There are many challenges a parent faces, but dealing with a child's suicide may be one of the most difficult. For many parents, moving past the devastating grief seems impossible. But after the suicide of his son Nathaniel in 2011, Denis Asselin managed to turn his enormous loss into an opportunity to raise awareness for Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), the condition that ultimately led to his son's death.
"It is painful for a caregiver and a parent to witness the extreme suffering of someone with a brain disorder," Asselin said in a segment on HuffPost Live. "It is just absolutely your worst nightmare. You just try to walk one step at a time and that's what I did, but it's not sustainable."
Asselin's son began suffering from BDD at age 11. Sufferers of this disorder become consumed with personal appearance and perceived physical flaws, which can lead to crippling anxiety and depression. After a 13-year battle with BDD, Nathaniel took his own life. "If he had blossomed fully, he would have been an incredible agent of change in the world, but I think when you live as raw as he did in an unfiltered life, you just can't keep on going," Asselin explained.
Following Nathaniel's death, Asselin and his family completed the famed Spanish pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago, which inspired Asselin to embark on a personal journey in 2012 -- walking the 500 miles from his home in Cheyney, Pa., to Boston and raising awareness of BDD along the way.
Joining Asselin in the conversation were host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin; Christine A. Scheller, a journalist, essayist and a mother whose son committed suicide; Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Shore, a rabbi and writer; Dr. Paul Steinberg, a psychiatrist and writer; and HuffPost Senior Religion Editor Reverend Paul Raushenbush.