How To Truly Help Someone Who Is Grieving

If you know someone who has suffered the sudden loss of a loved one in last night’s unthinkable Las Vegas Concert Massacre (or anyone for that matter), PLEASE read this before reaching out to them!

The only thing I would personally add to the amazingly accurate above-linked article is…

1. Do not judge their behavior in the immediate days that follow the loss. What we have always referred to as “shock” is actually a gift that allows us the ability to make unbearable decisions that have to be made. They will often look back on those days and not really know who that person was, if they remember it at all.

2. If wanting to send anything, consider that they are probably not wanting to eat or do more than hide under their covers. Although their mind is in limbo, their body is not. Things like toiletries, toilet paper, tissue, and other basic bodily function needs are very handy to have in bulk. There also might be people staying with them and trying to help; so paper and plastic dishes, cups and utensils are helpful, as well as food that can be reheated and available for the visitors.

3. Flowers: Gosh, it never occurred to me until suffering the loss of Max, that the last thing I wanted was something else that was beautiful and yet going to die. I could be the only one to feel this way, but candles were much preferred. It has been nearly 9 months and the flame that I have never let die without another one already lit, soothes my heart every time I pass by it.

4. Grief does not go in circles, it is more of a spiral which is sometimes spinning fast and other times slow. We don’t visit each emotion once, we visit them over and over again. Do not rush this process. The standard rule is that it can take up to two years to deeply grieve. There are so many firsts within the first year, that it is like losing that person all over again each time. If after two years your loved one is still not functioning, it is then time to be concerned about their future, wellbeing and to seek additional, professional assistance. Be grateful for every day that they get out of bed.

5. A person in grief will often not want to be “ok” because it will never be “ok” without their loved one. Do not judge this. Give them time.

6. It hurts to smile, nor does a person in grief want to be able to smile. Time can only help this.

7. Do not tell the person grieving how strong they are. Even if they are appearing to be strong, this is one time that they don’t want to feel like they need to be strong. It’s also not the time in their life that they feel proud to be strong. Telling them how strong they are just adds more pressure to remain strong.

8. Give without expectation. They often have no idea of who did and/or gave what. You would not want them to be worrying about being socially “correct” by adding the pressure of having to record, respond and remember who gave what. Give because you want to. Trust me…every act of kindness is sincerely appreciated. When every hour of every day is so incredibly painful, your one act of kindness, whether material or emotional, was a moment of peace and a reminder that all is not lost.

9. Know your own pain. We feel other people’s pain…”empathy”. If you are having a sad day and aren’t certain why, be sure to reach out to your loved ones and see if you are feeling THEIR pain. With so much loss of life in an instant, I anticipate that many of us will be feeling the pain of so many others. If you see a friend, child or loved one become unusually sad/depressed and yet they are not grieving the loss of someone, remind them that they are special and have such a huge heart, that they are feeling the pain of others. Don’t let them own the pain and possibly make self destructive choices believing that it is their own unexplainable pain.

10.  Share your positive, personal stories/memories of their loved one.  Whether now, next year or ten years from now, they will always want to hear how the one they loved is positively remembered by others.  It’s a way of keeping them alive by sharing new positive memories.  They can never hear/read too many good things about their lost loved one.

On a final note…save judgment for after the facts have been obtained. Let’s focus on the one’s grieving and need us RIGHT NOW.

P.S.  Thank you to everyone who has been so amazing through my personal grief.  Every act of kindness and understanding has been a moment of peace.

Erica Stubner

(These posts are in order of most recent.  To read Max’s Story, please scroll down)

Should Parents Be Required to Monitor Their Child’s Digital Device?

Today is September 7, 2017 and it was only a year ago on September 5, 2017 that Hope instagram messaged Max for the first time.  Thinking of this day has me compelled to discuss the role parents play in their child’s ability to harm or be harmed by a digital device (i.e., cellphone, computer, iPad, etc.). Would you hand your child a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the world with any random stranger?  Isn’t that what we are doing when we hand them a digital device connected to the World Wide Web?

