“It’s choosing to wake up”: Family still grieving one year after daughter’s tragic suicide


Grafton, Mass. — Fresh off a late winter snowfall, a red colonial near Worcester, Massachusetts, looks idyllic. But the last year has been a stunning immersion into the worst kind of grief for the family that lives there.

“It’s choosing to wake up. It’s choosing to breathe,” said Dean Valoras.

It’s been a year since Alysia and Dean Valoras’ oldest child, Alexandra, a 17-year-old with a golden resume, walked to a highway overpass and jumped.

“I still feel this gaping pit, and it’s painful,” Dean Valoras said.

CBS News first met them last summer, when they shared two journals filled with dark thoughts Alexandra left behind. But they’re still learning about her death, discovering a failed suicide attempt five days before, by tracking her phone.  

Alexandra Valoras.

Family Photo

Imagine their confusion, that in between her attempt and her death, she seemed so happy, that her robotics team earned a trip to a big competition out of state.

“Friday after school she came home with her reservation number saying, ‘Mom, can we book our flight? I’m so excited. I’m going,'” Alysia Valoras said.

They still haven’t touched her room and have a hard time crossing the bridge from which Alexandra jumped.

“Sometimes it’s like a magnetic pull, and some days you gotta take a different route,” Dean Valoras said.

They don’t quite know what to do with reminders they can’t avoid.

“On Google you’ll get like, ‘Hey, last year at this time you have these memories on this timeline.’ I always wanna see the picture and I like, I remember, that was a fun time. But it’s torture,” Dean Valoras said.

But they know moving into the next chapter of grieving is a matter of finding some balance.

“That’s part of the whole process of grieving, to get to a place that I can look back on her and enjoy those memories,” Alysia Valoras said.

She is now visiting schools to share Alexandra’s story. Dean Valoras finds comfort in music and writing. In his poetry, maybe he can find a path forward for him and his family, still battling to make sense of the senseless.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

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