My response was one of shock. It felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I started to panic as I rushed to wake up my husband who was asleep on the couch next to me. “She did it, she really did it!”
I was in disbelief because I couldn’t imagine a person I love, one I spent countless hours, even years, trying to help actually ending her life. Even today it’s hard for me to believe that she’s gone. Yet I think a part of me understood since I saw up close the relentless suffering she endured due to her childhood trauma and complicated mental illness. For her, it was finally over.
Before the call ended I was told that she planned her death ahead of time, a detail that still haunts me today.
There are moments now when all I can think about are her thoughts as she made these plans. Was she scared? Was she tormented over her decision or did she feel a sense of peace and relief knowing she had a plan in place? Did she feel anything at all?
What was she thinking as she looked at me, as she looked at her husband and kids, days leading up to her suicide? Did she want to tell us about her plans? Did she leave hints? Was she hoping we would stop her?
That night when I finally went to bed, I was unable to sleep. I cried mostly and I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing her face. It wasn’t the happy face that so many people remembered, the beautiful smile and bright eyes, but it was the final look she gave me when I saw her last. She looked hurt and defeated.
The ironic thing about suicide is that it doesn’t end the pain. It multiplies it and spreads it to those who are left behind. Like a bomb that explodes in a crowd, there are now wounded people everywhere, myself included.
My best friend was a mother, a wife, a sister and a friend to many.
She was one of us. A mother of a child with mental illness and an advocate for mental health. She was a follower on this very blog.
Through our years together, we talked endless hours about how to help our kids. How to get around the school system, how to get that IEP and pick the best therapist. We passed phone numbers of our favorite doctors the way other moms shared babysitters.
During this time, I also supported her through her own illness with calls, texts and hours of conversations. When she was feeling well, we had fun shopping, traveling or going out for frozen yogurt. We always laughed at our inside joke that I was teaching her to be more “girly” after taking her to see a chick flick movie for the first time. Being that we both loved working out, we exercised side-by-side throughout the week, using our time together as a mini support group. We were two moms, sharing our lives as we encouraged one another along the way.
Considering our circumstances, it shouldn’t be a surprise that suicide was a conversation topic more than once. We both shared our fear of it and our desire to protect our children from this very fate. Just months before her death, she volunteered and participated in a suicide prevention fundraiser in our community. She was truly dedicated to this cause.
That’s why her suicide is so hard for me to accept. I knew her better than most, I knew how much she cherished life and how much she wanted to overcome her own mental illness. I knew first-hand that suicide was never an option. Until her final act changed that.
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I’ve been at a loss as to whether or not to share this recent tragedy with you. But after much consideration, I’ve decided to open up with hopes that in some way, her story can help others. From our one-on-one conversations, I know she wanted to share with you her own personal story on this blog. I just never imagined it would happen in this way. In my next post I will reflect on what led up to her suicide and the possible warning signs we missed.
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.