If you knew that removing the stigmatism of “invasion of privacy” from your child’s device could save their’s or someone else’s life, or spare them from unnecessary pain, would you remove it?  Some might fear their child is too old to implement this new perspective even though they are still paying for the device;  and perhaps they are right.  However, it’s not too late for those of you with young children. When my 20 year old son and his girlfriend read the draft of this post they said they felt it would be hard if a parent were to suddenly demand to start reading their phone, however, when thinking of their future children, they hope it will be common place to monitor their child’s device.  I am not here to tell you what to do, especially as I am also still considering these same questions.  I am just here to encourage you to ask yourself some questions and consider other perspectives.  Are you practicing your gift of free will if controlled and entrapped by specific beliefs?

There was a day when it was considered an “invasion of privacy” to read your child’s private diary because it was usually locked and hidden away only for the eyes of the author.  Should it also be considered an invasion of privacy to monitor/read the contents of a digital device,  that you are paying for, when it is not limited to one-sided communication with the author; and could bring harm to others?  How is a parent expected to monitor, educate, protect and provide for a child when they have no idea what they are doing and it is considered an invasion of privacy to attempt to see and monitor how they are maturing and interacting with others?

When I was young, we had wired telephones. Parents had the ability to monitor and limit the time their children spent on the phone. You could only drag the chord so far; and even a stack of towels shoved under the bathroom door didn’t mean your parents couldn’t hear your conversation. If you wanted to say something mean to someone, you would have to go out of your way to do it in private. If your parents heard you being mean or bullying someone, would they have been held accountable as your parents? If so, how is a digital device any different?  Now, with the internet, once we hand them a digital device, we are handing them a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the world in the care of any random stranger. Is it even kind to place someone who can not provide for themselves alone in a digital/cyber world?

Would you use your device differently if the person paying for your service (if other than yourself) was expected to monitor what you say and do with that device? If your boss was expected to read and monitor your company phone or computer, would you be more conscious of how you used that device? Is it so wrong to ask that the child/person who we are providing the service and/or device to, to be conscious of how they use the device? Would it be wrong to educate, monitor and require that anyone we provide a car, keys, gas and/or insurance to; to drive safely and be conscious of how they use that vehicle? Would it be wrong NOT to, and allow someone who can not provide for themselves, be able to handle a possible weapon without education and supervision?

Would it be easier for us as parents if the day we hand our child their device we could say, “This is my device and I am allowing you to use it. As long as I allow you to use it or provide you with the ability to use it, I am required to make sure that you can and are using it safely and responsibly. If you would prefer to be in complete control of this device you are welcome to purchase and pay for one as soon as you are able to do so. Until then, I may not want to, but I have to monitor the use of this device.”?

All I ask is that you consider these questions. I am not suggesting that laws be put into place or people lose any rights.   Perhaps we give mankind the ability to use common sense by removing digital devices as possible weapons by simply changing the way we manage/perceive them and attach some accountability to them?

Practice your free will. Make your own choice. At least consider the perspective and make an educated choice.  Every day I witness a child being babysat by a digital device and I fear that if it doesn’t become common place to monitor what your child is doing on such a device, we will lose the ability to protect our youth.  Please remember that it only took four short months from September 5th, 2017 for Max to lose his desire to live due to the digital deception and relationship with Hope.  If you want to see something change, be the change and have the conversation with your child.


Please forgive me for taking so long to update you since my last post.  With my decision to believe in “Hope” and give her the opportunity to seek help;  I thought it was only fair to give her a chance to do so and not risk interfering with her success in any way.  It has been several months and I am now happy to share this update.

“Hope” successfully completed her first 30 days at Sierra Tuscon in Arizona, and has been at her new, current, residential rehabilitation center ever since.  Most of what I know comes directly from talking to Hope because I have had very limited contact with either rehabilitation center.   Hope seems very sincere in her ongoing commitment to learn about herself and how to never repeat the behavior she exhibited with Max.  She seems to be embracing the process, understands the amount of long term work she has ahead of her and constantly expresses her empathy for all of our pain in the loss of Max and the manner in which she contributed to it.  She currently plans to be at the current treatment center until at least the end of September and will then continue through out-patient programs for as long as is necessary.  I have done my part and she is doing hers.  All we can do now is encourage and believe in her success.

