After losing brother to suicide, woman uses power of plants to educate, heal

Ashley Searing grew up in Joliet, the eldest of three siblings. She was particularly close with her brother Nate, with just 13 months separating the pair. 

As they grew older, they went to the same schools, played the same sports and grew closer after high school. 

Searing says her brother was warm, funny, caring and a friend to all he met. 

On Feb 9, 2020, Nate took his own life. He was 25 years old, 10 days shy of his 26th birthday. 

His sister was the one who found him. 

After losing brother to suicide, woman uses power of plants to educate, heal
Ashley Searing with her brother Nate. (Photo: Submitted)

In the days that followed, life was a blur for the Searing family. Six days later, on Valentine’s Day, neighbors dropping off a large amount of food to the family prompted Searing to go to the grocery store to pick up some plastic containers. As she walked into the shop, she spotted a little aloe plant, with a card that said, “Aloe You Very Much”. She says it felt like a sign from her brother – so she picked it up and bought it.

Growing up, Ashley Searing loved to work with plants and paint plant pots at her grandmother’s initial bequest one day. After taking the little aloe plant home, she found an old pot she’d painted, put it inside and brought both to her friend Kaitlin Soto, as a thank you for helping support the family during such a difficult time. 

Soto still has the little plant to this day. But, after receiving that gift from her friend, Soto later asked Searing if she could do something more with her creativeness.

Ashley Searing was unsure at first but Soto had planted the seed. 

She started researching the benefits of plants and soil on mental and physical health and found the benefits to be many. She drew up a business plan and brought it to Soto, who already runs her own successful business, Flourish Juice Company. 

Soto immediately told her friend that she needed to pursue the venture but just needed a good name. Eventually it came to Ashley, who said she wanted to include Nate in the name of it all – because it felt like this was his story, being told through her. 

And “RejuveNate” was born. 

Searing initially started operating the business out of her family home but in January opened a little shop in Crest Hill. For months, groups have been coming to the store to paint their pots, get creative and learn more about mental health and suicide prevention. 

Searing doesn’t tell visitors what to paint. Instead, she encourages users to get creative on their own, saying that helps alleviate any depression or anxiety one might be feeling. 

So far, it’s been highly successful, a business that has blossomed on behalf of the little brother.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you may call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, 24-hours a day. Text HELLO to 741741

Illinois CARES Line

You may use the 24-hour Crisis and Referral Entry Services (CARES) line to talk to a mental health professional if your child is a risk to themselves or others, having a mental health crisis, or if you would like a referral to services for children, youth, and families.

Call: 1 (800) 345-9049

TTY: 1 (773) 523-4504

The Warm Line

Call: 1 (866) 359-7953

The Warm Line is an opportunity in Illinois for anyone age 12 and up to receive support by phone. Wellness Support Specialists are professionals who have experienced recovery in their own lives. They have been trained in recovery support, mentoring, and advocacy and are ready to listen and support you. The Warm Line is not a crisis hotline, but is a source of support as you recover or help a family member to recover.