Kyle Dyas suicide inspires Michelle Venus project And Tomorrow Comes Again
On March 6, 2011, KUNC-FM personality Kyle Dyas committed suicide by jumping from the 42nd floor of the Spire Building. This act was shocking for Dyas's fans and devastating for his longtime partner, Michelle Venus. Now, a year later, Venus is launching And Tomorrow Comes Again, a project that aims to help those suffering suicide's aftershocks to find hope and healing. And she's looking for help with this mission.
Right now, And Tomorrow Comes Again is represented by a just-launched website and affiliated Facebook page. But the ultimate goal is to create a book featuring contributions from a wide variety of those left behind.
"It's going to highlight people I'm identifying as diarists," says Venus, a freelance writer. "I'm going to ask them to provide written journals and audio diaries, so there'll be a CD in the book where you can hear people talking about their experiences. And that's all I'm asking them to do -- just talk about your experiences, and how you finally came to some level of peace."
She adds that she's looking for people "who are at different stages of loss. One of the people who's agreed to be involved in this project lost her sister over twenty years ago, but she still gets tears in her eyes when she talks about her. And I'd like to talk to people who are new at their loss. I just want to get different viewpoints. There are many books about suicide, but they all seem to be about one person and what that one person experienced. And this one will be from many different vantage points -- a collection that I think will be a very strong resource."
The roots of the project stretch back to Venus's fiftieth birthday -- on March 7, 2010, a day shy of one year prior to Dyas's suicide. "I decided to start a gratitude project," she recalls. "I had just been laid off from a job, and I thought that the best way to handle it was to find something to be grateful for every single day. I was just going to do it for a couple of weeks, but then I decided to do it for the entire year. And the last day of the project was the day Kyle died."
Venus hadn't penned her final entry when she heard the dreadful news, "and, of course, he was my gratitude," she goes on. "But then, the next day, I thought, I've got to keep this going. Where I am now, more than ever, this is important to me. So I kept it going, and over the course of this last year, so many of those gratitudes were related to my healing process and what I was experiencing and how I was trying to find my way through this. So I wrote several essays that I posted on my Facebook page, and I decided, you know what? People need to talk bout how they get through this -- how do you get through a tragedy like this. And hopefully it will help people who are contemplating suicide to understand that there is such a broad-reaching result from their actions. When somebody makes that choice, there's a ripple effect. It impacts people they're closest to, but people that don't even know them are impacted, too."
That was certainly the case with Dyas. "There were close to 400 people at his memorial service in Fort Collins," she notes. "I was just astonished by that and how many people he touched. And on the KUNC Facebook page and their website, there were hundreds of tributes to him. That was very helpful. Because this was so public, there were times when that part of it was really sucky. But it is what it is, and you just have to take what's left and salvage it."
That sparked the idea for And Tomorrow Comes Again. The project's name was going to be The Healing Diaries, "but I Googled that and it was a blog by a former porn star who'd found Jesus," she says with a laugh. "But then I thought, the gift that everybody has is tomorrow -- and it comes every day. Every day, we get another tomorrow, and that tomorrow has opportunities and possibilities we really need to grab onto."
And Tomorrow Comes Again is featured on CommunityFunded.com, a new Kickstarter-like site that she hopes will aid her in funding the book. There's also a contact-us page on the project's website allowing potential diarists (like her daughter, Devon Seymour, who's agreed to contribute) to contact her directly. She hopes to pull everything together in time for publication of the book in the spring of 2013.
In the meantime, how is Venus handling the anniversary of Dyas's passing? "This week, I'm okay, for a couple of reasons," she says. An example: She recently took an office, so she's able to work somewhere other than her house -- a setting where it was difficult to focus when she was "in a place of struggle."
But there's also the matter of her birthday. Because of its proximity to Dyas's death, she initially decided to pick another date to celebrate, and after a suggestion from a Facebook friend, she settled on summer solstice, June 21. But then, yesterday, her mom called and quickly wished her a happy birthday. And after a couple hours of thinking about it, she says, "I thought, Goddamn it, today is my birthday, and I'm taking it back. And that's been a really healing thing-- to reclaim this day."
And all the other tomorrows, too. Here's a video Venus created for the project.
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More from our Media archive: "Kyle Dyas: Memorial service set for KUNC music director who took his own life."
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