Many of you have been following the case of Michelle Carter in the media wherein she contributed towards Conrad Roy’s suicide via a relationship based predominantly on texting. Ms. Carter was convicted, received only 15 months in jail and is being allowed to go home with her family until all appeal efforts have been exhausted. ( ).  I’d like to believe, at this point in time, that how I have chosen to handle Max’s case may have already produced a more positive result and hopeful outcome.  Even if the judge ultimately requires that Ms. Carter to obtain mental health care, she would be doing so involuntarily which, typically, means receiveing such treatment from a facility surrounded by others who are there involuntarily as well.  With my limited knowledge, I fear that all this does is release someone into society who has gained even more negative knowledge from their peers than they had prior to receiving the treatment, and remains upset that they were forced to receive such treatment.  Is that someone who is rehabilitated and unlikely to repeat prior behavior?  Hope is seeking help because she wants the help and has a desire to get the most from what is being offered to her.  Even if Max were alive today, I believe we would still be taking these same steps because she was becoming aware of and asking for help; often telling him that she didn’t understand why she did the things she did to him.  Although I truly believe she will succeed, at least we will still have options should Hope chose to revert back to her old habits, abandon her treatment and attempt to hurt others in the future.  My heart breaks for the Roy family and I hope they find some sense of peace… if that is even possible.

In the meantime, I am trying to do the same.  I am in a kind of pain that I hope none of you ever experience and I ask that you not even try to relate.  While treading water in search of a new normal, the meaning of life, the courage to show Jackson that life is worth fighting for…even now, and a reason to get out of bed every day; I hope to provide further updates that address some more details about Max’s death that need to be shared.

Max’s relationship with Hope is what made him WANT to die, however that does not explain what gave him the ability to actually take his life and in the manner that he chose.  As I have said before, unlike Ms. Carter, Hope did not tell Max to commit suicide.  Wanting to die is not all that is required in committing suicide.  If so, many of us would not be here today.  Being sad or depressed does not make someone suicidal any more than wanting to die means someone will inevitably commit suicide.  What I have learned about Max’s death also involves psychiatrists prescribing medications in the benzodiazepine family, Hope’s personal struggle with and encouragement of such medications, and information on the internet about how to kill oneself with very little pain that Max was able to find only moments prior to taking his life.

I need to write these updates on the rare occasions that I feel I have a steady breath and my instincts are insistant on such, so please be patient.  I hope to address these topics very soon.  In the meantime, if you or anyone you know is being prescribed anything in the benzodiazepine family (i.e. Klonopin, Clorazapam, etc.) please be very careful.  It should not be given to anyone who suffers from depression or is even momentarily depressed or sad.  It is prescribed for anxiety, yet most people who suffer from anxiety know that anxiety leads to a feeling of depression.  Benzodiazepines are anti-seizure medication and can cause someone to want to commit suicide.  An episode of “Orange is the New Black” perfectly referenced it as a drug that makes you feel good but then you will simply  stub your toe and want to die!  Even if taking as prescribed, and in small doses, it can cause this.  Please be very careful.  I am curious to learn how many victims of suicide were also prescribed or had access to benzodiazepines.

I will share such updates with the simple intention of educating people in hopes of saving lives before it is too late.  Beyond that, I would like to begin working on more positive things and focusing on a project that Max and I were working on which encourages random acts of kindness and paying it forward.  Once/if I accept that he is truly gone, I will then need to accept I can’t bring him back.  The only thing to do in that case is to move forward and try to encourage more love and less pain, more acceptance and less competition; and living for the ultimate goal of contributing positively to society through whatever gift and purpose we were born with; in search of happiness as opposed to compensation.

Thank you for support, patience and understanding.

Here is an interview that I have found to be very eye opening about prescription medication.     





This is the first update since posting Would He Be Alive Today If He Had Not Met Her?Please click the link if you have not read the original post.

Since I have not yet chosen to release certain names, I will be referring to Max’s ex-girlfriend, as “Hope”.  As you read this update, I ask that you keep an open mind. This is the path that, I, being an empath myself, has felt compelled to take. Everyone may not agree with me, but please ask yourself…

“If my child was gone forever and I could not bring him back…and the person he thought he loved, whom I FEEL took him from me; was admitting to her wrong doing, and sincerely wanting help…would I help her so that she won’t harm anyone else, and could possibly help others; or would I want to temporarily punish her for the pain that I will live with every day for the rest of my life; knowing she could hurt someone again in the future?”

