Friday, January 4, 2013

Suicide Letter

3am has me again. 

I posted a status on facebook yesterday that I had heard a fellow anencephalic baby's mother took her own life.  I did not know her, but it threw me for a loop.  Because I know her pain.

I spent a lot of time in the car yesterday with Des (her 10th bday and we were looking for new things for her bedroom since she is officially 'too big for a castle') and the songs about God and how faithful He is and how He can pull us through anything had me in tears. 

Why couldn't she see Him?  Or why didn't He reveal himself more?

So then last night before bed, I looked at the comments I had received and most of them were short and sad - but I also saw a few rolling around on my page and on other pages that said things that I need to address.  Because quite clearly, people don't understand.

I'm not claiming that it should make sense.  Especially not to someone who has never lost a child - and I don't care what else kind of loss you've had... not the time to tell me you understand loss.  I can GUARANTEE you that I UNDERSTAND loss and did BEFORE Rachel.  It is just not the same and I say this with absolutely no intention of sounding harsh or uncaring.  I would not want to bury any of my family, especially not my husband, but your children are not, EVER, supposed to go before you.

On top of this - giving birth to a severely deformed baby, you just carried in your womb, is traumatic.  Never in my life did I know such a thing could happen and holding my girl with such a large piece of her body missing and her brain stem revealed was - there's no other word - traumatic.  The effects of that do not ever disappear, no matter how much I love her, how beautiful her life was, how undying my devotion. 

I went to this girls blog and her facebook page and I was devastated by how much I relate to her... to how much like me she sounded.... and the stark cold fact that it could have been me.   And like anything else, when something hits close to home (meaning you could picture it happening to you and have empathy over how that might feel)  it hurts.  Read this post.  I cried when I read about how she was on medication and felt like a crazy person... and how her doctor wanted her to go on anti depressants and she was willing to try.  And the last any of the people I know who knew her had heard... she was going to get help.  And now she is dead.

So here it is people....  DON'T TELL PEOPLE TO 'Get Help'!  It doesn't freaking exist.  The only true help comes from the Lord.  And honestly as I sat here these past 24 hours and thought about this, I hate that He didn't help her...  I hate that she couldn't see past her pain.  I hate that her 6 year old son and great husband have to live without her. 

Let me explode some myths for you.... she was not a negative person.  I've looked at her blog and her facebook page and she had hard days, but they were always surrounded by hope and looking to God.  She didn't bottle up her feeling either, she was open about her struggles, with her friends, her doctors and the world.  She had support.  Her husband and her son and her family... and THOUSANDS of people on line who were following her story.  Her last post on her blog was about how she was going to start the new year off with hope and wasn't going to let this get the best of her. 

And in the wake of this tragedy, people say things like "Why couldn't she see that she had a child here who needed her?"  "Why didn't she get the help she needed"  and my favorite one... "if you ever get to that point, get help!"

UM, if I EVER?  Please, people, I have been there over and over and over.  And it's not because I don't look to God.  It's not because I don't have hope.  It's not because I don't see the many blessings in my children here and it's not because I don't have support.  It's not because I lost perspective and it's not because I bottle up my feelings or don't get out enough.

It's because my daughter is dead.  And when you child dies - unlike any other loss - and something you COULD NEVER come CLOSE to understanding if you have not lost a CHILD (for me this was not the case with my miscarriage, but I know some struggle with that too) - even if you have empathy.... you want to die with them - or better yet, instead of them.  It's not about not liking life.  It's not about being unfaithful.  It's not about perspective.  And when you say those things to someone hurting so bad, YOU ADD TO IT.  You make them want to die MORE.  Telling someone to get help and have a nice day is bullshit.  There IS NO help!

I tried to get 'help' - you want to know what happened?  I had my first counselor who didn't understand grief say (a week after I put my baby in the ground and was still healing from my c-section) "You will always be someone who lost a child, but eventually you will have to get beyond it and learn how to live again"... I left there in tears and fought the urge to open the van door and jump the whole way home.  I didn't WANT to learn how to live like this! 

Then I switched to a counselor who understood grief.. meaning she was TRAINED BY A BOOK in it... and she called another girl at my church (who I was hurt by and talked about there) that she apparently knew and felt guilty for agreeing with me about and TOLD HER what I had said that she had done that hurt me.  It was awesome.  I totally should have turned that witch in.  I only didn't for fear of what else of my private life she was going to blab around to everyone if I upset her.  Oh, yeah, that was helpful.  Then I stopped talking to everyone for a couple of months because NOTHING felt safe.  So then I went to my doctor... and my next doctor... and my kids doctor... and they all said "you need help, let me give you some pills".  And when I said I didn't want pills, they all said that was the only solution.

Well, I have experience with THAT too.  Any time I have been on anti depressants in my life I have wanted to sleep more, be around ppl less and have had more suicidal thoughts than any other time.  So that 'solution' would have landed me right next to Rachel in the ground. 

