Moms aren’t supposed to kill themselves. It seems obvious when stated so bluntly and on the heels of a friend’s recent suicide. Thoughts have been circling in my mind all week. What happened? How could this have happened? Why? Why? Why? Unfortunately, in this instance I will probably never know the answers. How could a bright, vibrant, beautiful woman take her own life? She is described by all as a devoted and loving mother to her three children – how does this compute with the women who left them motherless by her own hand?
Today I went to her memorial. I felt compelled to show up. To be there to celebrate her life to say “Hey – this was an amazing women – please remember.” The other thing I was looking for were answers. As a mental health professional I know the many reasons and ways that people kill themselves. I know the clinical reasons, the psychology and the resounding echos of grief and loss that remain for years with the family members and loved ones left behind. As a friend and a mother, I am myself at a loss to explain it in this instance.
There has been no information from the family. I still do not know the how or even a hint of the why. It was not mentioned and it was not talked about at all. I am struggling with this. I am struggling with the fact that this reeks of continued shame and blame. Shame and blame: two things as humans that we pile on ourselves and especially as moms. What could have been causing so much pain that my friend decided her life was not worth living? Whatever it was I know that shame and blame had to be a part of it – something that she could not share with others &/or felt like she would be judged too harshly on. I am feeling compelled to talk and write about this. Was it mental illness? Was it an addiction? I don’t know. What I do know is that we continue to live in a society that has trouble talking about and addressing these issues due to shame and stigma.
It’s time to talk about it, people. It’s time to address the fact that we all struggle sometimes. It’s time to address the fact that we all make mistakes – we are human. It’s time to be our authentic selves and trust that our friends and loved ones can handle it.
She could have been me – that’s another thought that keeps circling in my head. Wendy was a girl scout leader, always the first one to volunteer, smiling, laughing, a teacher, and someone who appeared to love life. I’m not sure what caused her to end her life so soon. For me, I don’t stand in judgment of the end. I believe in a forgiving God and have no doubt that she will be welcomed home (especially since there is a special place in Heaven for Girl Scouts Leaders). I do question the society that we live in. The one that asks moms to “kill themselves” in other ways daily by expecting us to be the perfect wives, mothers, friends, lovers, volunteers, worker, housekeepers, etc all with a smile on our face and our tongues in check.
I know myself when I am asked “How are you?” I usually answer with a smile and “Awesome!” even if I might not be feeling that way. After this last week I have made an updated commitment to my authentic self. I will continue to focus on my gratitude and positive attitude AND I will be authentic with myself and you. If I’m in a vulnerable place you may hear about it. My friends this week sure have as I’ve teared up and shared my sense of loss and confusion. I’m going to trust you with my feelings and I’m going to know that it is safe to love you.
That’s what we’re all looking for – connection, love, that sense of peace. And please let me reciprocate. Know that I am here for you. I am willing to listen and I am willing hear you without judgment or shame or blame. The song, “Lean on Me” keeps coming to mind, “Lean on Me, when you’re not strong, I’ll help you carry on.” Know that we are connected and you are loved.