‘My Girl’ – Jennifer’s Story

Rachel’s story, as told by her mother Jennifer Loughran

I stayed at daughter’s house for a month after her death.

I had two children, my son Jesse was born in 1988, and my daughter Rachel born in 1991. Initially I was a stay at home mom but not for very long because my ex-husband is an alcoholic He was removed from the house by the police.

We sold the house and split the proceeds after we got it out of escrow. I moved the kids to Pennsylvania and drove for hours to the drop-off place where I felt safe and 40 percent of the time he would not show up for his visits to pick up the kids and they had to deal with all of that on top of what he was doing to me.

I would have to take the kids and go home and my son was acting out, screaming and yelling and Rachel was very quiet. She would wet herself.

I’m ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), so is Jesse and so was Rachel. He was difficult at times but Rachel was very quiet. She would watch what was going on with her brother and she would, like, go into her own world. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think those may have been the signs of mental illness with all we were going through. She was really sweet. She was such a sweet little girl.

Jesse was upset because he wants to see his dad. Rachel was upset because she doesn’t know why it’s just mom and not dad.

My kids got split because the man I was dating a year after divorce and my therapist said if you split the kids up, kids do better with the same sex patient. Jesse went to stay with his dad and Rachel stayed with me. For seven or eight years Rachel did not see her brother or her father.

Jesse and Rachel went to high school together at her dad’s house for one year and then went to high school in Vermont where I was.

Rachel came home from her father’s in New Jersey and had to go to a new high school because I had moved the next town over, which was better because they had had more AP (advanced placement) classes. She became best friends with the valedictorian and the girl who was the lacrosse captain. Then she had her first really serious boyfriend.


We came home one night and every light in the house was on, including the attic.

I ran in the house and Rachel was in her bedroom crying because they had broken up and she was beside herself. I don’t know if it was psychotic or mania but it wasn’t normal. It wasn’t just a teenager being dramatic the way she was reacting to this breakup.

She wouldn’t let me in her room. I called 911. The police and I, we were all in her bedroom. They got her calmed down enough they were going to leave. I felt lump under the blanket and threw the blankets back and there was a noose under the blanket.

She had broken her closet trying to hang herself, cut the clothes line in the basement, which is why that light was on. She tried to do it in the attic, and that’s why that light was on.

When the police saw the noose they took her to hospital.

I went to see her everyday but I feel like I failed her because I didn’t know what to do.

She was diagnosed as bipolar with borderline personality disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

I took a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) course and found out her perspective is her reality. If she thought I was Attila the Hun, I was.

I’ve diagnosed her father as bipolar. I recently learned his mother was bipolar and had to be institutionalize, and his grandfather was bipolar and committed suicide in middle age.


Rachel did one year of college then went into the National Guard.

She met a young man in the National Guard who did really well and they got married. Later, she left the Guard because she didn’t like the way women were treated. And they got divorced.

She had another serious boyfriend who speaks with wounded warriors. He broke up with Rachel and asked her to leave because he has PTSD and was afraid what she would do to his daughter.

She left a suicide note on the bed. We got her into the hospital for observation, like what happened in Vermont. But she never talked in group. She started mothering one of the other patients.

She had been working for the Army processing promotions, but when was she done with that stint in Utah, she decided she didn’t want to re-enlist. She was into snowboarding out there.

When her boyfriend broke up with her, her friends took care of her.

She got a job as a hostess near the mountain where they were all snowboarding. She got another serious boyfriend. They lived together for a couple years, and she had a miscarriage.

This guy had his brother come and live with them and Rachel didn’t like that.

When they broke up she tried to commit suicide. She was in her vehicle and somebody saw her in her car and called 911.

I got a call from the hospital in Utah. They said your daughter is here, she overdosed. They gave me the list of the stuff that was in the cocktail. I didn’t even know where she got half the stuff.

When I went to see her, she didn’t look like my daughter from the drugs. A lot of snowboarders do drugs – a lot of snowboarders. It’s a pretty big drug scene. She had met this guy Josiah and he was selling drugs.

I stayed for about a week and when she got released from the hospital, she and her dog spent two nights in the hospital.

Then she when she got out, one of her girlfriends came and we went out to dinner and took her home. That whole house, even from the driveway, smelled like pot.

One of her best friends and I talked to her and told her you need to come home. You need to be closer to your family and your support.


