I am in my own state of shock. My friend, Marsha, called this morning to tell me that her daughter, Lauren, had committed suicide. She was 34 years old, the same age as my oldest daughter, Alicia. I’ve known Marsha since we attended Kino Junior High together. Some 15 years later Marsha, our good friend, Di, and I delivered baby girls in the same year.
Lauren was always well-behaved as a young girl. I never had a problem with her when she came to our house for birthday parties or other events. She was smart and pretty and had a flair for fashion that I always admired. Yet, I never felt like I knew her. There seemed to be so much beneath the surface. There was a quiet pain.
Apparently it did bubble up more when she became older. She became involved in drugs and alcohol and terrible fights with her mother. But nothing prepared me for the call that she would take her own life. I can’t even fathom what Marsha is going through. The loss of a child at any age is probably the worst pain a mother can endure.
When my friend, Jackie and I wrote our first book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we started with the story of a woman whose only son was killed. Jackie and I both had second thoughts about starting the book with such a tragic and heavy topic, but somehow it seemed the right thing to do.
As I think of Marsha’s pain and my own loss for words, I think back to what I wrote. I go into more detail about the death of a child in the first chapter of the book and I encourage folks to read it. Libraries will get it through inner-library loan if you can’t afford to purchase it on your own. And an electronic version of the book is only $5 on smashwords.com.
But the bottom line is there are no perfect words to comfort someone in so much pain. All you can do is be quiet, listen and be there for them. Platitudes such as “he/she is in a better place,” will not only fall on deaf ears, the hollowness of the expression may illicit an angry response.
Being a good friend is the best medicine. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick. This type of pain will always be there, but friends can help. It may not be unusual for the grieving friend to lash out in anger, or even try to push you away. But please remember that may be the very time they need you the most. Just stick with your grieving friend and let them know you care about them. Their pain will never go away completely, but in time it will lessen.
As to Lauren, who I cannot help in a conventional sense, I will say a daily prayer. As a Buddhist I believe my prayers will reach her and I hope they can penetrate her soul so that she can absorb what she couldn’t believe in life – that she is a beautiful human being who will be missed. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.