Kelli Melissa Reinhardt – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


I lost my middle sister, Carrie, who died by suicide on February 20th, 2017, and my son had his 2nd episode of seizures on the day of my sister’s celebration of life.

February 20th and 25th, 2017, are two days that will be etched into my mind for eternity…

I was sitting at my desk at work when my mom called. She never called me when she knew I was working. I knew something was wrong at that moment, but I let it go to voicemail because I was on a call with a customer. 

A visual voicemail popped up with her message… 

“Kelli, it’s mom. Call me back”. I could tell in the tone something was wrong, and I needed to call her back as soon as possible. I hurried up my call with the customer and called her back. 

She was crying very hard, and all she could get out was, “Something very bad happened to Carrie. She is dead.”

“Wait, what? What do you mean she is dead?” I responded.

“She hurt herself,” my mom responded. “We are on the way back from the cabin and will be there soon.”

I couldn’t even process what my mom had just said. I don’t even know what came out of my mouth after that, but I know I started crying.

I collected myself and went back onto the sales floor. 

As I approached my desk, my manager could tell something was wrong. She called me over to her desk and asked what happened. 

I lost it and started crying. Through the tears, I was able to tell her. She told me to log out and go.

I felt completely numb, but I went into action mode. I knew I needed to get over to my sister’s house before my mom did because, for whatever reason, I thought I needed to be the strong one and didn’t want my mom to have to deal with the aftermath.

I’m the youngest of five sisters, and Carrie was one of my middle sisters, so having to be the strong one for everyone was a new thought process for me.

I left work and went straight to my sister’s apartment. My son was in daycare, and I had several hours before I had to pick him up. Being at her apartment was surreal.

My nephew and mom showed up a bit after I did, making it even harder. My heart was hurting for my nephew because now he must watch this scene and go through his life without his mom, who he relied on so much. It felt unreal. 

Until the coroner rolled her body out of the apartment, then it became more real. I couldn’t help but think I wanted to check under the sheet and make sure it was her. 

During that same day, the word got out that my sister had passed. One very influential person posted “RIP Carrie” on Facebook, and it was blowing up faster than I could contain. It wasn’t even an hour after I watched the coroner roll my sister’s body out of the apartment. How did anyone know?!?!

I had to do some damage control because one little person didn’t know yet…

My sister’s daughter, who was 11 years old at the time. 

We didn’t want it to get back to her before we could tell her as a family. I had to reach out to that person and ask them to take down their post, which they gladly did. However, the word was already out. Our phones and messengers started blowing up. I had to put my phone away and turn off alerts because it became too much. Ultimately, I put out a post to alert the masses of friends that it was true my sister had passed.

I remember not wanting to tell anyone that she had died by suicide. It didn’t feel like it was anyone’s business, and I didn’t want anyone to know that was how it happened due to the stigma.

A couple of days later, I finally got my answer as to whether it was truly her beneath that sheet during the viewing, where my mom, other sister, niece, and I were present for our private gathering to give my niece a chance to say goodbye.

At that moment, it was real. She was really gone.

My sister was cremated, and we had her celebration of life five days later.

On the morning of February 25th, 2017, I woke up and was about to get ready, and my one-and-a-half-year-old son had a seizure. This was his 2nd episode of seizures in 6 months.

My stepdaughter was running around with my son playing, and suddenly, I heard her and my boyfriend yelling for me. My son was on my stepdaughter’s floor right by the door, his eyes rolling into his head, seizing.

“Call 911,” I yelled. 

Luckily, we live right down the street from a firehouse. The next thing I knew, I heard the sirens and the firefighters tromping up the stairs toward me as I sat next to my son, making sure he was breathing.

They scooped up his limp body and took him down the stairs towards the ambulance. I jumped in, and we headed towards Children’s Hospital.

My stepdaughter and boyfriend followed the ambulance in the Jeep.

We arrived at Children’s Hospital, and they rushed him into the ER and put us in this oddly shaped room where he had two more seizures, three in all, in a 3-hour span.

The first episode of seizures, six months prior, he had six seizures in 8 hours, and my sister Carrie was there to help guide me and keep me calm. It wasn’t fair that she wasn’t there this time. She was supposed to be there.

It seemed like divine intervention because my son stopped having seizures, and they moved us to a hospital room just in time for me to leave and go to my sister’s celebration of life. 

Luckily, my boyfriend, now husband, and his daughter were there too, so they were able to stay at the hospital with my son. 

I changed quickly, spoke at my sister’s celebration of life, and headed back to the hospital to stay in the NICU with my son overnight.

The following year was pretty much a blur, and my coping mechanism was to keep going, stay busy, and not think about my grief. I had to be strong for my family and my son. It wasn’t until I hit a virtual brick wall that I had to finally take care of myself, talk to a therapist, and take some time off work.

I was introduced to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) through my healing journey. I found forgiveness for my sister and myself, which I never knew I needed. It was life-transforming. Through NLP, I learned how to take care of myself so that I could take care of others. 

A year after these two events, I started a mental health and suicide awareness nonprofit called BCC Evolution. We empower humans by providing the knowledge and skills necessary for navigating difficult conversations about mental health, substance abuse, and suicide because education and conversation saves lives!

It’s okay to ask for help. You are not alone. Find a community of incredible people who lift you up, are supportive, and create a safe space for healing. If you can’t find one, come join ours.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.