From my perspective and with the intense amount of empathy that I possess, there is no such question. I simply can’t turn away a young girl who seems to sincerely want my help; and I honestly believe did not ultimately want Max to die. Any punishment within the legal system will be a slap on the hand because we do not have clearly implemented laws relating to cyber terrorism, electronic impersonation and digital deception. It will also not remove the threat of her causing the same harm to someone else in the future. I will never be able to forget what she has done, but if I am going to stay on this journey, forgiveness is the only option. Together, we might not only be able to help and protect the innocent; but also help people suffering from mental illness to help themselves… thereby removing the threat altogether. I can at least give her one chance. Here is what has happened since my last post…

The Voicemail…

On Friday, April 28th at 8:17pm, Hope left me a voicemail saying that she had read my post, realized her wrong doings and really wants to try to work through this together. When I received this voicemail I was overwhelmed with emotions. On one hand I was grateful, hopeful and felt somewhat validated for my efforts. On the other hand, I was afraid of being manipulated, mislead, and even more surprising , was the sinking feeling in my gut that my own empathy had now placed me in a role to help the one person who I held responsible for my son’s death. My sister was in town visiting and wisely asked that I please not respond that night and to sit with it and contemplate first.

The Text Messages…

The following day, Saturday April 29th, Hope sent me text messages asking if we could please meet up to talk. I decided I needed to respond and sent the following text:

“Thank you for reaching out. I will try to get back to you Monday by the end of the day. As you know, I would like to believe that you are getting help by going to a mental health facility but will not be easily convinced. If you are 100% honest with me, we might be able to work together. This is at least a start. In the meantime, please send any proof of what steps you are taking to get help (not just trauma/loss/grief help), but help that will assure you understand what has occurred and the skills to never repeat them at the expense of anyone else. I am already and will forever suffer enough; and if you think you can’t be honest with me, then please don’t cause me more pain by not being truthful. I will do my best to reach out Monday.”

The Meeting…

Monday, May 1, 2017 at 9:06am I texted Hope asking if she wanted to meet. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours and albeit one of the hardest meetings of my life, I walked away grateful for the answers and confirmation to the questions that were keeping me up at night.

My fingers tremble as I type this and my heart aches, but I am grateful to have been given a peek into some truths about the last four months of Max’s life. Hope confirmed everything I had read in she and Max’s texts and most importantly, that it was SHE, and NOT HER MOM (as Max was led to believe), texting him in his final hours. At 11:50pm on January 19, 2017, after several hours of texting, Hope tells Max to forget she exists and he desperately tells her he is going to kill himself because the only way he can forget she exists is to DIE.  She tires of the conversation and tells Max that she has to work at 7am (not true), needs to get some rest, and never responds (as Hope) again. Max reaches out to Hope one more time at 12:51am and says he is not okay…

“Not in the slightest bit and I just wanted to let you know that I had a lot of fun with you when you were still head over heels for me. Bye “Hope”. Live through me. Go out there and kill it for me.”

At 12:57am Hope, now pretending to be her mother, responds to Max chastising him for telling her daughter that he is going to kill himself but also suggests, several times, that help is on it’s way. At 2:21am after constant texting, and Max repeatedly saying goodbye and that he will leave them alone for good; “Hope’s Mom” selfishly and insensitively asks Max…

“How do I get (Hope) to sleep? I’ve tried everything!! She works at 7am. She slept 4 hours last night. Her weight is down 10 pounds. She is so skinny right now.”

At 2:31am on January 20, 2017, “Hope’s Mom’s” final words were… “Hang in there“. Max searched online for how to do so and his approximate time of death was 3:40am (central time).

Remorse and Acknowledgement…

As Hope and I cried, she insisted that she doesn’t know why she treated
Max so horribly or does what she does. She seemed truly confused by her actions and told me over and over again what an “Angel” and “Gift” Max was and how sorry she is. She explained that although she has threatened often, yet is too afraid to ever commit suicide, she feels hopeless and unworthy and doesn’t know how to go on living, now realizing the pain she has caused and causes.

