Death of a fellow preschool mom

**Warning – Please do not read if talk of suicide is a trigger for you.**

I’ve tried multiple times to start this post, but I keep on stuttering and never getting anywhere.  So instead I’m going to jump right in.

One of the preschool moms I know committed suicide two weeks ago.  Her daughter is in class with my son J.  Bridget was 31 years old, with a husband and two girls ages 5 and 3.  She was in excellent physical health – she worked part-time as a physical trainer at the Y and had just finished a half marathon.

Like me, she was a preschool mom – always at school for dropoff and pickup, running to Target for errands while the kids were in school, cheering from the sidelines as the kids played soccer.

Unlike me, she looked HAPPY.  Honestly, truly, genuinely happy.  Bridget had one of those smiles that was magnetic – she drew everyone in.  She certainly drew me in even though I didn’t know her well.  I’d see her in the preschool, or run into her at the Y, and she was always so friendly.  In fact I saw her at Target just a couple of days before she died.  We were both there doing a last bit of school shopping.  Her daughter and J eyed each other shyly while Bridget and I talked for a few minutes.  After I walked away, I thought of how good I felt every time I ran into her.

Bridget was one of those people I looked at and thought, “I should be more like her.”  I know I don’t walk around radiating joy like Bridget did.

If you were to put Bridget and me in a lineup, and you asked which one of us was most likely to commit suicide, you would pick me.  You would never pick Bridget with her radiant smile.

But Bridget chose to end her life.

When I heard what happened, I was completely rocked.  For one thing, I’ve never known anyone directly who committed suicide.  For another thing, I simply can’t imagine someone with so much joy struggling with so much pain at the same time.  And she just didn’t seem like “the type” who would be depressed.  A long time ago I wrote a post about extroverts and depression – I think in my mind, it’s mostly the quiet introvert types who struggle with depression.  Obviously that’s not the case.

I went to Bridget’s funeral and cannot express the pain and waves of emotion I felt.  At times I felt like I was being ridiculous – after all, she wasn’t a close friend at all.  More of a casual acquaintance.  But I felt her death, and the reality of her suicide, so acutely.  Maybe it was because I had looked up to her as the example of what I thought I should be – happy, perky, full of smiles.  Maybe it was because she came from my world as a preschool mom – I know roughly what her world looked like as far as being the mother of young kids.

And maybe it was because I could conjure up pretty readily what her horrible pain and suffering must have been like in the last weeks and hours of her life.

I too have thought about suicide.  Not recently, thankfully, but I’ve had my share of critical “episodes” (as the mental health professionals call them).  I’ve never taken any steps to commit suicide, but at my worst times I’ve thought roughly about what I would do, how it would go, and so on.  At those times when I’ve been so deep in the hole, the pain has been excruciating, and it has felt like it would never let up – that killing myself would be the only way to make the pain stop.  Such disordered thinking could also convince me that suicide would relieve my loved ones of the pain and burden of having me in their lives.

I cannot possibly express how grateful I am that I’m no longer in such a horrible place.  But I can imagine how Bridget got to that place.  My heart breaks for her, her husband, and her two beautiful girls.

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15 thoughts on “Death of a fellow preschool mom

  1. You never know what pain someone is carrying behind their brave masks. It is heartbreaking to think of the lives of the people she left behind.

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  2. this is so sad. Her pain must have just been too overwhelming to bear. It really brings it home what suicide leaves behind, her kids are now going to grow up without their mom. thanks for posting this. X

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    • Thank you for reading. I can’t begin to wrap my mind around how her daughters will process all of this when they’re older. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I feel like they are forever broken by this – unless (and hopefully) they can get the therapy and help they need.

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  3. I am so sorry for you, and for Bridget and her family. Do not feel bad in your grief because as you rightly say, you are in roughly the same boat as she was, even if it didn’t appear that way on the outside, and because of your own mental health issues.

    Did she seem even happier towards the end? A teacher of mine once told me that people who are about to commit suicide display an improved look because they have a plan and are relieved.

    This story just goes to prove the outside tells us nothing about what is really happening, so caution should be taken before wishing we were like someone, etc.

    My condolences.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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    • Thank you. It has definitely slammed home the idea that people can be struggling with all sorts of things – and we have no idea. And also that you can wish you were more like someone in a certain way, but you can’t pick and choose. People are the whole package – the things that you may envy or wish for, and then a whole host of other things including their pain.

      I mostly wish that she didn’t have to feel so alone.

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  4. I’m so sorry to read this. I’ve been there, too. I don’t think anyone can explain how it feels to be in that place. I do think, however, that we are going to find that depression is not in our heads, but in our bodies. I believe, more and more, that it is a physical illness, one that anyone can have–even people who appear well.

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    • I think you’re right that you simply can’t explain what it feels like. It will be very interesting to see how the latest research progresses in terms of demonstrating a real biological component to depression. I’ve also felt like I have the perfect trifecta for depression – a combination of biochemistry, personality, and life experiences (upbringing especially). But maybe biochemistry drives more of it than I think.

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  5. I feel sad for Bridget, I can’t imagine how bad she must have been feeling that that seemed the best solution. And I feel sad for her family who have lost so much and have such a long hard road ahead of them. But this doesn’t lessen the sadness I feel at your pain, it’s clearly been a big shock to you and one that has stirred up some painful memories and probably given you some fear for your own future. And if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling guilty as well and your inner voice is telling you that you’re being selfish being upset for yourself at such a time and I’m guessing it doesn’t help that you don’t feel able to discuss how personal this feels to you with the other preschool mums.
    If that is the case, then please remember, that there is sadness and grief aren’t limited, no quotas are handed out. Just as your love for your children isn’t limited, and when your second child is born, you don’t love the first any less to make spare love for the second. Also, there is no right time to feel sadness and grief, they are triggered by what they’re triggered by.

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    • Thanks for your thoughts. I have felt guilty and maybe like I’m being too dramatic about it. I saw some preschool moms at the funeral and then again later in the day – they seemed to be functioning just fine and yet I was almost catatonic. But I think I’ve underestimated how much of a trigger all of this has been for me – triggering memories of when I’ve been in such an awful space, as well as fears of having the awful times return. Plus, because of her personality, there’s also something that says, “Geez – if she couldn’t beat it, with all of the magnetism and joy and happiness that she seemed to have – how will I manage?” But the truth is that I *am* managing. Not always well, but I’m getting through one day at a time and trying to use all of the tools I have at my disposal. So that’s something.

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      • I am glad to hear that you *are* managing, even at a hard time like this. I think maybe that letting yourself “not manage well” rather than possibly pretending it’s ok and keeping everything going on the outside until you break is maybe a strength, rather than the weakness your Inner Critic thinks it is. If that makes any sense.

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  6. My opinion – you were and are doing a lot better than that mom you envied for her ‘joie de vivre’. Your outsides and insides are matching more – that is healthy. Putting up a completely false front – unhealthy. And not something to be wished for. My two cents.

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    • Joie de vivre – That’s the perfect term to express what Bridget seemed to have. She seemed so genuine and it makes me wonder if she really was hiding all of that awfulness – or if she could swing so wildly between times of joy and times of despair. Of course I’ll never know. And I’m not sure which would be worse anyway.

      Thanks for sharing your idea about insides matching outsides. Mine do match more, which makes me feel sad about how I appear in the world – but maybe in the end that’s more healthy as you say.

      Always happy to hear your two cents. 🙂

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