Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Susan Warner lost her son to suicide six years ago. Six months after that her husband, a top Macy’s executive, died of a rapidly growing cancer, eight weeks from diagnosis to death.

If anyone knows better how to grieve and then make yourself whole again, it’s Susan. Her new book, Never Say Never Say Always, is a guide to dealing with loss and moving forward.

Many of us experience a sense of sadness and loss around the holidays. Susan’s book is a helpful companion to dealing with seasonal depression.


JIM MONAGHAN – You talk in this book about making right turns after certain events and you had two very tragic and very sudden events happen. And as I was going through this, I’m thinking, well, how do you know which right turn to make? Because there are a lot of right turns that we have in front of us.

SUSAN WARNER – Well, I’m hoping that the word “right” is a double meaning, that it’s right, correct and right to the right. I guess I’m differentiating it from a left turn, which is usually denoted as not the right way to go. I believe that when you have profound loss or loss at all because I don’t corner the market on loss. And that loss can be a child, a parent, a friend, an animal that you love dearly, that you suffer. And I think that what we need to learn to do is realize that you want to live.

You want to live the best life you can and you want to make those right choices. So my mantra is to move forward, not to move on, and to take these people with you because they were important and imprinted who they were on you and bring them with you into the next experience and the next choices in your life. And I think the choices can be a silver lining to loss.

JM – You talk about profound loss and you had two of them and very back to back. They were very close. One, your son passing away from suicide and then your husband a matter of months later. Both of them tragic, both of them very sudden. And I was wondering, in dealing with your son’s loss, and we’re not supposed to bury our kids. We know that.

SW – No, we’re not. It’s unnatural.

JM – It’s very unnatural. But I was wondering, in dealing with the suddenness and the grief of that how much did it prepare you for what happened when your husband passed away?

SW – To know my true story, I lost my mother at 18. So somehow I think through loss and DNA, I’m a survivor. I think that I was bred to be a survivor. My son’s suicide. And let it be known that both my son and my husband were bright lights, extraordinary people. Kind, magnanimous, incredibly well liked. Both of their memorials had, I think, 1000 people at both my son and my husband’s separate memorials, six months apart. Are you ever prepared? I knew my son had demons. We had dealt with my son’s demons. Addiction was it. Gambling was his biggest addiction. But addictions tend to branch and rear their ugly heads in other ways. I was not prepared for suicide but I was capable of intellectualizing his pain.

I do believe that suicide is selfless, not selfish. And that those people are thinking they will make your life better. So I have come to understand and rationalize David’s choices. My husband had an eight week diagnosis to death at 62, January 15 to March 18. Hard to rationalize, but I had 38 glorious years with my husband that are unduplicable. So I’ve learned to appreciate that and to know that now my life are new choices, new relationships.

I had a granddaughter born who has completed the life cycle and brought such joy into my life, a depth of love I didn’t know was possible. And I’ve dated and had relationships and learned how other men talk to me and look at me and touch me, and I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to do again. So I believe that right choices, that word right again is imperative, and that you sit there and think it through and understand that there is a whole life out there for you.

JM – One of the reasons why I wanted to have you on at this time of year, it’s very festive. We just had Thanksgiving. We have Hanukkah, we have Christmas, New Year’s, a myriad of holidays. Dealing with grief at this time of year can be very difficult for people. There’s that empty chair at the table, especially that year of firsts. And you had that year of firsts – a double whammy for you. Just months of each other. Yeah. So how do people go about dealing with grief in that situation?

SW – And I will tell you that grief isn’t linear. So it’s not like first year is horrible and then the second year gets better. It sneaks up on you like that dream before you wake in the morning. You never really know when you’re going to get hit. I claim that I’m great 360 days a year, but watch out for those other five days. I’m like the coyote chewing off their paw, only my paw is grief. So sometimes I’ll tell you, lean into it, that you need to feel. We’re all busy as a society repressing grief. Don’t talk about it. Don’t act about it. Anderson Cooper tells you he’s just discovering his grief from his brother and his father 30, 40 years later. That’s not healthy.

We as a society don’t really embrace grief. So if leaning into it is what you need to do, then do it. But if you want a happier holiday, I think new traditions are wonderful. Do things that were on your bucket list that you never did before. Try to take your traditions that were and morph them into something new. It makes for a happier time when you’re not forever looking in the corner and seeing a ghost or a shadow. I think that you can lean into the holiday and find joy. Go see the tree, go into the stores and see the beautiful displays. Appreciate the holiday for the holiday, not in your inner core of what you’re missing, but what you’re gaining.

I was in the stores. I was on Fifth Avenue the other day. I couldn’t believe how pleasant everybody was. It’s there. What you give is what you get back. So if you enter that store or go down that street and smile, chances are you’re going to get one back. You give what you get.

JM – You mentioned that your book is not religious in nature, but how much did your faith help you through these two losses of your son and your husband?