In discussing mental illness, she confirmed some of her history, as well as questions I had relating to medication manipulation; yet it was obvious that she is afraid of the stigmatism that comes with the label of mental illness and any subsequent diagnosis. This fear has kept her from accepting what she is suffering from and, in turn, seeking the proper help. I assured her that most of us probably suffer from some mental difference, she shouldn’t be afraid, and that true in-patient treatment will give her the tools to be able to live a long, honest life, without the fear that she might hurt someone again. We agreed that taking her own life was not an option and Max deserves better. The best thing she can do is to be strong, get help and begin living an honest life. Even though she said she feels like she should have died and not Max…I repeated several times that NO ONE SHOULD HAVE DIED.

Hope assured me that she wants professional help so she can’t hurt anyone again and will dedicate her life to helping others through acknowledging what she did to Max. Now knowing the truth, I wondered if I would have the ability to follow through with my original intent to help Hope. Am I honoring Max and his life by continuing to do what eventually caused him to take his own life which was/is…to believe in her? Although my empathetic side wished I had the strength to hold her hand through this process, I knew I couldn’t while feeling the pain I was/am in. I emphasized that she needs to do this with the help of her family and friends. As Max’s Dad sobbed over learning the definitive confirmation of what truly occurred to our innocent and loving son, I was praying that I could hide somewhere and have anyone else take the reins.

Hope Seeking Help…

Hope sent me information on a Program she had signed up for, interviewed with and was being admitted to on Friday, May 5th, 2017, pending insurance coverage. I feared she was focused on a program which would only help with the trauma of losing Max as opposed to the trauma she has caused due to mental illness and addiction.

Come Friday, May 5th, my faith began to waiver after Hope sent me a picture of a handwritten note from her mom telling her who to call at each Rehab Center and what to ask; which did not relate to mental illness. Hope was confused and asking for my help and I suggested she refer to her psychiatrist. I explained that she needed a program that specialized in the behavioral aspects that cause pathological lying, self sabotage, addiction, anxiety, attention seeking, depression, suicidal ideation and lack of empathy. I asked her to remind her mom that if Hope hadn’t been able to make the right decisions in the past, she really can’t now, and she needed her Mom to hold her hand through this. I explained that for me to get too involved was simply too painful. I wasn’t the best person to help her since I was treading water hourly myself.

By Friday night, Hope was begging me to talk to the Rehab Centers she was considering because she wanted them to know all of the things I thought she needed to focus on getting help for; and wanted to be certain I approved of the program.  After a lot of soul searching, I convinced myself that if my goal was to get her help, then I was all in, and could at least talk to these places and make sure they knew what they were truly dealing with. After talking to the first center and sharing my emotional story, I realized that they were not aware of what truly occurred between Hope and Max; and were now questioning why I was willing to help her. I could not bear the thought of another call like that one, so I told Hope that I was concerned she was not being honest and transparent about Max and why she is seeking help.  I said I would not talk to anyone else unless they had read my initial post on this website first. I didn’t blame her because it was unreasonable to ask someone who struggles with the truth to tell the truth.

Within half an hour I received a call from the other rehab center Hope was considering.   The Admissions Coordinator assured me she had read the post with Hope on the phone.  Although it is not in her capacity to diagnose Hope, she confirmed that their Center was one of the very few that had a lot of experience with my concern regarding Borderline Personality Disorder as well as other mood/mental illness, and offered dual diagnosis programs for mood, addiction and trauma. She assured me that they would assess Hope upon arrival and make sure that she was directed into the appropriate program focusing on her mental health, as opposed to just the trauma from losing Max.  Additionally, she explained that Hope had put me on her release giving me access to her medical records, updates and team while at their center. After my conversation with the Admissions Coordinator, Hope texted me super excited that they had fast tracked her acceptance to the Center and she would be going on Monday, May 8th.

Come Monday afternoon, packed and ready to go, Hope sent me copies of texts saying that there was a problem with her medical records and it would be a couple more days. She was upset, confused, and her anxiety was obviously getting to her.  She again asked for my help.  The people around me, who care for my well-being, were quite skeptical and certain that I was being manipulated in the same way as Max and was about to be her next victim.  I understood their concern, but something in my heart, gut and instincts told me to keep going and I would never regret at least trying to see this through.