After Rachel, I left he hospital with 2 different pain killers, Adivan and the highest dose of Ambien they could give me.  After about 6 weeks - and discovering an email I had sent someone I barely knew that said this:

" I would kill myself but my sister in law would be too happy about that"

Yes, that's right, my sister in law wanting me to fall off the face of the planet because she thought she was grieving just as hard as me and I needed to support her too - and was mad that I didn't want to get together for Christmas right after my baby died - actually saved my life. 

But I didn't remember writing it.  Because PILLS are BAD.  They are not the solution.  I looked the next day at the pamphlet and I knew I needed to get off the stuff.  Prescription or not.  I was scared to death to try to live without them (especially to try to sleep without them)  because I had been convinced by everyone around me that it was my only solution to this unbearable pain.  These doctors throw pills at you and don't even follow up to see if you're still alive.  Maybe she DID get 'help'!  Maybe she did see the blessings in her life and wanted to stay here for them too!  Maybe she went to counseling and got meds.  PEOPLE, hear me when I say NONE of that helps!  It doesn't take away the pain.  It just clouds your mind more and makes reality that much further away.  But you cannot escape reality.  I'm not claiming medication can never help anyone, so please don't feel the need to email me with how you disagree.  If you are on meds, and they help you, great for you.  I'm not debating that.  What I am saying is STOP ACTING LIKE THEY ARE THE CURE ALL and if us moms would just get us some, we might not want to die.  We will want to die anyway! 

This is not my cry for help and I'm not saying I am going to kill myself.   Along this journey, I have had only a couple times where I have shared those thoughts on my blog.  I share a ton of very deep and personal feelings.  But anyone knows if you say those words, you are in trouble... you will have judgement from every side, be completely misunderstood, be given all sorts of 'get help, get meds, get counseling' and whatever else someone can say that insinuates that SOMEONE ELSE can help you, not them.  And the couple of times I have, I got just that.  People everywhere passing the buck and sending emails telling me how they want me to look at life differently... but no real help.  No real love.  No real friendship.

One girl came here, sat down and told me that because "she had done so much for me"  (she was helping me with Rachel's first race - please ppl, don't throw what you've done for someone's dead baby in their faces and think they will react nicely) "She expected me to get some help to pay her back".  OK, so on the surface, I can see... a concerned friend who is afraid I'm going to kill myself and she will have that guilt on her shoulders if she didn't say anything.  But when I responded and said that I was not going to get 'help', that I had tried that, and that I was fine and that she really didn't know me (we had just met that very MONTH) and that my husband would tell me if I needed help, she threw another thing in my face... "You said your husband doesn't listen to you"

UM, whose husbands are good listeners?  And is that going to make me feel better?  My daughter is dead and my husband is distant.  Thanks for the reminder.  Then we ended up in an email fight where she told me that "You only care about yourself and Rachel, you've made that clear"  and THEN went to our mutual friends and had them calling me all concerned that I wasn't doing what I needed to do to see how good I had it here on earth.  I spent the next couple of weeks defending my faith and trying to prove to people I wasn't unstable so nobody would try to take my kids away -  And now we are no longer friends because when I blogged very vaguely about that, SHE CONTACTED A FREAKING LAWYER AND HAD THEM WRITE ME A SCARE LETTER!! 

Who wants to HELP me??  She sent me that letter on the one year anniversary of Rachel's diagnosis.  She didn't want to help me.  She had me nowhere on her mind.  It was all about HER feeling like she had covered herself if I slit my wrists.

Then last summer, I got an email from another distant friend.  One who I had been friends with, but disappeared right after Rachel died just like everyone else.  Her 'concern' was that I was missing out on my life because I was too focused on Rachel and that I needed to be told that this isn't the end for Rachel.. that it's not the end for us and that I needed to be more positive.

Whatever.... bury your child and tell me what you think.  I think I've been about as positive as one woman can be - but nobody hears that stuff.  People only hear the hard stuff and make judgements accordingly.  Actually, at that time, she wrote that after reading a post that I was angry in and that post had over 500 hits in 24 hours.  The ones around it that were upbeat and had a nice sounding title, had like 24 or 90 hits.  People don't want to take the time to follow my ENTIRE journey and then judge me for having bad days. 

But here is the real problem.... WHY IN THE WORLD IS ANYONE JUDGING ANYONE FOR HAVING A HARD TIME??  Don't claim you just want to help if you are saying things like "you need to go get help"  If you want to help, HELP. 

Let me clear this up for you....  If someone says to me that my perspective is all wrong, that I need medication and a counselor... this is what I hear "You daughter's life is ugly and I have no time or way to help you, you are beyond what regular friends can do, so contact a professional". 

The moment my daughter's life becomes ugly - when I have done everything in my power to make it beautiful, I want to die.  My purpose has been smashed to pieces and I have failed her. 

If you really want to HELP your grieving friends... if you REALLY want to encourage and uplift them... here is what you do.  It's simple...