SW – It’s a very good question. One of the testimonials in my book is by the rabbi from Central Synagogue, Rabbi Salth, who visited us almost every other day. And my husband would ask questions that he wanted me to answer. Rabbi Salth would advise me. I would tell my husband. He trusted me. It’s a spirituality. It’s the fact that the Rabbi told me that souls travel in pairs. So the thought of my husband and son being together is something that I keep really forefront in my mind, and I know that they are together, which is really comforting.

JM – I came across this motivational quote the other day, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,” which sounds wonderful until you’re in the rain and you realize that it’s getting harder to dance because you’re carrying the weight of those soggy clothes.

SW – It is. And you know what? The rain stops and the sun comes out, and it’s tomorrow. And those dark days, you will wake up, and it will be tomorrow. So that anniversary has passed. Christmas Day is over. Thanksgiving dinner ended, and then it’s tomorrow. And life resumes its normalcy. And you can put everybody back in their place where they belong and step forward and make choices. Yeah, we come into a new normal after a certain period of time. You still miss that person. You can still grieve, but it’s a new normal. You learn how to deal with it, but your new normal becomes your normal. And that’s the beauty of it. And that’s why we’re resilient, and that’s why the highest on the food chain, because we can do that.

For more information on Susan Warner, go to her website –

  • Amber Caron On Wreaths Across America

    Wreaths Across America is getting ready to lay more than two-million wreaths at the graves of our country’s fallen soldiers.

    National Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday December 16 and in preparation, there are three area events taking place this week.

    • Tuesday December 12 5:15 PM at Jonathan Dayton High School  in Springfield
    • Wednesday December 13 10 AM at Liberation Memorial- Liberty State Park in Jersey City
    • Wednesday December 13 12 PM at New Jersey Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, NJ


    Amber Caron is the Director of Communications for Wreaths Across America. The daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, Amber talks about the organization and this year’s events.

  • Rock N Ruff


    Merry Pitmas!

    It’s TC and every holiday season I team up with my friend Sunny Nowell from the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter for a WDHA Rock N’ Ruff segment to showcase our larger bully breeds, and this “Merry Pitmas” we have an absolute gem to sit under your Christmas tree.

    Charlie is a sweet, gentle, loving boy who has been described by Sunny as an “angel” in his kennel, who sits quietly, happy for a warm bed and hearty meal.

    Charlie came to the shelter after being abandoned in Paterson, tied to a fence with many scrapes, and cuts and it looked like he hadn’t had a meal in a long time. Charlie’s past doesn’t affect his ability to love everyone he meets, his desire to make friends, and his tail simply never stops wagging- In fact, he was knocking things over with it!

    Charlie is about two years old, people and dog-friendly, and is very smart, already knowing basic commands. He loves plush toys and treats and has a lot of energy upon first meeting, but loves to lean into you and get pets and cuddles.

    If you think Charlie may be a good fit for you, reach out to the shelter via their website Randolph Regional Animal Shelter link, or call them at 973-543-9333 or stop by and visit them at 97 Ironia Road in Mendham.  Below is more info on their adoption process.

    Adoption fees
    Dogs and cats – $50 – all spayed, neutered, vaccinated
    Looking for 2?  Adopt one get one free!
    Kittens are $150 each and $250 for two (includes spay/neuter).
    * Approved application required for all adoptions.

    Check out Charlie’s photo gallery shot by our “Puparazzi” Joe Frazz Photography

    On behalf of WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff, we thank you for your support of animal adoptions,  our WDHA Ultimate Rock Dogs Charity Calendars WDHA Ultimate Rock Dogs Charity Calendar Link and our “Opt To Adopt” mission!

    Happy Holidays!

  • Coach Sheets' Ride In

    Jeremy Sheetinger is the head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College where he led the Grizz Gang to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.

    These quick hits may, on the surface, be geared toward his fellow baseball coaches, but his motivational message can easily be applied to the classroom, workplace, and your personal relationships.

    This week, Coach Sheets talks about dreaming big, having a plan on how to fulfill that dream, and working hard to execute that plan.

  • Local Look

    Looking for something fun to do in the area? Chris Swendeman has you covered with this week’s Local Look.

    There are always so many fun events happening in our local communities.  Check out what’s in store for this week in New Jersey.

    • Stop by Millburn Short Hills today for some holiday spirit and shopping. It’s the 2023 Winter Village from 5 to 9 PM. There will be cozy igloos, fire pits, s’mores and winter holiday entertainment, and it’s free. Visit for more info.
    • Or you could take a drive through a fantastic holiday light show at the Middlesex County Fairgrounds in East Brunswick. The Winter Wonder Lights display takes place from now through December 31, with over 1.5 million lights animated to some of your favorite holiday tunes. Visit for more details.
    • And drop by Cluster later this evening for a special Hanukkah Grand Menorah lighting from 5:30 to 7:30. There will be live music, hot cocoa, Hanukah gifts and more. Visit for further info.


    And that’s your Local Look for this week on The Jersey Magazine.  If you’d like your event to be featured on The Local Look, you can email us at [email protected].  See you next week on 105.5 WDHA.

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