Poetry has often been said to help many express their most vulnerable emotions. For Allen Miller, senior help desk analyst at Waynesburg University, poetry helped him to express his emotions after the loss of his youngest son Nyjel. In “In the Wake of Suicide”, Miller writes a collection of poems after the sudden loss of his son to honor his son and raise awareness for suicide.
“I’ve been writing for a long time,” Miller said. “I’ve been writing since probably the ‘90s, just never really published anything. My way to cope with his loss was to write. So, I wrote the night I lost him. I wrote multiple times the following days, weeks, months.”
Miller said writing was his main way to grieve the loss of his son. It was not until Nyjel and Miller’s therapist shared a way to honor Nyjel and raise suicide awareness that Miller decided to publish his collection of poems.
“He read some of my stuff and said, ‘you know you’re looking for ways to honor your son, keep his memory alive and you’re looking for ways to promote suicide awareness and help others, why don’t you publish these? Cause I think it would do both,’” Miller shared.
After receiving help from Emily Schroeder, a student at Waynesburg University who helps with “Muse and Stone”, and about two years of work, Miller was finally ready to publish his book.
“To me it has a two-prong affect. First and foremost, it’s to, you know, keep my son’s name and memory alive, but I’m hoping it can help others,” Miller said.
Miller stated the rest of his books are going to be published under the pen name, Nyjel Paul, as a way to keep Miller’s sons memory alive. Miller also started a scholarship called the “Nyjel Paul Miller Endowed Scholarship” and started the group Team Hope, a suicide awareness and prevention group in Greene County, in hopes to keep his sons memory alive.
“[Team Hope] was the team we started with the suicide awareness group, the mothers and I,” Miller said. “If you look at our moniker, “Just kNow YOU Matter”, it’s for the three sons lost. Kelly lost her son Jeremy, I lost my son Nyjel and Anita lost her son Michael. The ‘you’ is capitalized for everyone who is lost and everyone who is struggling; that you matter.”
Miller’s book was released on September 12, 2022, exactly two years after the sudden loss of his son.
“It was [the] single worst day/night of my life when I lost him,” Miller said. “When it first happens, even after the first year, you know, my wife says it and I talk to other parents who’ve lost kids and they say the same thing, it’s hard to believe that they’re gone. I think I’m past that now, I know he’s gone. I don’t know why…never will know why but I’m at the point where I have to accept it.”
Allen Miller offered some wisdom to those who may be struggling or considering suicide.
“My son would always say ‘I don’t matter dad, if I died tomorrow nobody would care’ and I kept saying ‘You’re wrong’, so I just told the girls: If you ever the feel that way, I just want you to know something, and I know because I’ve lived it, you do matter,” Miller said. “For everyone of you who thinks you don’t, I can promise there is someone who will cry for you. I know there is someone who will cry for you and someone who will hurt for the rest of their life if you were to go. I know this because I do that now.”
If anyone you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, you can receive help by calling the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or just by calling 988.