Helping Hope…

I agreed to meet Hope at a coffee shop that evening.  We met at 5:30pm and upon leaving at 9:45pm, I knew that I would do whatever it took to get Hope into the program she needed. After hours of hearing her repeat the exact attention seeking words and stories I had read in texts to Max, she began begging ME for a reason that SHE should live! I found myself now being the one who was not going to let happen to her what she let happen to Max. Ideation or not, I was going to save her.  I was going to tell her whatever she needed to hear, hug her and not leave until she was in the hands of a parent or a professional. It was under these circumstances that I finally met and spoke with Hope’s father. He expressed his sincere pain for the loss of Max and assured me that he would travel with Hope and make sure she was successfully admitted into the program we had agreed upon.

While driving home it became clear to me what had been going through Max’s mind and why he wouldn’t give up on Hope. He was feeling her pain, owning her pain, and could not bear the thought of it having anything to do with him or that he didn’t try everything to take her pain away… Empathetic Depression.  Unlike Max, I was shielded with the knowledge of Hope’s illness, actions and attention seeking ideation of suicide, and could therefore remind myself of what I wished I could have told Max.

“Max/Erica, this has NOTHING to do with you. If not you, it would be somebody else. Hope is not aware of what she is doing or the pain she is causing you, and until she gets professional help, she won’t be able to stop. You have done nothing wrong, and need to be proud of how strong you have been and how hard you have tried to help her. However, it’s not your journey…it’s hers.”

On Wednesday, May 9th, 2017 Hope got on an airplane with her father and on May 10th she successfully checked into the Rehabilitation Center she asked me to help her chose. Hope has bravely proven to me that the impossible is possible through her transparency, strength and desire to change her ways.  She is there and checked in and SHE did it.  That, in itself, is a small miracle.  Many of you may still fear that I am a naive dreamer and shouldn’t get my hopes up, but at least I’ll know that I went to great lengths to give Hope this ONE chance.  She has the potential to turn this around and make something positive from an otherwise unbearable loss…but it’s up to her.  Together we can not only help others by educating and exposing what happened between Max and Hope; but we can also help people who suffer from mental illness help themselves, thereby removing the the threat altogether.   If nothing else, let’s do it for Max.

Would He Be Alive Today If He Had Not Met Her?

