit and very recently too. I am in shock. I’m shaken up. I didn’t even know this woman but how I felt for her, so much because what she had been through in losing her daughter.

    I’m so very sad.

    Please everyone, reach out for help. There is help out there. There are solutions to our problems and not just an option of ending our lives.

    All the best.


  11. So very sorry to read this, Jennifer. One of my oldest and dearest friends lost her son to suicide when he was a sophomore in high school; this truly hits home with me. Love to you.


  12. I only began blogging a month ago, so I didn’t know Rhonda. But this is terribly heartbreaking. My heart goes out to you, to all who knew her through her blog and her family and friends. God bless you all.


  13. Jennifer I followed Rhonda too and thought she was on the mend too. This is so sad, I remember when my brother took his life the professionals said we had to keep watch on all family members as it common that others follow. Unable to deal with the loss. I feel for the daughter and family she left behind. I hope she is at peace.


  14. What?! I had not heard this. This is terrible news. She was such an inspiration to me and so many others. Her daughter’s story and her own could have been used to touch so many lives. I do pray that her book reaches across the world and makes the impact that she wanted it to. This is a sad day indeed. Praying for her family.


  15. This post has left me at a loss for words. I, too, know where depression can lead. I am grateful today that my two attempts at suicide didnt work as I am now through the depression (for now at least). But I wanted deaperately to die all those years ago. I could see no other way; there was no other way. But after many months in psychiatric hospital I was brought back into a life I now love. My thoughts go to Rhonda and Kaitlyn and their family who are left bereft.


    1. I am so grateful you asked for and got the help you needed. You are proof there is hope, even though it may seem there is none. Rhonda suffered from depression at different times in her life, before she lost Kaitlyn, so it was most likely genetic.

      Hugs to you, and thank you for sharing your story. x


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