You hug them.
You send them cards and remember anniversaries.
You SHOW up.
You don't avoid them.
Tell them they are a GREAT mom to their dead children AND living children!
You make them a meal, help clean their house, take the kids so they can cry if they need to.
You include them on the Christmas card... it's not that hard and we've said it over and over and over... don't forget our baby!  Don't make us feel like we're the only one remembering because it's uncomfortable for you. Or like we are freaks for including a dead baby in our lives. Step out of your comfort zone and BE THERE.  In REAL and practical ways that say "I know this sucks and I'm not leaving you alone in it.  I CAN HELP YOU!"  Because you can.  YOU can help more than any bottle of pills, text booked counselor, or doctor.  And you don't need to have lost a baby to help.  Some of my best comforters are NOT baby loss mothers!  Baby loss mothers often need their OWN help.  They can't be relied on to support everyone else!  You need to stop trying to shoo the problem to someone else and see that YOU ARE CALLED TO IT.
And for heaven's sake, PLEASE don't try to tell the mother that just buried or burned her baby that YOU are struggling just as much with the loss.  Nothing will ruin your relationship faster.  You can sympathize, empathize, even have your own grief around it - and many do, especially grandparents and aunts & uncles... but if you think for a second that you feel the SAME, you are completely useless in helping that mom at all.  You cannot take that away from them.  It is their loss, not YOURS.  Their baby, not YOURS.  You have your own loss and it's different.  Do not make the baby's death about YOU. 
Talk to them in YOUR own words.  Do NOT throw bible verses about happy and hope and being disciplined with your thoughts at them.  Yes, the bible is the ultimate Source of comfort, but moms need to find that on their own.  Giving a verse reference is better, if you must because they can look it up or not and it helps get them into the Word, but don't use the bible as a way to distance yourself from the uncomfortable nature of not knowing what to say.  It's okay to say LESS and to sit quietly.  It's okay to say "I'm so sorry" or "I wish I had words, but I don't".   Most attempts at comforting me with verses have come across in a condescending way.  Like they have the answer and I apparently just need to read more. 
And on that note, I should add that just because YOU DON'T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT does not mean it's okay.  Your intentions ARE NOT what matters, your effects are.  If you hurt them, you hurt them and PLEASE if you hurt them, JUST SAY YOU ARE SORRY.  It's not that hard and goes a long way in the healing of the hurt.  Don't make excuses, justifications or try to say they are just too sensitive.  Remember that while YOU are trying your best... THEY ARE TOO.  Some of my biggest frustrations have come from people acting like I know how to do this and they don't.  I'VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE.  I don't know what to do either!  I don't know what to say or how to react.  You are not the only one completely uncomfortable with a baby dying here!  Can you think about ME for a second?  And why is that somehow not an acceptable thing to request?  I can't tell you how many times I've been accused of being self focused.  What?!  I did not curl up on my couch and cry over my dead baby.  I have done everything I can to HELP others through this and when I look like I need help, I'm told to call someone else.....I'm not the self focused one.

I also want to say that just because we know that only God truly has control over life and death, that does not mean we can wash our hands of it.  We are His hands and feet.  We are to comfort with the comfort we recieve.  We are to be there.  And I know we can't save everyone.  I know we ultimately don't have any control over what people do.  I know if someone kills themselves, it's not our fault.  But I don't want to use that as an excuse or an 'out' to just hope for the best and send them on their way while we go about our own lives.  The darkness of depression DOES NOT need to make sense to you in order for you to be a friend to someone battling it.

So there, maybe I can go back to sleep now, but I doubt it.  I just couldn't get this poor girl off my mind.  And I know there are others like her.  And I know I'm not beyond it just because it's been 2 years.  I know that 'But for the grace of God, go I' and while I'm thankful for His grace keeping me alive so that nobody can say that I gave up on my living children... I don't understand why He didn't do it for her - and I don't believe for a second that she gave up on her living child.  She was too serious a mama to give up on him. 

Don't wait for the person next to you to say they are feeling hopeless to reach out.  Most people who actually kill themselves seem perfectly fine right before they do.  You will not be able to send an email on a hard day and fix it.  You may clear your conscience if they end up dead, but don't fool yourself.  There is much more to a relationship then pointing out when someone has the wrong focus.  You will help nobody with that attitude.  Be there.  Be a friend.  Don't judge.  Don't assume.  Don't think that only anniversaries are hard or that after so much time, the pain dwindles.  It might, but that doesn't mean a low day can't come out of nowhere.  And if it does, will that person truly know they aren't alone?  Will they have a phone number to dial and know that they won't regret it?  And don't wait till tomorrow.  Sometimes tomorrow never comes.


  1. I'm so sorry for everything a baby loss mama has to go through :-( This post brings me to tears.
    Thank you for reminding me to act NOW. To leave my comfort zone now and to lay down my fears of saying something wrong now. I'm so glad for your honesty, your blog helps me to be a better friend, mother, christian... Your great, Stacey I'm sure Rachel and her siblings know that!
    Hugs and love across the ocean, anja

  2. Thank you for being real about this. People (like me) who have never struggled with depression can't possibly understand what it's like to be in your shoes, or in the shoes of the woman who took her life. We need to be reminded that just because we don't struggle with it doesn't mean that we've done something right. Your feelings (and her feelings) are valid and real. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what it's like inside your mind, and reminding me how hope and despair can exist so close together.


We so appreciate your words of encouragement!
Thank you! ♥ The Aubes