She went back to her father’s. The first week she was there she was out in the front yard with her dog and local realtor came over to see her. They were together for almost five years and had a daughter together.

They lived with his parents in a guest house in the back yard, and Rachel hated it. She didn’t want to be always up against his parents.

I didn’t get to see my granddaughter until she was four months old.

The week before Christmas 2020, I got a call because she was in trouble. She had bought her own house. Her boyfriend was still in the tiny house with his parents.

She bought the house in Nov. 2019. So then she and her daughter are alone in the house and then Covid hit. She needed help because daycare was closed because of Christmas because the doctor told her she couldn’t lift her.

She had had breast surgery. She didn’t need it, but she had had it before and I guess she didn’t like they want they turned out, so she had it again. She wanted to be perfect. She thought if she was perfect then her boyfriend couldn’t resist her and would move out of the tiny house and wouldn’t leave her.

She started getting abusive. She could be so super sensitive but she could scream at you. I went home the day after Christmas. And she sent text messages that her boyfriend was seeing somebody she didn’t know about it until after he was seeing her for two months. She was a 21- or 22-year-old.

The girlfriend was posting things of herself with her daughter and Rachel’s daughter, Mackenzie, with messages like “We are family” She became obsessed.


My son called and asked if I had heard from Rachel

She had taken her daughter to boyfriend’s mom saying she had to take the dog to vet, and went home and swallowed four bottles of sleeping pills.

She had sent a text to boyfriend saying “I’m so sorry. Please help Kenzie be the best that she can be. ” The boyfriend was skiing with his girlfriend in Utah, which Rachel had wanted to do with him.

Rachel’s pain was so great when she was at the end of a relationship. It was a physical pain that was unbearable. But her pain couldn’t have been as great as my pain at losing her. It breaks my heart. She loved her daughter so much.

Rachel wrote a note saying how awful I am. She would tell he cousins one thing, tell her brother something else. And I can remember my son calling me complaining and saying, “But Mom, she’s crazy.”

He’s been having a really rough time because she was his little sister and he feels like he should have done more to protect her.

After Rachel died, I went down there to New Jersey and the baby daddy and his parents had been taking things out of my daughter’s house and he didn’t live there. That was her house.

There were a whole lot of family members in the house. They had been taking things. None of her jewelry except the earring I had given her that she wore in her wedding were left. Everything else was gone, her grandmothers’ pearls, a Pandora bracelet.


We had a service, and released butterflies. My  husband and stepson sang “My Girl,” which I used to sing to her when she was little

She loved animals and she loved helping people And I really wish she was still here because she has this beautiful little girl who doesn’t have her mom and I worry about her daughter because she’s so much like Rachel.

She looks a lot like Rachel did at that age. It’s going to be bitter sweet watching her grow up.

I gave her friends in Utah some of her ashes and spread them on the slope. I did that for me but I also needed to do it to honor Rachel.

I found out after she left she was probably bulimic. She had scar tissue in her through that made the me think that was scar tissue from the vomiting. She was really thin.

I let it go so I could have relationship with Mackenzie. But I only see her a couple times a year.

My husband and I moved to Maine this year.

I went through the stuff in my daughter’s room, but I couldn’t get through my stuff – middle school memories and notes Rachel had written to me. I don’t believe there’s anything I could have done differently that would have made a difference. I just wish she could have known how good she was, how beautiful and smart she was. She was a good mom. I was really proud of her to buy her own house.

She had graduated with a 4.0,  was accepted to a PhD program. She was really smart.

She was an amazing athlete. She played everything. Basketball, ice hockey, La Cross, soccer, indoor soccer, softball. She did really well with the sports, and she liked it.

She was in such a big hurry to become an adult. And I would say to her, why are you in such a big hurry to be an old lady? Why can’t you enjoy some of this?

She was only 30 when she died, but she lived a really full life.

When I as at Rachel’s house, I thought it was a dream but  I was already awake, I was sitting up and Rachel was there, she was sitting on my lap but she was facing outward and I put my arms around her and I could feel the heat from her body and I said, “I love you much.”  And She said, “I know, I love you too.”

I talk to her more now than I did when she was alive because she shut me out. All I ever wanted for her was for her to be happy. I hope my granddaughter’s father will allow her to have a relationship with me so I can tell her about her mom when she gets older.

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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