Debra Ruder Communications

Writing that matters

Walking with his son

A grieving father is out there walking — walking to honor his son, to release some of his anger and pain, and to raise awareness about the tormenting disorder that drove his 24-year-old son to take his own life.

Denis Asselin began his 525-mile “pilgrimage” from Pennsylvania to Boston in late April, stopping along the way at meaningful places in his son Nathaniel’s short life, like the schools he attended and hospitals where he was treated for body dysmorphic disorder, a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior that made him think he was hideous, even though he was handsome and fit. This funny, smart, and kind young man suffered from BDD for 13 years before committing suicide in 2011.

Today’s Boston Globe ran an extremely compelling article about Asselin’s “Walking With Nathaniel” trek, and it’s worth reading. You feel the frustration of a family grappling with an awful illness, as well as the love driving this father’s cathartic goodbye journey. “He says his son has been with him the entire way,” author Bella English writes. Quoting Denis Asselin, “I see him walking firmly and steadily in front of me … I get a sense of his releasing whatever association we had with the place, and I am able to do that, too.”

You can read the piece here. Denis Asselin has also kept a blog about his journey.

Consider this ….

There are many ways to say goodbye, even when someone you adore dies suddenly. This is one parent’s way of expressing his affection and honoring his son.