My Son and His Obituary

Trigger warning: the following account and obituary contain multiple references to suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Lifeline, 800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

Eleven weeks ago today, my son died by suicide. We cannot reduce the stigma of a death by suicide if we are ashamed of the truth. We are not ashamed. Heartbroken and grief stricken, devastated… but not ashamed.

The following is our son’s obituary as printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Behms_In_DC_36 (2)Kyle Lawton Behm took his life on August 27, 2019 and his family and friends are deeply grateful for the gift of the more 29 years of his life. Kyle was loving and loved, gentle and fierce, clever and courageous.

Born on June 8, 1990 in Rockville, Maryland, the son of Ellen and Roland Behm, Kyle shared an unbreakable bond with his big sister, Laura . Kyle graduated from The Westminster Schools in 2008, and Mercer University in 2015.

Kyle battled with anxiety, bipolar disorder, and suicidality since his sophomore year in college. The illnesses gave no quarter and Kyle asked for none. We will remember the many days that Kyle was victorious. We will remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years he had.

Kyle is survived by his parents Ellen and Roland; sister Laura Sands and niece Margot Sands; grandmothers Carol Behm and Corinne Mayborn; and aunts, uncles, cousins, Kappa Sigma brothers and friends who will all miss him desperately. He was preceded in death by grandfathers Jac Behm and Mitch Mayborn.

There will be a memorial service for Kyle at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, at Morningside Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk by joining Team Kyle’s Friends at



After hearing a particular song, reading meaningful poetry, seeing a beautiful sunset, the majesty of the mountains, the vastenss of the ocean, we feel that tear well up and roll down our cheek. We tell others of the experience that we were brought to tears.

Brought to tears. Now when I am “brought to tears” there is no single tear, no feeling of wetness of my cheek for a moment to be wiped away self consciously. Now those same experiences fell me to my knees, wrack my body with sobs. I take care to not notice the beauty of words, music or sunsets when out in public. Will they think I’m mad? Cart me away to a padded room?

Maybe they will join me on the floor and cry with me.

This is my life now.

After Kyle died.




2017 MMD Reading Challenge Update

This week I updated my chart for the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. With the year almost halfway over, I’ve read 10 books (well, maybe a couple more, but they either didn’t fit the challenge or were a second for a particular category). Honestly, this list is probably only interesting to me, but here you go anyway.

The Color Code:

Red = a book chosen for the category. I don’t have it yet. Subject to change.

Blue = a book chosen for the category that I own or have checked out from the library.

Green = what I’m currently reading.

Black = This category is complete! 

Reading for Growth

Category Book 1 Book 2
Newbery Award Winner or Honor Book The Graveyard Book, Gaiman  
Translated Book The Sound of Things Falling, Juan G. Vasquez  
Poetry, Play or Essay Collection The Impossible Will Take A Little While  
More than 600 Pages    
Any Genre: Current Event Theme Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar  
Immigrant Story Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok  
Published Before 1960 Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter The Awakening, Kate Chopin
3 Books by the same Author Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys
#ownvoices or #diversebooks author This is Where it Ends, Marieke Nijkamp  
Unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending Brief Life of Oscar Wao  
Nominated for award in 2017 check shopping list on amazon for …. 2017 Pen America Literary finalists
Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner Gilead, Marilynne Robinson All the Light We Cannot See*

Reading for Fun

Chose for the cover Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, A. Schumer  
Set somewhere I’ve never been    
I’ve already read it The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood  
Book about books or reading Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, Anne Fadiman  
Genre I Usually avoid What Women Fear, Angie Smith  
I’m Dying to Read it Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead  
Backlist of Favorite New Author    
Recommended by Someone with great taste All the Light We Cannot See, A. Doerr  
Excited to buy or borrow but hadn’t read Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance  
Topic or Subject I already Love Blessings, Anna Quindlan (Audio)  
Juicy Memoir Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo*

Book Review: Gilead

2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Growth

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner

For this category, I chose Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.

Gilead, set in Gilead, Iowa, begins as a letter by John Ames, an elderly pastor, tgileado his young son to provide his son with the legacy of a father that he will not have the opportunity to know well. The story continues as this letter throughout with only breaks between subjects or writing sessions. More than just a letter of wisdom handed down to this son, Gilead becomes a journey of a life well examined as Ames is confronted with reconciling his relationship with the adult son of his best friend in the present day as he recounts his memories of the past.

This epistolary novel (a novel written as a series of documents) forces the reader to slow down and let the words of the good pastor work their way into your heart. Without flash and fast-paced drama, it surprised me by becoming a book I couldn’t put down.