(This was the original note I posted to my FaceBook page in an effort to briefly share my son’s story as a warning to parents about what could be happening to their friends and family via the internet, cell phones, etc.  I could not possibly discuss all of the aspects related to this and until I have more time to consider how I would like to move forward, I have chosen not to release any other names but Max’s.  I am very aware that the ultimate choice to commit suicide lies within the individual, however, many people who have considered suicide have gone on to enjoy a full life.  With this forum, I also hope to be able to answer questions you may have and still have hopes that she and her family will not only reach out to me, but acknowledge what she has done and get her some help so that she doesn’t do this to anyone else’s loved ones.)
Thank you to everyone for your love and support. Although I have not been able to respond, please know that your prayers and wishes are priceless and have given me the strength to accomplish the difficult task of researching the last 4 months of Max’s life; in an effort to understand what drove him to such hopelessness, that he could not endure another minute of an otherwise blessed and privileged life surrounded by people who loved and respected him for the angelic gift that he was. This has been a painful yet necessary step on the path to awareness and exposing the dangers that coexist with the rapid evolution in technology and a new form of emotional cyber abuse that far exceeds that of physical abuse; yet has very little support within the current legal system.
On September 5, 2016, a 21 year old girl from Nashville, who had been secretly admiring Max on social media, sends him a message via Instagram… “You’re super cute”. She tells Max that she is “coincidently moving to CA (which never comes to fruition) and within 24 hours of texting is pressuring him for some form of a romantic commitment. Max had only had one prior relationship and it was for nearly eight years with his middle and high school one true love, Colby. He could have never predicted or been prepared for what was to come. After reading the texts between Max and this young lady, it appears that Max was being emotionally and verbally terrorized while having his love and empathy preyed upon; purely for attention and possibly a glamorous lifestyle in California. In only 4 short months, Max went from a happy, healthy, 21 year old, actively pursuing his dreams in Los Angeles; to someone who was depressed, sleep-deprived, unable to work, was rapidly losing weight and not only appeared, yet also felt, so sick that he believed he was dying from an undiagnosed disease. Ironically, he had a full body physical scheduled for January 22, 2017 where he probably would have learned that he was dying from a heart that was not only broken, but had been trampled on and slowly suffocated by the one person he thought he loved the most.
In reading these texts I have learned that very little of what she ever said was truthful and she even admitted to lying and impersonating her own friends and family members including aunts, uncles, best friends, etc. via texting apps, which ultimately confused, manipulated, bullied, terrorized, and eventually exhausted Max to the point of hopelessness. He endured constant references and threats of suicide (even requiring Max to frantically convince her brother, whom he had not met, to not commit suicide) as well as illnesses, tragedies, addictions, abuse and deaths; most of which could not have possibly been truthful. Anyone with the amount of empathy that Max felt for others, never stood a chance in a relationship such as this, leading to what I refer to as “Empathetic Depression”. Even after learning of some of the impersonations/spoofing and lies, Max chose to give her a chance to regain his trust and stood behind the “promise” she seduced him into making the first day they met in person…that he would never leave her. Sadly, unbeknownst to Max, she continued to lie and impersonate people even in the final hours of his life; leaving us questioning if the last person who texted him, AND SUGGESTED HELP WAS ON ITS WAY, was truly her Mom or was it once again she pretending to be her mother? There is also the possibility that after she said she had stabbed herself in the neck and sent Max an image of splattered blood which he soon discovered had been copied from google images; he was realizing and having to accept the unconscionable reality that she was still lying and manipulating him; which was simply too painful to accept.
I can not possibly condense more than 2500 pages (approx. 30,000 texts) and examples into a brief summary at this time. However, in an effort to educate and continue this conversation I hope to soon provide a link to a more appropriate and professional platform dedicated to the memory of our amazing son and brother, Max. Additionally, since she references that this was not the first time she has played a role in a romantic/suicidal relationship and often asked Max to kill her ex-boyfriend (which he always responded, “I am not a physical person”); I have reached out to his parents in an effort to warn them as I would have hoped someone would have done for me. We are concerned that this young lady may continue to impersonate/spoof people, only now including Max and our family and friends; so we ask that you contact us if you are shown or receive anything allegedly from us and it is not from an already known number, email or social media related account in your contacts.
Since learning that this young lady returned to her prior boyfriend (whom she too often referred to as an abusive, rapist, pet-killing, monster) immediately after Max passed away, I NEED to fight my way through the painful process of discovery in order to find answers, bring awareness, and even introduce legislature that will protect others from losing all hope at the hands of another’s silent, yet debilitating abuse through the internet, social media and all other current and future forms of telecommunications. We can’t help what we can’t see, hear or touch. Anyone who truly knows me, will tell you that I was a Mother that never missed an opportunity to be with and available to my children, never allowed myself to be distracted so that I would not see, and would probably be the least likely Mother to lose a child to something like suicide. However, even though I saw the decline in my son, did not care for this young lady, was seeking help, intervention and assistance; without knowing the extent of what was occurring in Max’s cyber world; the handcuffs locked on my hands because he was an adult male and I was being told by professionals that I was enabling him, he did not fit the “mold” of someone who would truly commit suicide, and that I needed to assist Max in learning to “self soothe” through this typical time in every 21/22 year old’s life; only left deep wounds as I tried desperately to remove them. Had I been aware of his cyber hell, I would have gladly taken it one step further and cut my hands free in an effort to save him. If we can’t see it, then we need to stop it before it happens again. With your continued thoughts and prayers, being an empath myself, I hope to be able to do this as well as guide this young lady towards seeking help, understanding the error in her ways, and maybe even advocating to help others through her metamorphosis. Max saw something in her and died trying to save her. Although it will be hard, I hear him telling me to do the same; but never at the expense of myself or while blinded in the dark, as he unfortunately learned on his journey.

September 2016
December 2016