Teen Suicide: The Sharp Knife of a Short Life
As I sat in the church sanctuary this evening, my arm around my sobbing 12 year old daughter, my other hand on my 15 year old son’s knee, and watching my 15 and 17 year old bonus daughters crying just out of reach, everything felt surreal. This was not supposed to be happening. Babies are not supposed to be mourning another baby.
All I could think is how this isn’t right. These children I’ve watched grow up over the past seven years are not supposed to be crying. My children aren’t supposed to be hurting. They aren’t supposed to experience what it feels like to lose a friend their age, and definitely not by her own hand. They aren’t supposed to know how fragile life can be. Or the true depths of darkness our own minds can take us to. These are not lessons they should be learning right now.
But unfortunately…they are. And watching them hurt is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a parent. I can’t fix this. I can’t bring their friend back. We try our best as parents to protect them from the bad in the world, from the tragedies and sadness…but in the end we can’t, and it’s heartbreaking.
What I did see tonight, through the pain and the tears, was kindness. Mr. Rogers’s famous quote comes to mind about finding the helpers, the good people in bad times. I saw kids comforting kids, and being there for each other. And I saw a grieving father who was somehow more concerned about all of the mournful kids there tonight than himself.
The coming days will be difficult, as this loss really starts to sink in. All of the kids being together tonight started to make it feel real to them, and I expect that feeling to get worse. I hope as we all navigate these new waters we can lean on each other and help our children through this difficult time. There are a lot of difficult discussions to be had.