April 9, 2015

What Did You Just Say About My Kids?

"You are going to fuck those kids up if you tell them it is suicide."

"I will fuck them up if I don't. Would you rather have them hear it on the playground or school bus? It was suicide! I will not lie."

From that moment I knew I had to protect them. Protect them from words, fear, anxiety and guilt of others. Protect them from ignorance.

From that moment I knew I had to be honest and never lie to them. 

From that moment I knew not telling them the truth would dishonor my husband and his private fight with mental illness....their father who loved them more than anything. The man they loved. The man who loved me more than anything. The man I loved.

That moment hours after my husband died will forever be burned in my head and heart. I don't remember much from the first few weeks after Pat died but I do remember so clearly how the air was sucked from my lungs and I knew I would have to fight for these kids and for Pat's memory. The man who was kind, gentle, funny as hell, caring and loving. The man with the amazing laugh. The man who had helped 3 friends get help for anxiety and depression. Fight or flight.

My gut told me to fight.
My gut from that moment has never been wrong.

I am not angry at the person who said it. I now know that comment was made out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of death. Fear of suicide. Fear of stigmas. Fear of mental illness. Fear of looking in deep and seeing ourselves and our own struggles.  

Mental illness is a disease. Why would I hide the disease that killed their father? We don't hide cancer or car accidents. We talk about them. Let's talk about suicide and mental illness. It's not dirty or shameful or selfish. It is real.

Mental illness is a disease. Period. If we talk about it, people won't be afraid to get treatment. If we educate ourselves about it, we can help others we see who may be struggling. If we are empathetic to those who suffer from it, they won't feel so alone and isolated. If we share our stories, we can help others heal. 

Honesty has helped us heal. Be honest about suicide, mental illness, death and grief. It will help you heal too.