Ames does not shy away from revealing his struggles and flaws, giving the reader a fully developed (maybe even more than fully developed) character. Gilead felt more like the memoir of an actual person than fiction and that explains my liking it so much.


Are you still with me? Do you have a pet?

I have been MIA from the blogoverse here, but with good reason. As much as I’d love a job where I just sat around and wrote stuff (apparently it IS possible, so I hear), I decided to attempt a venture (adventure?) where I may be able to make money sooner while at the same time not have a boss.

This will still be my writing website, and I still intend to cash in on my YeahWrite Bronze membership perk of having one of the YW editors give me a consultation. So when I’m not painting, I’ll be over here writing. And getting back to the remedial writing advice, which means getting back to the novel.

Citra2-056What’s that? Painting? Yes, painting portraits of pets… any kind that has legs. I have my own website,, which is scary for a baby boomer (just barely) like myself, but there you go. So, check that out. I’ve set up some dedicated social media site, as one does these days: and instagram @EllenPaintsPets.

My twitter handle, @ellenbehm, is the same as always, it’s just that now I have to censor myself a wee bit.

Drop on by and see what I’ve done with the new place!

What I’ve Been Up To

This is one of those “I’m here and I’m alive” kinds of posts… so, what have I been up to since I don’t appear to be blogging around these parts very much. How about some highlights, in no particular order?

  1. Thinking about writing Yeah Write posts, if not actually writing them.
  2. Checking out Yeah Write’s updated website and its fancy new badges. Can’t wait to use a new one for some actual grid entries!
  3. Planning a trip for my granddaughter’s first birthday!
  4. Knitting for the little precious one!
  5. Practicing painting pets.
  6. Contemplating getting a job, but not wanting a Job.
  7. Writing a business plan that will lead to more of a vocation than a job.
  8. Putting my novel revising, if not all the way on the back burner, not on the front burner either. See #5-7.
  9. Choosing a website builder. Planning a new facebook page.
  10. Obsessing over the state of the nation on twitter.
  11. Church stuff (deacon duties, bell ringing, being crafty)
  12. Doing some suicide prevention training.
  13. Reading and finishing books, but, ahem, behind on my reviews. (Upcoming are Gilead, She’s Come Undone and The Sugar Queen.)
  14. Decluttering (the beginning phase, which seems to involve more thinking about and less doing).
  15. Dental stuff.
  16. Sleeping better (yes, really… have a new sleep apnea oral appliance… see #15).
  17. Discovering I can listen to audiobooks from the library on my computer while I paint (what? did everyone already know that? late to the party again!)
  18. Playing Two Dots.
  19. Giving up sugar for Lent (except for wedding and birthday celebrations).
  20. Life is good.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Fun

A Book You’ve Read Before

handmaidIf you’d never heard of this book before, the odds are good that if you live in the US that you have now. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, published in 1985 has seen its sales soar and at this moment, sits at #3 on Amazon’s hourly updated best seller list.

I read this book most probably in the early 1990s and enjoyed it enough to search out other books by Atwood. But I enjoyed it then as a dystopian novel that was just fiction. Just Fiction.

Did she portend the future? With a group of men making decisions about women’s healthcare, her book about a theocratic military dictatorship taking away all rights of women seems more relevant today than it did when I first read it. I read it more carefully this second time around and found it more horrifying.

Written in first person by Offred (pronounced Of-Fred), she describes her situation and day to day activities assigned as a handmaid to The Commander. As a handmaid, her sole responsibility is to become pregnant by The Commander, carry the baby and then hand it over at birth to him and his wife, Serena Joy. What she can and cannot do is strictly regulated with her only freedom being daily shopping trips for the family’s provisions with a fellow (assigned) handmaid.

In between chapters describing her current life, Offred describes what life was like before government was overthrown, her life with her husband and daughter.

Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.

~Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Atwood considers this book speculative fiction vs science fiction because nothing is in the books that either hasn’t happened in society before or that is possible. And there is really nothing too science-y about it anyway. In fact, it seems that society has moved backward in scientific development. Sounds like something that could happen with climate change deniers, the removal of scientific information from government websites and the potential dissolution of some government agencies.

This week, a group of women in Texas donned red capes and white winged bonnets to protest proposed anti-abortion measures in the Texas senate. This really happened. I’m thankful that women and men are outraged enough about what is happening in regard to health care to take action and be seen, and if making a point about losing women’s rights by wearing costumes from the imagination of Margaret Atwood, then more power to them.

The Handmaid’s Tale is not the only dystopian speculative fiction novel to see an increase in sales. 1984 by George Orwell is currently #1 on Amazon’s Science Fiction best seller list and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has also found some new readers.

Be careful what you wish for.